Summers in Grad School

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So, tomorrow is the last day of the spring semester. I swear, these semesters are getting shorter and shorter each time. It could jut be because I only do research, but I swear we just started the spring semester like last week. Oh well! Today, I want to discuss summers in grad school. It is literally the best time of year, mostly because it is hot and I live at a place with a pool. It is also a great time for grad students to catch up on work that they have been putting off. Shame on you lol. Just kidding.

Summer is a great time because you will most likely have more time to get stuff done. In some cases, summers are a bit slower than the rest of the year. In other cases, you might be pressured to finish papers, experiments, and everything else your adviser throws at you. I want to discuss a few things that I think will benefit you. Make the must of summers in grad school. You may not get another chance to have a free summer after graduation.

Take Time Off

So, summer is usually when people will take some time off. If you haven’t already, go check out my blog about vacations in grad school (link here and here). It may give you a few ideas. Anyway, I highly encourage you to take some time off. If you were taking courses during the semester, you deserve to have at least a week of just doing nothing or going somewhere that you’ve never been. Heck, go to the beach and get a tan. There’s no real need to push yourself hard after going through finals.

This is the time when faculty take off too. Your adviser might not even be in the country so why are you still going to the lab? I do understand if you have to get stuff done, such as, you are graduating soon and need to finish. But if you aren’t, go somewhere for a few days and experience life outside of academia. It’s so easy to be caught up in all of the work that we forget to experience life. Also, it is extremely toxic for you to continuously work, you’ll hit burn out really fast. Read about that here.

Get Some Papers Published

If you are in a doctorate program, you know the importance of publications. I literally cannot graduate unless I have at least 1, first author publication. In many departments, you might need even more than that. Summer is a great time to get out a publication. You have probably been doing quite a bit of work and have enough information to add something to the world of academia. Might as well write something up in summer, get it published, and get that out of the way. Plus, you’ll have quite a lot more time to write. Writing a publication takes a heck of a lot of time. Sometimes weeks just to write a 5000 work article. Summer is the time to do that.

Catch Up On Sleep

This is for all grad students. First off, sleep deprivation is only hurting you. Get some sleep before I call up your adviser and get them to yell at you. Working 16-20 hour days, day after day will lead to you probably having to leave your department. You are not getting any more productive work done than if you worked 8 hours. Trust me. Anyway, summer is a good time to sleep in. Sleep in every day if you have to. You will notice that your productivity will skyrocket over summer. Mine always does and I am not stressed out as I usually am during the spring and fall semesters. Summers in grad school should be somewhat relaxing. Why not relax by getting some decent (>8 hr) sleep.

Take Random Courses

There are plenty of courses that you can take during the summer to either have fun or learn something. We have leisure courses that are offered each semester. They include stuff like dancing, pottery, bar tending, and various other things. You don’t have to take those, you can take course online such as like a coding course, maybe a course on productivity (I have a ton through this link), mindfulness, learn to be a graphic designer, and a ton of other ones.

This is a great idea if you are taking like 1 or 2 classes over summer and really have nothing else to do. This is also a good way to make the most out of the free time that you have. I promise that you will be plenty busy come fall semester. Having the time during summer to be able to do random stuff is such a blessing and you really need to take full advantage of it.

Binge Shows and Movies

I want to stress the importance of doing something like this. You really need to have a few days where you aren’t “productive”, meaning, you aren’t working on your doctorate or master’s or whatever. Relax and unwind with a good Harry Potter movie or perhaps binge watch a show that you haven’t seen before. I actually have a blog post about watch to watch on you down time. Check it out through this link (here). As I stated before, summers in grad school need to be filled with relaxation. Binging shows is as relaxing as you can get.

I say invite over a friend and try and watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies. Make themed food and just spend the whole day watching them. Bonus if you do this on a rainy day. Raining day movie binge days are the absolute best and you all know it.

Catch Up on Exercise

Yes, I put mad emphasis on relaxation. One way in which you can relax is by exercising more. You know that you slacked a bit on going to the gym or even just walking. Summer is your chance to get back in the gym. Also, since most students are gone, the school gyms are likely empty. That means that the squat rack is actually open. Score!

If you just want to stay low key with exercise, I suggest at least creating some good habits such as walking each day and maybe running a bit. Check out my blog about the walking challenge that I do. You can start a challenge, get a metal, and create a healthy habit all at once. Here is a link to that blog post.

Maybe Start a Blog

Summers in grad school can free up a ton of time. If you are in grad school, you know that writing is super important. So import that I include it in most of my blog post. Starting a blog is a great way to develop those writing skills that you have been meaning to perfect. It also makes writing your thesis way easier. Trust me, what takes a day to write now, would have taken me a month prior to me starting a blog. Writing becomes such an easy thing.

Other than learning basic writing skills, you can also just have fun with it. Blogging is a great way to document your journey through grad school and it is extremely helpful for those that read it. I started with hardly anyone reading my stuff. Now, I have at minimum 25 people a day reading my material from all around the world. I am hopeful that I will get to at least 100 people a day by the end of my doctorate. That’s alot of people reading my stuff and learning about my journey through grad school. Why not be like me and start now. Soon people will be coming to you for advice on how they can make the most of grad school.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I love summers in grad school. Not only is it a time to be productive, but it is also a time to finally be able to breathe and relax a ton. For those in grad school now, let me know what types of things you’ll be doing this summer. I would love to know what everyone is doing. For those wondering how I will spend my summer, I’ll be writing up a paper, sleeping in, and going on a few trips throughout the summer. I will also be working a bit at the gym too. I have to make money to afford the plane tickets this summer lol.

