homeGeek CultureWebstoreeCards!Forums!Joy of Tech!AY2K!webcam

The Geek Culture Forums


Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | | search | faq | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» The Geek Culture Forums   » News, Reviews, Views!   » Our stupid lives   » grad school can really suck (Page 1)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!  
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: grad school can really suck
maia
Alpha Geek
Member # 3778

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 05, 2006 17:59      Profile for maia     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I suppose that one of the inevitable pitfalls of 10 straight years of higher education is burnout. Where once there was excitement and momentum, there now is disallusionment and boredom. I'm here in my second year of grad school, and I just can't force myself to give a damn about my research or getting this degree at all. I'm not even sure if I even really want to be a scientist. Part of me would rather be an art teacher or some type of animation artist. I really miss having time to paint and draw like I used to. My life is totally out of balance. I thought this was what I wanted, but now I'm so miserable. How do people deal with these major decisions in life? When you are faced with different paths in life, how do you know what will make you happy? To complicate matters I am dealing with depression, and I am trying not to make any decisions until I'm more rational. Its just hard to convince myself that all of this is worth it. Any suggestion? Words of encouragement?

--------------------
Nothing is too petty to be thoroughly discussed.

Posts: 316 | From: United States | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
dragonman97

SuperFan!
Member # 780

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted February 05, 2006 18:06      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Damned if I know. Sorry. I'm a procrastinator...and I /should/ do grad. studies, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet. If I'm to do it, it's going to be part time, shooting for a Masters first. If I'm lucky, work will pay for it. Time is a big part of the equation though - and I'm currently a bit burned out from work (though I tend to prefer work to studies at times).

/me suggests you look to Xanthine for motivation about grad school instead of me. [Razz]

--------------------
There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

Posts: 9331 | From: Westchester County, New York | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
YaYawoman

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 4505

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 05, 2006 19:37      Profile for YaYawoman     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi. I have a few suggestions for whatever they may be worth.
Before I start in I would like to say being aware of being depressed is half the battle to avoid making bad choices. Perhaps a visit to a doctor to see if maybe some medication can help?

First for general words of encouragement. Hang in there maia. Everyone faces choices like this. Sometimes it is the wrong choice. When you do realize it is the wrong choice the best bet is to make a plan to change it and step by step reverse the path and try for the other road.

I would advise not to stop the education path you have been on just yet. You like to draw and sometimes wish you were an art instructor? Why not volunteer? Is there a boys and girls club or a Women's shelter? Are there schools without the budget to hire full time art teachers? This would help you in several different ways. you would be doing your art again, children who might not have been exposed would benefit from what you are trying to teach, you would be able to decide if teaching is for you full-time and (I speak from experience here)doing something for others helps take yourself out of the jail depression creates and helps you reconnect with purpose and joy and drive.

That is just my two cents. I hope that it might have helped. oh, and always remember just keep slogging on no matter what. [Smile]

Posts: 765 | From: virginia | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
maia
Alpha Geek
Member # 3778

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 05, 2006 19:55      Profile for maia     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks, YaYa. Those are some good suggestions. I was thinking about trying to get involved with the local art scene. I am basically just facing a lack of balance in my life. I might just like to spend some time painting and try to get something into a gallery. There is a surprisingly large art scene here for a small town. And yes, I am currently being treated by modern medicine. I have been forever; these things run in my family. The problem is that people still have relatively limited knowledge about what is going on, so you just try random things to see what works. It can take serious time out of your life. But, it's just like any other illness and you just have to deal with it.

--------------------
Nothing is too petty to be thoroughly discussed.

Posts: 316 | From: United States | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 736

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 05, 2006 20:24      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I took a look at the thread title and wondered if truer words have ever been spoken. One of the worst parts for me at least is I have no clue when I'm getting out.

Nihil illegitami carborundum. Don't let the bastards grind you down. Scribble that on a piece of paper tape and it in your desk drawer. I have no idea where that motto came from. Maybe a grad student.

I knew going in that this is what I wanted, but that doesn't make a doctoral program easy. It's had it's peaks and it's valleys, and some of those valleys were really low. I spent the last ten weeks of my first year wondering if there was a lab or me or if I'd be out in the cold. I spent most of my second year banging my head against the wall. And I've had it relatively easy: I got my structure a week before Turkey Day 2005. My classmates are still banging their heads against the wall. One of my labmates had to change her project because she was getting nowhere. I know someone in another lab who's changed her project twice. It's hard. It sucks. And grad school consumes your life in ways you never imagined it could.

