Graduate Students, get in here so we can whine together

I was surprised to see a few people confess to being graduate students in the “What’s your job” thread. Granted, I know these things get mentioned elsewhere, but I’ve got a mind like a steel sieve.

So… how far along are you, what degree are you going for, how miserable/poor are you?

Me, I’m a doctoral candidate (PhD), darn close to finishing, absolutely sick to death of it, but thrilled to know it will be over soon. I want to defend in the fall. I am not terribly fond of my advisor & chair and I suspect 85% of my work-avoidance problem is some passive-aggressive way of getting back at her.

I’m studying Higher Education (education at the post-secondary level). I don’t really need the PhD for my job (I started working here part-time as a graduate student, but they hired me full-time and while they’re happy to have me finish, my job will not change once I do).

Doctoral candidate with two years to go, in topology. I’m not really all that miserable, though. I’m definitely poorer than I am miserable, let’s put it that way.

I guess I’m not really whining, sorry. Is it okay if I just commiserate? There, there. (pats Cranky on the back) There, there.

Doctoral candidate, English, one year in. The statistics on time-to-degree at my university are pretty grim. If I stick it out, I could have seven years or more to go.

To be perfectly honest, I think I’m good for another year and then it’s time to look into teaching EFL overseas. It’s been fun while it lasted, but I’ve always thought of it as more of a way to gain teaching experience and figure out what I want to do than the gateway to an Illustrious Academic Career.

I’m applying … I can’t quite say tomorrow yet, but on Monday. In History at UHManoa. I’m pretty much guaranteed to get in.

Although it’s just a side effect or my attempt at becoming a life long student. 9 years down so far. But I actually enjoy it, and am enjoying myself now. Not the case when I was nearing graduation in Physics.

Good luck all!

im applying. mfa, creative writing, sf state, fall 2002. my last best chance to see if ive got what it takes.

im worried as hell, though. anyone else go back to grad school after 10+ years?

Doctoral candidate, anthropology. 3 freaking years to go. Already getting stressed over it all. Already started the process of gathering information for thesis. Driving research assistant to consider suicide (there’s way too much data, but gawd it’s fun)…


Allow me to WHINE.



As an undergraduate, I’ll pop in here for the requisite torture and ridicule. Fire away. :slight_smile:

I’m not a grad student anymore, but I wanted to give my encouragement.

When I started grad school, I heard the case of one guy who spent seven years getting his degree. I thought: “I’d kill myself if it took me that long.”

If I only knew.

I started in one deprtment, switched to another (but closely related field) when I couldn’t find an advisor who’d take me on. Passed the qualifying exams, and started my doctoral work. Took a lot of classes. Taught a lot of classes. Did a lot of work in the lab (Too much, I think. It shouldn’t be ncessary to re-invent the whhel in the name of learning a topic). Had a falling out with my advisor – he thought I shouldn’t get a doctorate. Then I got my experiment to work, fulfilling my requirements. Tough. Advisor didn’t change his mind. They gave me a master’s, after many years in grad school and with a working system.

So I went to another grad school and started over from scratch. Well, not quite – I didn’t have to take classes or th qualifiers again, thank God. Four more years doing a new set of experiments, entirely new dissertation.

I got my Ph.D. In Physics. It took a grand total of ten years.

Never give up. Never surrender.
I have a couple of friends who spent even longer. And never finished their degrees.

Doctoral student in genetics here. Probably one to one and a half years to go. Pretty damn happy! It’s hell sometimes, but still worth it for me.

Speaking as a recent Ph.D. recipient and casualty of the academic job market, if your ambition is to teach anywhere above the second-tier state college level, make sure you’re in a department ranked in the top ten nationally. If you’re not, you ain’t gonna get no teaching job, especially if you’re in a non-technical field, and that is the cold, hard truth. So if you’re in one of those quality, but not spectacular, departments, either abandon your illusion of teaching somewhere other than Bushwhack Technical College, or transfer.

Former grad student here, biochemistry my doctorate degree says. Finished up in 1996 after 5 years of toil, almost in record time for my department. I should have stretched it out longer as I had a great advisor and worked with a fun group of people that made life as a grad student one of the best times in my life.

For those of you still plugging away, I gotta warn you, it doesn’t get any easier after grad school. My post-doctoral stint was a disaster as I made a very poor choice of a lab to work in. In many ways, where and with whom you do your post-doctoral work is more important than where you get your grad degree.

I finally got fed up with waiting around for the “old boys” network to finally recognize me and let me advance beyond the hell that was post-doc-dom. I’m now a high school science teacher. I’m needed, I’m doing something good for the future, I get to blow stuff up in lab demos, and I now have the summer off. Pretty cool gig if you can handle the raging hormones of 13-year-olds.

I remember life as a graduate student.