Well everyone, I hope you are all having an amazing week. I know I sure am. I’m going to try and write another blog tomorrow, but we will see. If I don’t see you tomorrow, then I will the next day. As always, thanks for reading. Peace.

How to Prepare for Grad School After Acceptance

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If you are reading this, you probably just got accepted to grad school! I want to congratulate you on an amazing accomplishment and wish you the best. Grad school was one of the bets decisions that I have ever made. It has taught me so much about the world as well as about myself. I know you will absolutely love it. You probably showed up on this post because you want to know how to prepare for grad school after acceptance. It’s an important thing to think about and one that you need to really consider right before starting.

What Degree Did You Get In to?

This might determine the way in which you prepare after getting in. Some people have finished their master’s and are going to get a PhD. Some individuals are going for their master’s while others are starting their PhD’s immediately after undergrad. Each instance has a different way to prepare. I want to give some ways in which you can prepare for grad school after acceptance for each individual case. I think this is important because grad school can be extremely different for each person. So, covering as much as I can, I am hopeful to at least hit on something that pertains to your case.

How to prepare for grad school after acceptance: Master’s Degree

So you are accepted to get a master’s. This is huge and a great way to prepare you for an advancement in your career or prepare you for whatever comes after the degree. This was the route I initially took when going to grad school. Getting a master’s is a wonderful way to get a higher paycheck, get a position that will lead to better advancements, and you’ll be super competitive in the job world. Plus, all of the benefits come just after 2 very quick years of studies. Way better than going through the whole 4 years to get a degree lol.

Preparing for a master’s program is fairly straight forward. I would suggest a few things to do to make sure you are ready for the first day. Let me make a list of the stuff that I believe will help you prepare for grad school after acceptance into a master’s program.

prepare for grad school after acceptance by understanding visiting the campus

1) Get to know the campus

This means, schedule a tour and go see the actual campus. Go see how the town is like and the types of people that are there. Two years might be short, but can be pretty miserable if you absolutely hate the place you live. Go see where your major’s building is and you might stop in and say hello to faculty.

2) If you have an adviser, reach out to them and introduce yourself

Do not wait until the first day of class to talk to your adviser. Reach out to them beforehand and just get to know them. If you are doing research for them, see if there is anything that you can do to prepare for the work you’ll be doing. But, most importantly, get to know what type of person they are. Some advisers are really laid back while others might work you to death. Find out what type of individual they are which will get you ready for the next 2 years with them.

prepare for grad school after acceptance by understanding planning your course schedule

3) Schedule Classes

So, now that you are a student, schedule your classes. If you want to know more about how many courses you should take, I would highly suggest checking out the blog that I have written (link here). There are a ton of courses in which you can take. Focus on one’s that really interest you and will challenge you. Do some due diligence and find out how hard the course are, if the professor is good or not, and if the class is doable with your schedule. Also, make sure you are learning and not just surviving for a grade.

4) Go on Reddit and find the page that has your school

So, there is literally a reddit page for everything, including schools. Whatever school you get into, there will be a reddit page that discusses everything. Find it and ready a bunch of posts. People post all of their fears, emotions, ideas, and literally everything on their that involves the school. I highly suggest reading what they write.

How to prepare for grad school after acceptance: PhD after Undergrad

Preparing for grad school after being accepted into a PhD program is a bit different than a master’s. If you are going into one immediately after undergrad, it will follow just like your master’s. So everything that you read above will go into this section as well. There are a few differences though. Yes, you need to go check out the campus and get to know your adviser. But since you are going into research, you need to prepare a bit differently. This is definitely important as you will be in this program for 5 to 8 years after your undergrad. That’s a long time. You need to start strong to be able to finish strong. So let me go over a few things on how to prepare for a PhD if you are coming into it after undergrad.

prepare for grad school after acceptance by understanding research

1) Make sure you pick courses that will help your research

This is very important. Research the courses and find ones that will help you in your lab work or research work. Do not just sign up for easy courses. I mean, do this later if you need a GPA boost to get you off probation. But, other than that, sign up for courses that will help you in the research that you do.

2) Look for houses or apartment where you know you can love for a long time

In a Master’s program, you are there for 2 years. You can pretty much live everywhere and be fine. Starting a PhD, you will be in a college town for a very long time. Try and find a place where you think you’ll be able to live for the whole time. The worst thing ever is having to move all of the time in grad school. I have moved so much in grad school, so take my word for it. Try and find maybe a house or graduate apartment that is fairly cheap, livable, and close to campus. Really search for the right place to live. It makes a difference, I promise.

3) Start Reading About Your Research Field.

So, if you got accepted in the Spring and are starting in the fall, you have a whole summer to read up on your field of study and familiarize yourself with a ton of information. Start early and be prepared. It will save you a ton of time and effort when you do start doing research. This is also good when it comes to writing your literature review. Save the papers that you read so you can reference them later in the literature review. Read all about that process here.

PhD after a Master’s

Lastly, I want to talk about how to prepare after you have obtained your master’s and are going for your PhD. This is very similar to starting after undergrad, just a few extra things to add. This is what I did and being prepared for the transition was essential for my success. So, let’s go over so extra stuff on being prepared for grad school after acceptance into a PhD after a Master’s.

prepare for grad school after acceptance by understanding research methods

1) Familiarize yourself with lab procedures of research methods.

Getting a PhD is about research. You probably won’t be taking many classes at this point, but you will be doing a ton of research. Familiarize yourself with that. You might be used to only coursework so this might be a huge step for you.