My advice is to first decide what you want. If you want to stay, stay. If you don't want to stay, it's no shame to quit. It's not worth sticking it out. Now, as far as the side activities that your soul go, I hit that wall last year (my second year). So I got aggressive. You will never find the time to paint if you're a grad student. Time will not appear for you. It is not in the nature of experiments to just be done at convenient times. You have to make the time. It's hard, but you can do it and if you want to survive with your humanity intact, you have to do it. Show your advisor your middle finger. Growl at him or her if you have to. Growl at yourself too if you have the tendency that I have to try and pack a month's work into a week.

How's your project going? Are you making progress? It's okay if it's slow. Everyone's slow the first two or three years, when you're still learning the ropes and you've got things like classes and quals to distract you. But do you feel like you're getting anywhere? If you feel like you're spinning your wheels, talk to your advisor. That's what he or she's there for. And if your advisor is inaccessible for some reason, either find a friendly post-doc or, better yet, a friendly PI. There's always a PI or two that people just go to when they're having an issue they can't or won't go to their own advisor for.

All the agony aside, I think it's worth it. We are the peple who make the discoveries, maia. We're the ones that change the world. You think everyone gets to do that?

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
magefile
Highlie
Member # 2918

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 05, 2006 21:21      Profile for magefile     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
here's always a PI or two that people just go to when they're having an issue they can't or won't go to their own advisor for.

A private investigator?
Posts: 743 | From: Massachusetts | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
zesovietrussian
SuperBlabberMouth!
Member # 1177

Icon 1 posted February 05, 2006 21:27      Profile for zesovietrussian     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by magefile:
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
here's always a PI or two that people just go to when they're having an issue they can't or won't go to their own advisor for.

A private investigator?
Principal investigator, AKA the slavedriver. Isn't that right, Xanthine?
Posts: 1094 | From: Boston | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 736

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 05, 2006 21:30      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
More or less, though mine typically backs off if you give him the finger. Especially since he knows when he's being a dick. I sometimes think he deliberately sets himself up for getting cussed at just to test our nerve.

It's when he's not testing you that you need to be worried.

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
littlefish
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
Member # 966

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted February 06, 2006 02:13      Profile for littlefish   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A couple of thoughts:

If it was easy, everyone would do it. For it to be worth something, there has to be struggle involved. And when you do hand your thesis in, it feels good. Really really good.

I don't know where you are about in your project, but no-one I know has ever got any results worth anything in their first year. The lucky ones have got things in their second year, and most people start getting good results in their third year.

Personally, I would stick with it, but that is because I enjoy what I do. If every day is a grind, then it may be worth chucking it in. However, there has never been more satisfaction in my life than when I saw a change in the shape of the CO rotational envelope under microwave heating, and knowing that it was something that no-one else had ever seen.

Mother nature does not give up her secrets easily, but if you can persuade her, it is worth it.

Posts: 2421 | From: That London | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
maximile

SuperFan!
Member # 3446

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 06, 2006 06:35      Profile for maximile   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
Nihil illegitami carborundum. Don't let the bastards grind you down. Scribble that on a piece of paper tape and it in your desk drawer. I have no idea where that motto came from. Maybe a grad student.

The first place I came across that was Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (though I'm sure that wasn't its first use).

Offred, whose sole purpose in this futuristic dystopian society is to have children, is rapidly coming to terms with the fact that she might never have a child, comes across the message scratched in a hidden place, presumably by a previous handmaid.

Anyway, maia, I don't have any suggestions. Except that it's probably worth it in the end. And animation is immensely repetitive and 90% hard work, with ten per cent fun and creativity (if you're lucky).

Of course, if you're going to spend the rest of your life wishing that you were an animator or an art teacher, then it's obvious what you should do.

Posts: 1085 | From: London, UK (Powys, UK in hols) | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
The Famous Druid

Gold Hearted SuperFan!
Member # 1769

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 02:09      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Maia, there's been several times when I've felt like you describe, sometimes I stuck at it, sometimes I said 'fsck it all' and walked away. Looking back, the time times I stuck at it, I'm glad I did. The times I walked away, I wish I'd done so sooner. Not particularly helpful, I know, but there you are.

Perhaps you just need to take a break and let off some steam, have you tried a week or so of booze and sexual excess?

--------------------
If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

Posts: 10669 | From: Melbourne, Australia | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Maggs
Geek
Member # 4682

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 09:34      Profile for Maggs     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey,

I am working on Grad School for Computer Science. It requires a lot of Math, and logic; and I am not really good at that. I study about 5 hours a day everyday, but I feel it's worth it.

