Sex and guns! » « Carnivalia, and an open thread Ever heard the phrase, “lean reinforcement schedule”? Thinking of graduate school? Here’s some good advice about mentorship. Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet Sex and guns! » « Carnivalia, and an open thread
The Disgruntled Chemist says
Thinking of graduate school?
Run! Run away and don’t look back!
Just kidding. That post has some good advice for prospective grad students and those (like me) who sometimes feel like grad school will never end.
Alon Levy says
Thanks for the find, PZ. I’ll make sure to remember it when I start grad school in a few months…
As a part of an initiative to improve doctoral training, a group of us actually wrote a mentor guidebook to facilitate communication between the student and advisor, as poor communication is often to blame for poor mentor-student relationships. Unfortunately, there was a lot of backlash from advisors–they didn’t see the need to be “told” how to be a good mentor…sigh.
Some programs, however, have successfully put out mentor guidebooks that seem to help with some of the more common issues that arise in graduate school.
I think the key thing is to not rely on any single person for help and guidance. Accumulate peeps as you go along and be very introspective to keep yourself in check.
This brings to mind the old classic, “Lord of the Rings: an allegory of the PhD?”. The comparison of Gandalf to an elusive thesis supervisor was particularly apt:
…Very rapidly, things go wrong. First, Gandalf disappears and has no more interaction with Frodo until everything is over. (Frodo assumes his supervisor is dead: in fact, he’s simply found a more interesting topic and is working on that instead.)
Prof. Myers, you have this uncanny ability to provide me with information exactly when I need or want it! I was just talking to a grad student for advice about research and graduate school not (nought?) but ten minutes before reading your post. Maybe tomorrow you can clarevoyantly post the answers to my physics homework? (In other words, thank you for the link!)
Martin Rundkvist says
Eeew, don’t get me started. Here‘s what I think about having done a humanities PhD.
Beautiful! Though I had to navigate a PhD program without my beloved Mr. Tikistitch (we met when I was post-doc-ing), there is absolutely no way I would have stuck it out without the support of a cast of thousands, including my lovely aunt, who was willing to pick me from the train station in Sand Point Idaho at 2 am in the dead of winter so I could share Thanksgiving with family, and a sweet friend who, though only slightly up the poverty scale from myself, mailed me a care package stuffed with candy and coloring books nearly every month. Thanks for the reminder!!
You’ll also find your advisor likely has absolutely no spare time. It is best to go in at the beginnning of the quarter/semester and sit down with them and get on a schedule. Don’t waste their time, and especially the first few times come extremely prepared so that you make a good impression.
I just so happened to go back to grad school as a 40-something ex-professional so the skills needed to get things done and navigate complex relationships were already there.
Best advice: act professionally at all times in the beginning and always be prepared. Always. Always. Don’t be afraid to speak up, but don’t be a chatterbox.
And her P.S. is excellent.
I’m starting grad school this fall and a big factor in my decision is finding an advisor who can be a good mentor. I flew around and met with all my potential advisors and I’m almost certain I’ve found a great choice. Posts like this make me worry a bit, though…