2) Communicate with your adviser, a ton

So, you need to talk with your adviser a ton at this point. You need to familiarize yourself with everything about them. They are going to try and catch you up to all of their research really quickly so you can go right into it and produce data. I would suggest scheduling a time to meet with your adviser prior to starting the program. This will be about an hour or 2 meeting where you go over everything about the project and what you will be doing to make sure you graduate on time. This is extremely important to do.

prepare for grad school after acceptance by travelling

Things to do prior to starting to prepare for grad school after acceptance

I want to list off a few ways to spend the time prior to starting grad school. These are just as important as what I have written above. You are making a huge transition, so being prepared is a good way of making that transition so much easier. So here is a list of things you can do prior to leaving for grad school.

  1. Go on a trip somewhere
  2. Quit your job
  3. Hang out with your friends before going away to college
  4. Get a part-time job in the summer and make some money before leaving
  5. Hang out with your family as much as possible.
  6. Learn a new hobby. You’ll have the time.
  7. Practice mindfulness and learn how to cope with stress. You’ll need it for sure.
  8. Look into scholarships and see if you can get some extra money.
  9. Sleep in
  10. Start working out a ton and develop really good habits
  11. Enjoy the time you have and count your blessings.

Final Thoughts

You were accepted to a really good program and now it is time to prepare. It is a wonderful journey and I am so sad that it is coming to an end. Being prepared for this journey will help you a ton, I promise you that. As you go along, you will find other ways to be prepared. Next thing you know, you’ll be focusing on getting prepared for your career.

Grad school was/is such an amazing decision and I know you will have a wonderful time. It will be hard, but oh so worth it. I want to congratulate you again on taking this huge strep and wish you the best of luck.

If you are interested in other ways of being prepared, especially towards your degree, shoot me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. Also, if you haven’t already checked it out, go read my blog about if grad school is hard or not (link here). I hope to see you guys in the next one. Peace.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Cooking in College

This post about cooking in college may contain affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

I typed in “cooking in grad school” today and some really bad blogs/articles/Quora questions came up. Do people not write about cooking in college? Like, cooking is a huge skill that I strongly believe ever student needs to know. You don’t need to know hoe to cook the best food, but at least know how to make toast lol. Today, I want to discuss how you can get started with cooking in college when you actually have a kitchen and a few items. I was considering creating a little course to share with you all about cooking with limited cooking resources. Let me know if you would be interested. I was thinking about maybe showing how to cook the recipes from this blog post, and showing how to do it with everyday appliances and cooking supplies that most college students have. It’s an idea.

Anyway, I want to go over how to get started, a few tips, and why I think it’s an important skill and hobby that you need to pick up while in college and especially while you are in grad school. Let’s start off with why you should learn to cook and then we will go into some other stuff.

cooking in college

Why you should learn to cook in college.

I really hope you know why you should be cooking while in college. Like come on. What is better than showing off your culinary skills to friends and maybe your neighbors! Cooking is such an amazing hobby to pick up and it teaches you so much. It teaches you basic life skills like how to actually make food that is good for you, knife skills, shopping (financial) skills, and social skills. You do want to invite people over to show off, right?

Show Off!

I think one of the coolest things about learning to cook in college is being able to make crazing awesome dishes and really blow your friends away. I make pretty delicious recipes all of the time and my friends go crazy. You don’t even need to know extreme cooking skills to make stuff that is super delicious that your friends will absolutely love. There are plenty of recipes online where the dish might be like 4 or 5 steps and then it’s done. You need to know only basic culinary skills to cook them and they will always turn out amazing. Cooking is a great way to show off to your friends and make new friends. Everyone wants someone that knows how to cook in their lives.

cooking in college and grad school

Your Wallet Will Thank You!

So college is a very financially stressful time. College students are broke, but have some financial support from either their parents, loans, or some other method. Usually loans are the most helpful. Grad students may have loans, but many doctorates don’t take out loans and solely rely on making the equivalent of 10 dollars an hour. So, when in college, you are pretty poor. One thing that I find to be super expensive is eating fast food or getting to-go.

Each meal is about 10 dollars for one person and you might be eating out 2 to 3 times a day. Yes, I know people that eat out that much. College is easier because you can get on a dining plan at school and eat at the dining halls. These are often good choices, but you can and will gain weight since most of the time that food is pretty unhealthy. Not always, but often.

Going to the store, grabbing some veggies, protein, and other ingredients is fairly cheap and you can learn to make food that tastes better than the food you buy at a restaurant. Your wallet will thank you so much. I know that 20 dollars can get me way more food at the store than it can going out to eat. Also, getting groceries means you don’t have to tip extra. You can make things in bulk and have all of your meals done for the week for maybe $50. It’s such a win. If you get really good at cooking then the food you make will be healthier, better tasting and just way better in general than what you would get elsewhere. Heck, this article says that the average meal at a restaurant costs over 300% more than making it yourself. Save some money, learn to cook.

It’s a great hobby

I have written so much about hobbies in college (check out the link to those here). I want to let you know that one of the coolest and best hobbies to have is cooking. Also, baking is another great hobby to have. It’s easy, fun, and you get to eat. What is there not to love about it? Honestly, I find cooking to be one of the best hobbies that I have.

I get to be creative in the kitchen, mess around with flavors and spices, and eat what I make. It is an easy and cheap hobby that people will admire you for. Plus, you can get a cook chefs hat and maybe a funny apron. It is a great thing to do with friends and significant others. It is also something fun to do by yourself. I can’t stress it enough that you need to take up cooking. It really is amazing.

