Don’t forget to read part 1 of How to Succeed in Grad School for tips 1 through 6.
7. Consider vampirism, or if that’s too much for you, at the very least a decidedly inhumane nocturnal lifestyle
Because you won’t be seeing much of the sun anyway, and you’re not legally considered a person anymore
There isn’t really any other way to describe my experience of grad school in the summer time. So, unless you want to suffer a crippling depressive episode, I suggest you come to terms with the fact that you’re not really a person anymore. This will help in a few ways, but first allow me to justify that statement. It’s simple – you are expected to do things that simply defy rational human explanation (pay hundreds of dollars to go to work, for instance). Also, if you are among the unlucky group of lost souls that require a hefty student loan to finance your education, the government’s not gonna treat you like a person either. You’re a number and an accruer (don’t mind me while I invent new words) of interest. Don’t let the happy faces on that application brochure fool you. Once you’re in, the smiles turn to stiffly formal letters and scary legal-sounding words.
So, if you’re not a person, you might as well make the most of it and join the ranks of the undead – thanks to current tweenie trends, being a vampire is actually quite ‘with it’ these days. Not only will you be invulnerable to petty human emotions such as sadness that could negatively effect your productivity, you won’t feel as bad about spending sunny weekends trapped in your dank basement suite researching and writing papers. Here’s a useful website if you want to get started:http://www.vampirecentral.fiveworlds.org/FAQ.html
8. Start practicing how to best complain about your… ahem… thesis
Because it’s never too early to start complaining about it
If there is one thing that grad students love to complain about (in a list of hundreds of things to complain about), it is that single manifestation of all that is unjust and unholy in our world – the thesis (or dissertation, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here). In fact, I will now be referring to it as you-know-what, lest I grant it additional evil powers. The you-know-what has such potential to cause adverse effects to graduate students that they literally cannot help but complain about it before they have actually started working on it. Believe me – I am one of those students. Nothing is more scary – I’ve recently been having dreams about nuclear apocalypse and they don’t compare to the feeling I get from my you-know-what.
But this is supposed to be helpful. So here is my advice: start complaining now, before you’ve even been accepted to grad school, and you’ll be miles ahead of your sorry classmates by the time you-know-whats start actually shattering their lives. Practice makes perfect. In fact, if you have the luxury of having to do an interview for your grad school application, I heavily suggest that you complain about your you-know-what in the interview itself – this is likely to significantly impress your interviewer, who, after all, most likely attended grad school themselves. “This kid’s ahead of the game!” they’ll say. Guaranteed acceptance. You can thank me later.
9. Remove yourself from the dangers of over-involvement with society
Because you don’t want to develop multiple personalities
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my graduate education in psychology, it’s to avoid all possibility of developing Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Though they’re not totally sure what causes the illness, it’s thought to develop under conditions of extreme stress where dissociation occurs as a coping mechanism. Such as sexual abuse by a family member, or the lesser-known culprit: the grad student who grows dangerously close to thinking that they have a life due to frequent ventures into the human community. Repeated exposure to a society filled with non-grad students can lead an unsuspecting grad student to come dangerously close to believing that they have a proper place in this environment. When the crushing reality of their grad studentdom inevitably dawns on the poor grad student, they have essentially two options: acknowledge their limited existence in a crushing and demoralizing moment of self-pity, or delude themselves into thinking that they are in fact two separate personalities. Thus the birth of another unfortunate victim of DID.
So how do you prevent this grievous condition from developing? I’m glad you asked. The first thing I must say is to re-read the earlier entries in this series and to stick as well as you can to the guidelines set forth. Too many great potential contributors to society have succumbed to this grad student plague in full. Don’t be a statistic. Avoid allowing yourself to think that you are anything more than what you are: a grad student.