Post Academic

“Can a Grad Student Study Too Much?”

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