What to Get to Start Cooking in College

I am so glad that you asked!!!! The first thing to do is make sure that you have a kitchen to use. The next is to get a few pots and pans. One of my favorite things to do is go to a Good Will at the end of the semester. People that are moving away will donate their cooking stuff to them and you can buy really good stuff for dirt cheap. Grab whatever you can from there. It will be like 30 dollars but you’ll get hundreds of dollars worth of stuff. Trust me, it’s great. Another thing you can do is just acquire it from past roommates. That’s what I did. All of my cooking utensils, pots, pans, knives, etc. are from past roommates that have moved away. Nothing matches, but it all does what it’s supposed to do, help me cook.

List of things you probably should get

So I want to list off some things that you can get. I’ll post links to amazon pages where you can buy them. I would say go to Good Will, Walmart, or just buy on Amazon. It’s easy.

  1. Pots
  2. Pans
  3. Cutting board
  4. Spatula
  5. Rice Maker
  6. Whisk
  7. Knives
  8. Strainer
  9. Cast Iron. For those that just love the taste of charred foods.

I Think this is a good list to start. I will probably add more when I think of other essentials. But pretty much, this is what you start off with. As you get familiar with things and more comfortable in the kitchen, then you can start getting other cooking things. Knives, pots, pans, and a spatula are essential. A cutting board is also essential too. Whisks are good to have. A strainer is good if you want to make like noodles or maybe anything boiled. A rice maker is not essential but man do they make amazing rice. If you are a rice eater, get a ricer cooker. A cast iron pan isn’t essential at first, but eventually it should be the only thing you cook out of lol. I have one and cook in it every day.

How to Get Started.

So, I would suggest just getting into the kitchen and goofing around. Many people don’t like that so I’ll help you with a few resources that you can use. The first is YouTube. I found this course on YouTube and the guy goes over practically everything for beginners. The link to the channel is right here.

Another resource is watching Food Network when you have free time. Try and find recipes that the chefs make on their shows and try and cook with them. It is a great way to learn some simple, yet delicious recipes. I did this with the show, Good Eats. Yes, I am a huge Alton Brown fan. I hope he reads this blog post and comments. In fact, my love of science pretty much comes from watching all of his shows when I was a kid. Thanks Alton, you’re the man. Honestly, watching all of the shows really helps you to get the basic skills down. The more advance stuff comes with experience. Make sure you get the basics down and the advance stuff will come quite easily later.

If you are looking for recipes, just type in copy cat recipes of some of your favorite restaurant meals. Someone, somewhere, made a recipe that will tastes like your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant. Follow the recipe at first. Learn how to make the recipes first before you start making changes. Also, buy cook books. It doesn’t matter the cookbook, just get one. Make the stuff in there and see if you are even able to. You’ll be surprised how easy most things are yet they seem so complicated.

Final Thoughts

It’s the end of this segment but I hope to be able to continue with some cooking stuff in the future. If you want me to write more about cooking in college and grad school, leave me a comment or send me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. As I said, I love cooking. I would love to talk about cooking and getting started with you.

I hope you all liked this post. seriously, I really do think making a mini cooking course would be fun. Let me know what you think. As always, I hope you all have a wonderful day and week. I have to get up early tomorrow for a job interview, so I need to get to bed here soon. Hopefully you guys are productive tomorrow and everyday. I will see you all in the next one. Peace!

Update on what’s going on in my life

I have a feeling that some of you are a bit mad at me because I am not writing to you guys as much. Instead, I have been writing to the “internet”. Yes, I have been focusing on SEO and it has worked. I am getting like 10 to 15 people a day to my website. You guys know how hard it is to get organic traffic, so I am super happy about that.

Today, I want to write to you guys, my followers and friends. I haven’t really done this in a while and it shows as many people on wordpress aren’t liking my posts as much as they used to. I will make sure to write some of these informal posts here and there. They really do help me by allowing me to vent a bit/journal. As you all know, I have been coping with anxiety and a bit of depression for a while now. Blogging has significantly reduced those feelings and I want to thank you all for the support. You really are an amazing group of people and I think there are about 1500+ of you following my blog. Thank you all.

My Weekend

This weekend, I am heading to Sarasota to celebrate my girlfriends birthday. We are going to see her family friends that live there and have a fiesta! I am really looking forward to it and seeing everyone. I have been a bit of a recluse lately because I am trying to get a first draft of a paper to my adviser. Yes, I have another paper that I am hoping can get published in a high impact journal. Honestly, the data is a bit weird and it may just end up in some other type of journal that really isn’t much. But, I will be optimistic and say that I think this paper will get into a higher impact journal than my last.

If you want to read my last paper, here is a link. It’s a literature review, which means that it is long and boring lol. There might be a pay wall, though. Just read the abstract and you’ll know everything there is about it lol.

I am in the final stretch of my doctorate. I have about 6 months until I defend my research and I really have been going hard with lab work. By the end of September, I have to have a rough draft of my dissertation to submit to the school, so I need to get on that lol. Nothing like a bit of anxiety to really get you in the writing mood, right?

Sirius

Sirius is doing well. He was being a little brat the other day and escaped his carrier when I was walking up to my apartment. I had to chase him around the complex, but luckily I was able to catch him and bring him inside. He has been so cuddly at night which makes my heart happy. I have been oversleeping because of him too. He tends to curl up right next to my chest and it just makes getting up really hard. Also, he is very energetic when I am home which has been a problem being productive. He really loves to play with his toys, and me.