Actually, that’s not an accurate phrase.

I didn’t really have much of a life at all. Pretty much lived at the university. Got my master’s in 1999, and was glad to leave it.

My dad asked me (right in front of one of my professors!) if I was going to miss the place. Trying to come up with the most diplomatic answer possible, I said, “Eventually.”

I’ve toyed with the idea of going for my doctorate, but I want to keep my ass out of a classroom for a good long while, and earn some money for a time.

::enters bearing a silver tray::
A little cheese with that whine?
::flees while being pelted with reference books::

Two more classes until I get my MA in English. I’m so sick of college, I can actually taste the pain when I register for another semester.

PhD candidate, 3 years or until the research works to go once the prelim stuff is finally over and done with. Molecualr biology, specifically the cell growth and cancer group is my field.

Astronomy here. This fall will be the start of my fifth year. No, I have actually started writing my thesis yet, but thanks for asking. Now would you like to give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice into it?

I’m currently poised in a delicate equilibrium between stark trembling terror of the real world, and being so sick and tired of grad school that I’ll take any chance to get out.

I’m totally bored with what I’m doing, and I shouldn’t be. There are a hundred people who would kill to be where I am. I’m fully funded, I have all the equipment and observing time I could ever want, my advisor is in the top of his field and not too vicious a slave driver . . . but it’s torture forcing myself to do work every day. I imagine some poor kid with stars in his eyes slaving away at a podunk school, stuggling to fulfill his dreams, working at an inadequate workstation, grubbing for telescope time, grading papers and teaching classes to pay the rent, and I think what he could do if given the same opportunities I’ve had. Then I collapse in paroxysms of guilt.

I “comfort” and “motivate” myself by realizing that the problem is that I’m a lazy worthless ingrate, and I’d be miserable in whatever job I took, so I might as well just keep my nose to the grindstone to the best of my ability and get my goddamn PhD.

Well, erm, seriously: I’m proof that there is life after you get the Ph.D. (And, FWIW, that life can be surprisingly good!)

I spent a loooooong time getting my degree (changed specialities, switched schools, etc.,). My wife helped, threatened, cajoled at all the appropriate times and is now my chief advisor career-wise. We have kids (and as a proud papa yet again, I cannot resist sharing that we’ve a 6 day old boy in the cradle).

I was graduated in the summer of 1999 after a May defense. I now do forest and environmental policy analysis/research for the U.S. Forest Service and am negotiating for an adjunct position at Tulane University where I’ll be teaching an introduction to forestry/forestry and environment/forest policy course in the spring.

Three things helped me keep things in perspective:

(1) The Ph.D. is not the best research you’ll ever do, it’s the first.

(2) The best dissertation is the first one finished.

(3) Hi Opal!

And, as Winston Churchill said as his last commencement address - - seriously, this was the entire address to some graduating class in England - - “Never give up!”

I have my undergraduate degree in archaeology. Let me tell you this. There’s not much you can do with an undergraduate degree in archaeology. Most field positions (well, any you can make a living at) require an MA at the least, a PhD ideally.

I’m thinking of going to grad school. My undergrad career was less than stellar, as I was busy trying to save the world and put myself through college at the same time. It took me 5 years to get my degree (took a year off to make some money to pay for the last 2 years), and when I graduated, if they had told me I had to take one more class to get my degree, I firmly believe that I never would have gotten my undergrad degree. I was that tired of college. Well, I loved the academics, I was just tired of the uphill battle involved in getting a degree in a program where there were only 5 students and one full-time faculty member.

So I’m waiting until I’m good and prepared. I’m thinking of going for my teaching certificate first, then going back to get my MA or PhD in anthropology. I’m just not ready yet. I’ve only been out of college since May '99, and while I miss it terribly, I’m not ready to go back. So I’ll live vicariously through you all here.

Next year, I shall be a Grad student. I took the GRE just last Friday (July 6) and will apply in the fall. Without being too cocky, lets just say I had a good score. Can’t whine real well when you’re estatic.

I know I’ve mentioned this elsewhere but I plan to be a genetic counselor which is just a two year masters degree.

As many probably already know, I’m a law student. Only one year to go now. But it ain’t getting easier, and my summer classes this session are a royal pain. Class #1, “Legal Problems of Small Businesses”, will require two papers. This is for a month-long, two-hours-of-credit course. And one of the papers requires, as an attachment, that I chase around town for a business space lease, for a non-existant business. Like I don’t have anything better to do…besides, isn’t this “LEGAL problems of small businesses,” not “PRACTICAL problems blah blah blah”?

Class #2 is Antitrust. The class meets only twice a week, for two and a half hours each time. Man, you don’t know bored until you’ve heard a 2.5 hour lecture on the Sherman Act without taking a break…