Have you recently begun grad school or are you thinking about going through with it someday? Be sure to follow these five tips and you’ll do just fine (probably):
1. Go to school in a college town, not a big city
You know what cities have? High costs of living. Do you know how much graduate students make? Not enough, and you usually have to take out student loans in addition to whatever tiny stipend your school offers you. So go to a school in a small town in the middle of nowhere where you will not accrue as much credit card debt in addition to your student loans.
2. Dump your boyfriend/girlfriend
Do you know how many available people are going to be in your graduate program? In ALL the graduate programs in the university? Let’s be real and include undergraduates, faculty and staff as well. That’s a lot of available people who are all interested in expanding their minds or making it easier for people to expand their minds. Plus, after you take a couple of classes on post-structuralism, you probably will want to experiment with other genders and polyamory and your boyfriend/girlfriend just won’t understand.
3. Do the assigned reading and go to class prepared
First off, attend. Classes are only gonna be once a week. Just go. They will likely be taught seminar-style, and having the confidence to ask questions and grapple over ideas with your classmates is how you learn. Do at least some of the reading – if you can steer the discussion toward the part of the reading you did immediately at the beginning of class, you probably won’t talk about the rest of the reading you didn’t do, because you’ll be stuck on that same topic for the whole two hours! If you’re a straight white man, then shut up and listen to what other people have to say – you’ve been hogging the spotlight for way too long. Just look at the list of contributors in any academic journal.
4. Submit your writing to journals and conferences to prepare for the job market
Speaking of academic journals, submit your writing to them. Repurpose your end-of-term papers to fit the specifications in the calls for papers that your department will endlessly send out on a listserv. I know you think your writing sucks – it does – but don’t let that stop you. Unless you are a straight white man; if that’s the case, team up with another person who is not also a straight white man and co-author a paper.
5. Keep your goals after graduation in mind
Do you want to keep researching, publishing and teaching? Get back together with your boyfriend/girlfriend if he/she is rich, and marry him/her. If that person isn’t rich, do your studying in the law or medical libraries. Do you want to be able to sustain yourself independently? Don’t go to graduate school. Keep your current career, whatever it is. Give up.