New Chapters

Lastly, I have been applying for jobs and actually got an interview, 8 months before graduation. I am slightly nervous for it, as I haven’t done an interview in like 6 years. I don’t know what to expect, but I know I will be ready when the time comes. This will be my first virtual interview, so it’s a bit different than what I am used to.

Final Thoughts

I hope everyone is having an awesome week. It is almost the weekend and the weather is getting amazing. I believe I will be spending the vast majority of the weekend outdoors and I can’t wait. Doing lab work is really fun, but spending time outside, with friends and family just really takes the cake. Also, there will be cake this weekend so I am excited lol. Let me know in the comments what you plan to do this weekend? Anything fun? As always, have an awesome day and I will see you in the next one. Peace!

How to Get Ahead in College

This post about how to get ahead in college may contain affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

Hello you wonderful, intelligent, and fabulous person. You are obviously here because you want to know how to get ahead in college. You might be an undergrad that feels a bit behind or a grad student that has been behind the entire time. No matter why you are here, I am just glad you are. I want to give some tips for you to get ahead in whatever you are doing in college. I also want to specifically target different groups (undergrads and grads) to share different ways to stay ahead in that degree.

Getting ahead in college can be quite a challenge. You honestly have to start strong in the beginning and keep that momentum throughout the whole semester. The challenging part is towards the end when you get overwhelmed with exams, projects, homework, and just life. It seems like towards the end, people tend to slip backwards, just because of how overwhelming is can be. They tend to get back into bad habits such as not exercising, not eating right, and also getting very little sleep. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. So, I am here today to (hopefully) give some great advice on how you can get ahead in college and grad school.

Getting ahead in college

Getting Ahead in College as an Undergrad

I was once in your shoes. I graduated from the University of Florida in 2016 with a bachelors in environmental engineering. Any engineering degree is going to make you feel like you are behind in your studies, trust me. Somehow, and I think I know why, I stayed ahead in my studies and graduated with honors. I did it with a bit of persistence and some luck. I want to share with you some of the things that I did that kept me ahead in college so I could graduate on time and without too much stress.

1) Procrastination will hurt you

The biggest suggestion that I give people when they ask me how they can get more done but also enjoy college, I tell them stop procrastinating. I think procrastination is one of those things that will just hurt you in the long run. I get it, you might be telling yourself that you do your best work when you put it off. Well, that might be true if you have one assignment, but what happens when you get to the end of the semester and have 5 or 6 assignments and papers? Then putting it off until the last minute might not be such a good idea.

The key to staying ahead is to stat early and stay on top of assignments. Finish them early and it will free up a ton of time for you to enjoy life or do fun things. By procrastinating, you might have free time, but you’re going to be in a world of hurt when those deadlines come knocking.

eat healthy to get ahead in college

2) Stay Moving

Exercise has been shown to boost productivity as well as learning capabilities. It increases energy and makes you feel so much better. The key to staying ahead or getting ahead can come from just exercising and staying healthy. One thing that I have experienced in college that seems to drag me down is just stress. Stress makes me think about all of the stuff that I need to do and I freak myself out. Exercise is a great way to reduce that stress and think clearly. You’ll see that the stuff you have to do isn’t that hard or the amount of work you have really isn’t bad. You can get it done and boom, you’re ahead in your studies!

3) Do not go for perfection

Just get started, is what I tell myself all of the time. We are all, in some form, perfectionists. The key to getting ahead in college is to throw that sense of perfection away for a bit and just get the work done. You can always go back and make it better. This is especially true e with writing. The key to getting ahead in college is to just start. Whatever it may be, just start doing it and go back to it later to make it better. I think the hardest part is just getting started. We want to make sure the paper or assignment gets an A, so we plan out so much time just thinking about it or put it off for a bit until we think we are ready to tackle it. Don’t do this, start early and just aim to get some of it, if not all of it, done. This serves a few purposes. First, if you finish an assignment, even if it’s not perfect, at least you can submit it. second, you will have something to work with and make perfect after you finish it.

Do you think papers are perfect in their first draft? Heck NO!!!! So if your first draft is at 10 PM and the assignment is due at 12 am that night, do you think you will have a perfect paper ? Probably not. Aim to get something done early so you have the equivalent to the quality of the 2 hour assignment, but give yourself enough time to perfect it. Your grades will thank you significantly.

4) Sleep, Please

Get to bed at a reasonable time. Don’t brag to people about how you got 3 hours of sleep because you were up working on your assignment that was due. No one wants to hear you brag. Go to bed at a reasonable time and get up at a reasonable time. Stay consistent and you will notice that you aren’t extremally tired all oft the time and have a ton of energy to tackle anything in your way.

You will also notice that you’ll retain more information when you are fully rested and you’ll be able to solve more problems with a clear head. I made sure to get to bed each night before 12 and wake up no later than 9 am. I function best with 8 to 9 hours of sleep and ound that the weeks where I got enough sleep were the most productive and least stress filled ones. The weeks where I would party and procrastinate were some of the most stressful.

5) Limit the partying, but don’t give it up

College is about meeting people, learning ideas, and having fun. Yes, going to parties is part of the fun and frankly, a major part of college. Does that mean you need to be out at the clubs and bars each night/? I would say no. But, it is good to get out and hang with friends and meet new people. It honestly helps build social skills and may even get you a significant other lol.

But if you want to get ahead in college, you need to sacrifice some of those “all-you-can-drink Wednesdays” and do some work. We all have to sacrifice some things in our life, you can give up a few nights on the town. Your wallet will thank you lol. I would suggest going out as a reward for hard work. Say you have an assignment coming up that is due on a Friday but you want to go out Thursday. Why not use going out on Thursday as a reason to get your assignment done really fast so you can enjoy the night without worrying about finishing the assignment for class. You can also use what I talked about in point 3. If you finish the assignment before going out then the next day, you can polish it up a bit before sending it in.

