Post Academic


“Can a Grad Student Study Too Much?”

Posted in Surviving Grad School by Caroline Roberts on September 15, 2010
Tags: , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionOther than “ass school” (ahem!), somebody went to Post Academic looking for the answer to this question. There is only one answer: Yes, yes, yes! If you’re in a literature program, read Thomas Hardy’s “Return of the Native.” One of the characters, Clym Yeobright, goes blind from studying too damn much. After a few long weeks of studying and grading, I started becoming dramatical and fearing that would be my fate.

Unfortunately, like Clym Yeobright, most grad students have a strong perfectionist streak, coupled with raging ambition. This is not a good mix. You want something so badly you’ll give up sleep and food and money for it, but the perfectionism freezes you up so you can’t break the cycle. At some point, you’re going to have to prioritize and figure out what it is you really want to do, which means you’ll need to let some things slide. And then everything you do in grad school, aside from the occasional moments of service, must guide you toward that goal.

If you aren’t good at setting priorities, grad school may not be for you. I fully admit that I tried to do way too much in an attempt to be perfect. I didn’t wind up being perfect, and I only got sick for my trouble.

The Hamster World provides more structure than the grad school world, unless you’re working for an asshole or a bully. Even then, you get paid more for your relentless pursuit of perfection than if you are a grad student. So, put the book down, and take a walk. You might come back with a clearer head and a new game plan.

I’m sure this dog is going to take a break. So should you. Image by Fantagu from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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5 Responses to '“Can a Grad Student Study Too Much?”'

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  1. Eliza Woolf said,

    Ha! When I think back on grad school I realize that I studied WAY too much, especially considering the fact that all my hard work has, thus far, not lead to tenure-track job anyway. So many times I wanted to go have fun, take a trip, do something crazy, but instead stayed focused on the task at hand. I was, after all, paying a lot of $$ to attend school at an advanced age and could/should have been working 9-5. Still, I could have been drinking and fornicating, or at least walking around outside, away from my laptop and/or grad school related reading material, and developing a hot, lean body. What’s worth more in the long run?: a fit body or a Ph.D. Hmm . . .


  2. I agree wholeheartedly that you need to take breaks and not study all the freaking time. But as I’ve said before, I think that academic culture likes to praise “work-life balance” while still rewarding martyrdom — or maybe it was just my sadistic PhD program, at which we actually got in trouble (in the form of sarcastic comments) for having weekend poker nights. Oy.

    @EW: It’s never to late to drink, fornicate, or go for the fit body. Just think of all that you could achieve if you had that and a PhD. Here’s hoping, anyway 😉

    • Eliza Woolf said,

      Ha! Don’t worry, I didn’t let the grass grow under my feet for long.


  3. Drinkin, fornicatin, and theorizin. Now that would be a terrific mix. One thing I noticed about the transition from aspiring academic to hamster … it is now easier to enjoy the drinkin and the fornicatin with the extra time and reduced guilt!


  4. À PROPOS OF THIS DISCUSSION: ETS’ NEW PERSONAL POTENTIAL INDEX FOR THE NEXT GENERATIONS

    A PERSONAL POTENTIAL INDEX

    http://www.ets.org/ppi

    EXCERPTS:
    You know you are more than just the sum of your grades, test scores and recommendation letters. The ETS® Personal Potential Index (ETS® PPI) gives you the opportunity to provide future employers or graduate and professional schools with more evidence about your capabilities.

    The ETS PPI Web-based Evaluation System
    The ETS PPI web-based evaluation system offers a simple and convenient process to collect and report essential information about your personal attributes to round out your graduate school application. Using the ETS PPI can help demonstrate your likelihood for success.

    What Does the ETS PPI Measure?
    HERE ARE THE CRITERIA BY WHICH YOU WILL BE MEASURED IN THE FUTURE AND ALL ALONG THE WAY:
    The ETS PPI provides reliable information on six personal attributes that professional and graduate schools have indicated are critical for academic success:
    • Knowledge and creativity
    • Communication skills
    • Teamwork
    • Resilience
    • Planning and organization
    • Ethics and integrity

    You select evaluators — typically, faculty members or supervisors — to evaluate you on each of these dimensions by responding to 24 statements and providing an overall rating. Evaluators can also include optional comments.

    THE 24 Personal Attributes and Rating Statements
    The ETS® Personal Potential Index (ETS® PPI) measures six personal attributes that are key to your success in graduate school. Your evaluators will provide an overall evaluation and rate you on the following:

    Knowledge and Creativity
    • Has a broad perspective on the field
    • Is among the brightest persons I know
    • Produces novel ideas
    • Is intensely curious about the field

    Communication Skills
    • Speaks in a clear, organized and logical manner
    • Writes with precision and style
    • Speaks in a way that is interesting
    • Organizes writing well

    Teamwork
    • Supports the efforts of others
    • Behaves in an open and friendly manner
    • Works well in group settings
    • Gives criticism/feedback to others in a helpful way

    Resilience
    • Accepts feedback without getting defensive
    • Works well under stress
    • Can overcome challenges and setbacks
    • Works extremely hard

    Planning and Organization
    • Sets realistic goals
    • Organizes work and time effectively
    • Meets deadlines
    • Makes plans and sticks to them

    Ethics and Integrity
    • Is among the most honest people I know
    • Maintains high ethical standards
    • Is worthy of trust from others
    • Demonstrates sincerity

    A REPORT ON NON-COGNITIVE REVIEWS
    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/09/13/ppi

    ****************************
    FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH, MY OWN COMMENT: I THINK WE ARE QUICKLY LOSING OUR OWN INDIVIDUALITY AND CREATIVITY AS A NATION AS WE EMBRACE WHAT WE IMAGINE TO BE RIGOR AND ORDER AND STRUCTURE.


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