If things were easier, everyone would be doing it. I figured I might as well challenge my mind, since my current job is a dead end in Retail Sales.

To see that loan balance staring me in the face, says to me "Sean, don't fuck around"

I am currently on the hook for $6,500. My degree in total is projected to get to $40,000. I can't afford to fail, so I will do everything possible to succeed.

Like a GC member said, "Nihil illegitami carborundum."

Don't let the bastards get you down. My parents for instance are the essence of negativity. SO I have to zone them out, and just put my ass to the grindstone.

I haven't slept a full 8 hrs since I started, but I am learning.

Posts: 193 | From: NYC | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
maia
Alpha Geek
Member # 3778

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 09:43      Profile for maia     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:
Perhaps you just need to take a break and let off some steam, have you tried a week or so of booze and sexual excess?

In fact, no, I have not tried that. That might just be the ticket.
[Wink]

--------------------
Nothing is too petty to be thoroughly discussed.

Posts: 316 | From: United States | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
The Famous Druid

Gold Hearted SuperFan!
Member # 1769

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 11:41      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by maia:
quote:
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:
Perhaps you just need to take a break and let off some steam, have you tried a week or so of booze and sexual excess?

In fact, no, I have not tried that. That might just be the ticket.
[Wink]

Shame you're so far away, or I could have helped out (with the booze). [Wink]

--------------------
If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

Posts: 10669 | From: Melbourne, Australia | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
joliet_jane
Alpha Geek
Member # 818

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 15:03      Profile for joliet_jane     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm in grad school for library science. I plan get my degree in one year. But even though that's fast, I don't feel motivated in a lot of my classes because it doesn't feel relevant. It seems like it's one of those "you study justice and you practice law" situations. I didn't come here to learn the "background" and "history" of librarianship, I came here so I can get a job. The school doesn't understand that.

I've talked to other students who feel the same way, so it's not just me.

--------------------
Please Visit http://www.wideweb.com/phonetrips/
And for Phun on the Phone:
http://www.Telephone-Entertainment.com/

Posts: 330 | From: PA | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Erbo
BlabberMouth, the Next Generation
Member # 199

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 15:10      Profile for Erbo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Don't forget Matt Groening's "grad school chant":

School's out! School's out!
Teacher let the monkeys out!
One was jailed! One prevailed!
Both asked God, "How have I failed?"


--------------------
See more From The Erbo Files: www.erbosoft.com/blog/

Posts: 1480 | From: Denver, CO, US | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
CommanderShroom
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
Member # 2097

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 18:56      Profile for CommanderShroom     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
maia,

I have no experience with grad school, or anything past High School.

But I do understand the frustration that comes from working yourself until you feel like the living dead. It gets too easy to lose sight of your goals. All you begin to see is the work.

Try and get out whenever you can. Take a day off and talk to people. Do something absolutely pointless once in a while. Just get away from everything.

Or, like TFD said, a week of consuming mind altering substances of your choice. It can help.

Good luck with everything.

--------------------
Does he know our big secret?
Has one of us confessed?
'Bout the wires circuits and motors
Buried in our chest

Posts: 2463 | From: Utarrrrggggghhh!!!!!!!! | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Metasquares
Highlie
Member # 4441

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 19:11      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Maggs:
[QB] Hey,

I am working on Grad School for Computer Science. It requires a lot of Math, and logic; and I am not really good at that. I study about 5 hours a day everyday, but I feel it's worth it.

MS or Ph. D.?

I applied to Ph. D. programs for next year (haven't heard back from anyone yet). I've also heard from several others that it was hard (I'm sure it is) and that you use a lot of math (Whatever it is, it can't be more difficult than what I've already done in math).

Difficult as it may be, there are a few reasons why I need to go to grad. school. The most important ones involve personal growth and heavier involvement in research (otherwise I'd go for an MS), but I suppose that being able to get a job as a researcher or professor is a very nice thing as well.

Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
maia
Alpha Geek
Member # 3778

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 22:08      Profile for maia     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the comments and tips everyone. [Smile] It really helps to get different perspectives on this.

Just to clarify, I am in my second year of ~5yrs of a PhD program. I did my undergrad in math, and this degree is molecular biology. It's been very challenging for me to make the switch into this new field. I've been able to keep up with classes, but research is a different story. My proposal (qualifying exam) for my dissertation is due March 23rd, and I've hardly started. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels, and I can't find the drive to get me to the other side. I wonder how much of it is school problems causing depression and how much is depression causing school problems. My guess is a bit of both. It's gotten to a point, though, where something must happen. I'm not taking care of myself physically or emotionally. My boss has offered me the option of staying on in his lab even if I decide to take a break from school for a while. I still haven't decided what to do.