Getting Ahead in College as a Grad Student

Everything that would help you get ahead as an undergrad works well as a grad student. Sleep, not procrastinating, and limiting the partying. There are a few extra things in grad school that I want to discuss that will help you get ahead and stay ahead. Staying ahead in grad school is probably the most important thing because it will prevent you from having to stay longer than you want. So, let’s dive into some of the extra things that I can add to the list for grad students.

1) Stay in contact with your adviser

I can not stress the importance of staying up to date with your adviser. You will have a whole bunch of things that you’ll need to do for them. Some things you’ll be doing alone. You need to know their expectations and what they want from you. Make sure to meet with them at least twice a month, if not more. They are ultimately in charge of when you graduate, so you need to make sure that you are meeting their expectations and are moving along nicely in your timeline.

2) Keep up to date with all major milestones and deadlines

There are many deadlines that you will need to make sure you hit. Stay up to date with these. They include qualifying exams, paper submissions, conferences, and various other things like that. Know when they are and give yourself plenty of time to prepare for them. They may seem so far away, but time really flies by when you are in grad school. Next thing you know, you’re getting ready for graduation. Make sure to know when everything is due and that will keep you ahead.

3) Stop being such a recluse

One of the most important things that I did was reach out to other grad students and make friends with them. Yes, you will be alone a lot, but you don’t need to be alone all of the time. The best way to get ahead is to stay active in the grad school community. Talk to others, get ideas from them, and network. It helps to reduce the feelings of loneliness and anxiety as well as benefits you later. Many connections that I have made in grad school have really paid off. People that I have talked to have helped me understand complex ideas, gotten me job offers, and just became my fiends. All have helped to get me ahead in college.

Get Ahead in College With These Tips

There are a few extra tips that I want to share that can be included to either one of the above sections. These are tips that will overall help you stay ahead in whichever degree that you pursue. I am sure you have done a few of these. Let’s get started.

1) Start Early. Stay on top of assignments from day 1 of the semester

2) Stay healthy. That means exercise and eat healthy food

3) Go to networking events to meet potential employers. Nothing says staying ahead and finishing school like having a job right out of college.

4) Get a part time job to force you to complete assignments early so you can work.

5) Get a planner (like this one)

6) Stay organized. Clutter can make things difficult

7) Above all else, be kind to yourself. You might fall behind at some points but you will get back up. Don’t put yourself down if you do fall a little behind.

Final Thoughts

For those that are highly productive in college, what else would you add to this list? I truly think that if you plan things out right, you can kick college’s butt and end up on top, no matter what your degree is in. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my list. I am quite curious of what people think.

If you haven’t read my blog about Moving during grad school, I strongly suggest reading about it. That might be one way to stay ahead in college lol (link here). As always, I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next one. Peace.

How Much Free Time Do Grad Students Have?

Ahhhh, the age old question. Will you have any free time in grad school? The answer, is always, and will always be, YES!!!! If someone says that you will be busy from sun up to sun down, everyday, stay away from them. They are clearly doing something wrong. So then why do people say you won’t have any free time in grad school? If you want to find out what I think, you have to promise me that you will read this whole post. I’m just kidding, I’ll talk about it right after this.

free time in grad school

Will You have free time in Grad School?

As I said above, yes, you will have free time to do things you love. In fact, you might have a ton of time to do many things. Yes, you will be plenty busy towards the end of semesters and deadline. But, for the most part, you’ll likely have enough time to do the things you are passionate about. People often say that you will be busy all of the time. This just isn’t true. The people that are busy all of the time are the ones about to graduate or the ones that are about to hit a bit milestone such as defending or doing their qualifying exam. People often want to feel important so they brag about the hours they spend in the lab. I guarantee that they spend like a hour actually doin work and the rest of the time is watching Netflix.

People say that you will be busy all of the time because maybe they think that everyone needs to be busy. Apparently, in grad school, as well as life, it’s a cool thing to brag about how busy you are all the time. You know what happens when you are busy all of the time? You burn out. Also, being busy all of the time and working non stop is a great way to just let your life fly by. I would rather end my day at a reasonable time and enjoy things than work a few extra hours to get some small tasks done. I get that hard work is good, but people take it to the extreme and really make things toxic.

amount of free time in grad school

So about how much free time will you have?

If you are coming in to grad school directly from undergrad, you may seem like you have less free time. Undergrad, for most people, has a ton of free time. Now, by free time, I mean non classwork related activities. So, clubs, jobs, and other things I will put as “free time”. Outside of the classroom, you have ample amount of time to do whatever it is you do. In grad school, you’ll be focused more on coursework and research, so it may seem like there’s less time to do other things.

For those that are going to grad school from working full time, you’ll pretty much have the same amount of free time as you do while working full time. As I said in past blogs (link here), grad school is like a full time job. Once you’re done for the day, leave the work at the office and go home.

So, to answer the above question, grad school will take about 8 to 10 hours of your day. Sometimes much less, sometimes much more, and the rest is free time. That leaves about 8 hours of the day to do other things such as wood carving, doing other hobbies, working out, getting extra money, blogging, meditating, and everything else that I mention in blog posts lol. I highly recommend reading those posts if you are interested in any of them.

free time in master's program

How Much Free In Grad School: Master’s Program?

So, I am going to break this into two sections. The first will deal with master’s students and the second will be PhD students. I won’t be covering medical students or law students because I am neither and do not want to give you the wrong information.

So, in a master’s program, you will be mostly dealing with course work. I laid out how many hours you should spend doing coursework based on how many credits you are taking (here). A rule of thumb is you will spend about 3 hours per credit hour studying. A full time master’s student will most likely take 9 credits, 12 at the very most. 9*3=27 hours a week on classwork which leaves the rest to doing whatever you want! That’s right, spend the rest of the workweek doing anything except classwork lol.

Of course, these numbers will fluctuate throughout the year. While finishing my master’s, I had weeks where I works seemingly non stop for like 2 weeks straight. Other times, I maybe put in 5 hours tops during the week. You will have plenty of free time in a master’s program, trust me.

How Much Free time in grad school: PhD Program?

free time in PhD program

This one is a bit different than a master’s. You will probably be doing research mostly, and you’ll technically be “on call” 24/7. This does not mean that you need to work all of the time. No, keep it like a job and make sure to end the day. I would say that a PhD is a 8 to 5 job with the occasional 8 to 8 days/ multiple days. Yes, you’ll have free time. As much as a master’s student? probably not, but you will have a decent amount of time to be a human. Remember, you’re human and not a robot.

I have known people to work and publish a ton and I know of people that put in like 3 hours a day and go do other things. An old coworker of mine held a full time job on top of his stipend while in his PhD program. I know many people that finish at 3 each day, get plenty of work done, and manage to make it to 2 or three intramural sports events. The amount of free time that you have in a PhD program is completely up to you.

This changes when there is a deadline. The amount of free time leading up to your qualifying exam is near 0 and the same when writing your thesis. Those are not year long events and will only take up a small percentage of your time in academia. Deadlines will have you running around, doing work, but all deadlines do. There’s nothing different.

Final Thought

If you are thinking about going to grad school but are concerned that you will work your life away, don’t worry, you won’t. You’ll be plenty busy but not overly busy where you can’t enjoy the occasional hike around your apartment complex or going to a bar at night lol. I actually believe that being constantly busy in grad school is a terrible thing to do and you shouldn’t do that. Towards the end, you may start to actually like what you do. I know, I have gotten to a point where my free time is spent building things for experiments or reading about my research. Yes, I do work in my free time but because I actually want to. You may get to this point later on.

Enjoy these few years in grad school. You won’t get them back. The years will pass by very quickly so enjoy every minute of the ride. If you have any questions or concerns, send me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. If you haven’t already, go check out my blog on how my cat doesn’t really let me work lol. I have a link to that blog (here). I hope you all have a wonderful week, and I will see you next time.

What to expect at the end of a PhD

My years as a doctorate student are coming to an end, and quickly. I am currently in the process of finishing up my research and writing papers for publication. I was told that I will be defending in October of this year, which means that I need to have my thesis written by the end of September!!! WOW. I have less than 6 months before I can (hopefully) call myself Dr. Ben. That is exciting, yet oddly terrifying. I don’t really know what to expect at the end of my PhD, but I have some idea I suppose.

Today I want to talk about the end of your PhD and what to expect. There will be a ton of things that will occur in the final year of your doctorate and you’ll need to be ready. I assume that the final year is different for everyone. Grad school is much different than undergrad because you are finishing up your research instead of finishing coursework. Of course the end of a master’s might be very similar to an undergrad, so we won’t really talk about that today.

what to expect at the end of a phd 1 year out

What to expect in the final Year of a PhD?

Let us start off with the final year of a PhD. If you are in a doctoral program, getting to this is a heck of an accomplishment and I applaud you. It is not an easy task being able to continue all the way to the end. You have gone through some tough times to get to this stage of your doctorate. Don’t slack off yet, though.

The final year of your doctorate will be you finishing up your research and writing your thesis. If you are the few that are able to complete their research earlier than this, congrats, it’s time to write. For the rest of us slackers (lol), we need to start considering wrapping our research up so we can start the very long process of writing. At the one year mark, start planning out when you are going to be able to finish the research and when you are able to focus on writing your chapters. Many people often write while they go along. This is the smart thing to do but it is often difficult, because you know, writing! If you are in the last year, start to at least put your introductions together. Just starting now will help you so much later.

Start finishing up your experiments or at least planning out when to finish them. There might be a chapter where you still need to do those experiments. Start those as soon as you can. If you are not able to for a bit, at least write a bit of the chapter so you can put in the results later, after you finish doing the experiments.

One year out will be the time to plan the end game for your doctorate. Start laying out a timeline of when to finish, when to write, and when to start job hunting. Stick to the plan and I promise that your final year will be a lot less hectic than your mind is telling you, or what reddit is telling you lol.

what to expect at the end of a phd 6  months out

What To Expect in the Final 6 Months of a PhD

This is where I am currently at. It is April and I defend in October. That gives me 6 months to get ready for the final exam (aka my defense). There is a ton going on and it is keeping me really really busy. This is how it will be for you. You might spend countless hours in the lab, finalizing some experiments. The amount of writing that you will do will be insane. And on top of that, you will have to be considering jobs. All in the final 6 months of grad school.

You may have to give some things up to make sure you finish on time. Free time may be taken up with writing or editing your thesis. Weekends might be taken up by going to the lab or possibly creating graphs of your data so you can finish one of your chapters. The weeks are going to pass by so quickly and the amount of work is going to get a bit overwhelming at times. This is just at 6 months out. Imaging what 3 months out will be like lol.