The reason I post all this here is not just to vent, but also because I think there are common themes that other geeks here might be able to relate to. As geeks, we tend to be more wrapped up in our work or or education. This may cause us to become unbalanced in other areas of our life. In addition, we may come to define ourselves in terms of our accomplishments and lose track of our true inner selves.

How do we keep balance and peace in our lives while continuing to grow and challenge ourselves?

--------------------
Nothing is too petty to be thoroughly discussed.

Posts: 316 | From: United States | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 736

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 07, 2006 22:43      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey, maia, I wrote my orals/dissertation proposal last year. When I wrote it I'd been stuck in a cloning grind for about seven months, and one month after I turned it in, took and passed my orals, I was still trying to get out of the cloning grind. Such is the second year. In my program, it is EXTREMELY RARE for anyone to have any data to back up their orals proposal. It is only slightly less rare for people to actually write their dissertation on the same thing they proposed to do for their orals.

You're in the dark place now. I was there too for most of the second half of my second year. I had one terrible day when I just hit rock bottom and thought about hanging up my pipets and leaving. Only then did things start working. The lab gods will collect their due.

quote:
How do we keep balance and peace in our lives while continuing to grow and challenge ourselves?
I do aikido. I force a day off each week to go play outside. And I take at least a couple weeks off each year to climb mountains. The aikido keeps me sane; the mountains keep me whole.

You have your own outside interests. Force the time to pursue them.

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
Callipygous
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
Member # 2071

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted February 08, 2006 01:39      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Maia I hope that first you will take encouragement from littlefish waving at you from the end of the dark tunnel you are currently inside, he is extremely eloquent and inspiring about the rewards of your career. Secondly I hope that you think hard whether you can apply some Xanthine's strategies for survival, though it need not be an extreme physical activity like hers. Anything that enthuses you and engages a different portion of your mind and personality is good. In any career that can easily become all consuming (for instance politics or acting), a person has to make a definite and sustained effort to ensure that they give expression to, and develop the other sides of their personality, to avoid either going crazy, or even worse, becoming a crashing bore.

--------------------
"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

Posts: 2922 | From: Brighton - UK | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Grey_girl

Member # 2172

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 08, 2006 08:52      Profile for Grey_girl     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
You have your own outside interests. Force the time to pursue them.

maia, this is great advice, and a variation on what a friend told me when we were in grad school. I will never forget my friend telling me "You have to find your bliss" when I was going through what you are now. It took me a while to truly understand that he meant I had to find I something I did for me and only me, and hold onto that with both hands. It goes beyond finding something you enjoy doing. It means finding something that feeds your soul and allows you to shrug off the stress, like Xanthine and her aikido and climbing.

Me, I'm a bit strapped for time and cash (probably much like you), but I try to make a few minutes a day to just knit in a quiet place. I'm able to do that by spending a little more $$$$ to travel to and from work by a commuter bus rather than the crowded subway. Seems silly, but the downtime really helps.

And besides, a dissertation proposal in second year???? [Eek!] We didn't have to do those until late in our third year. Second year was spent on the Master's Thesis and first exam. It sounds like a really tough program, so you should be proud of yourself that you've gotten this far!

Posts: 764 | From: NYC | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 736

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 08, 2006 09:25      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A lot of straight-up PhD programs run that way. Doesn't mean your disseration will actually be on what you propose to do. In fact, it usually isn't.

Gotta love science.

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
Metasquares
Highlie
Member # 4441

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 08, 2006 09:50      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ditto on finding something that you do only because you want to. I spend 1-3 hours per day walking, playing the piano, and composing, even though I may be spending the rest of my day programming and doing research (not to mention going to classes to learn how to program and do research even more). It keeps me sane [Smile]
Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
ewomack
Highlie
Member # 3225

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted February 08, 2006 12:00      Profile for ewomack   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Everyone I've ever known in grad school (except one) has, at one time or another, expressed the "F-IT!" feelings that you describe. It's the Sisyphus factor. If we do something over and over again enough, we tend to get frisky and rebellious. But thankfully it passes. As a friend of mine put it: "What do you do when you burn out? You keep on working." Simplistic, but all too accurate.

As suggested, revel in your hobbies. If your job is your life, then you likely don't have much of a life.

--------------------
Ed Womack
Get Milked

Posts: 735 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged


All times are Eastern Time
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | Geek Culture Home Page

2015 Geek Culture

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.4.0



homeGeek CultureWebstoreeCards!Forums!Joy of Tech!AY2K!webcam