In the last 6 months, expect to actually be finishing all of your research. By 4 months out, you should be completely done, minus a few small experiments to check your results from your larger experiments. I would say, give yourself at least 4 months to write your thesis, if you are just starting. If you have already started, 4 months is still a good time frame because you won’t be rushing too much towards the end.

what to expect at the end of a PhD 3 months out

What to expect the final 3 months of your PhD

When you get to about 3 months from defending, start looking for jobs. If you are like me, you’ll probably want to secure something by the time you graduate. Three months is a good time frame because companies will see that you are about to graduate so they can have you fill the more immediate positions. Of course, you can apply for companies or professorships even further out than 3 months. I just found that the closer to graduation, the more interviews you are likely going to get.

The final month to two months prior to defending will be late nights of writing and probably days of doing interviews for positions that you applied for. I haven’t gotten to this yet, so I am only speculating. I am expecting that the final two months prior to defending will be chaotic.

what to expect at the end of a phd after you defend

What to Expect after you Defend

So this is it, you’ve waiting your entire 3 to 8 years to get this point and you finally did it. You defended your research and have become a doctor! Congrats! Now what? What to expect at the end of a PhD, the very end? You will be told to do revisions on your thesis for sure. Everyone gets them and you are going to be somewhat busy doing those. The revisions are mostly to make sure the school accepts the thesis for publication and then you’re done. Celebrate, go on vacation, bake a cake, do something to celebrate your accomplishment. It is well deserved!

The final 2 months after you defend will mostly be you writing, going on trips, sleeping a ton, and finding your next career. Once all of that is settled, it is time to start the next chapter of your life, whatever that may be.

Final Thoughts

For those that have finished their PhDs, what were the last few months like? Were they similar to what I have posted in here or were they different. Let me know in the comments. I hope this blog about what to expect at the end of your PhD was enlightening or though provoking. What other posts would you like me to cover? Let me know in the comments or send me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. I would greatly appreciate either.

If you haven’t’ already, go check out my blog about travelling while in grad school. Link here. It may give you some cool ideas after you finish writing your thesis. Ok, now go write a chapter and get to sleep early. I will catch you in the next one. Peace!

Dating a Law Student

Ah, the wonderful years of dating grad students lol. If you haven’t experienced it, you’re truly missing out. Grad school is intense and sdating is one of these things that can be quite tricky when you are in grad school. I have written about dating in grad school. You can check that blog post out here. Today, I want to tell you a little about dating a law student!

Yes, law school is difficult, time consuming, soul crushing, and everything else you can say that makes it sound terrible. Law students and engineering students are very closely related, neither of them stop studying. Also, neither get a decent amount of sleep. I am not going to talk about dating an engineer today. I can in future posts if you want me to talk about that. Let me know in the comments. No, today, I want to discuss what you are likely to experience while dating a law student. It isn’t as bad as it sounds.

dating a law student

The Good Things about Dating a Law Student

There are so many good things about dating a lawyer/law student. I want to discuss a few of those in this post, then I will dive into the challenges of dating a law student after this. I will then follow up with some tips and how to make sure that the relationship lasts during these really intense years. Let’s get started with the goof things.

1) You significant other is making a good decision, not just for them, but for both of you

This is mainly for people that are currently in a relationship with a law student. The choice to go to law school is a very difficult yet highly rewarding one. Lawyers make a decent living and they are some of the hardest working and smartest people out there. The choice to go to law school and become a lawyer or work in law is a very lucrative one. Your significant other will make a good living which means you’ll probably be well off as well. There are some exceptions of course, but for the most part, you both will be just fine.

dating law students

2) You are dating someone that will have a lot to talk about

This is great because dating a law student comes with some interesting things that you will learn and even some juicy gossip too. While in law school, my girlfriend always brought up all of the cool things that she learned as well as the fun things that were going on un her class. There was a ton of cool drama that I just didn’t experience while working full time. I also learned about interesting cases as well as a ton of interesting laws. Law school really provided her with a ton of cool and interesting things to talk about.

3) Law Students are smart

This is always a plus because you can have really meaningful and in depth conversations with them. The amount pf knowledge that law students have is incredible and you will learn so much from them. Just be careful and not try and correct them. Remember, they are learning how to argue in college lol. Dating someone that is very intelligent is a great way to learn more and educate yourself even more. They are also very good to show off at parties lol.

4) You can show them off to your friends

Law students are great to bring home to family. When my parents found out that my girlfriend was going to law school, you could see how impressed they were. My friends were also extremely impressed as well. It is always fun to be able to show off that my girlfriend was a law student. Now, she’s an actual lawyer, which makes showing her off even easier. lol.

5) They can help you stay out of trouble.

The best part about dating a law student is asking legal advice without having to pay lol. You can also find out if what you are doing is illegal, though I would assume that you aren’t purposefully trying to do illegal things, right? If I ever needed some legal help or to see if what I found online was actually legitimate, I would ask my girlfriend. She knew the laws better than anyone I knew, which made it great. It saved valuable time too since I could just ask her something and she would have the answer.

hardships of dating a law student

The Hardships of Dating a Law Student

Of course, whenever there is good, there will be bad. Dating a law student can be extremely rewarding, but I promise you that it will be fairly hard as well. They are busy people and the amount of work and stress that have in their lives can make the relationship fairly difficult. Hold tight though, I promise you that it’s worth it.

1) They probably won’t spend the weekends outside of the library

At the beginning of the semester, you’ll have a bit more free time to hang with them. But towards the middle and end, they’ll be in the library. The thing that really stinks about law school are the exams at the end and the competitiveness of law school. See, I only compete with myself. There are hardships in my program but at least I don’t have to compete with others just to pass a class. In law school, it’s all about out competing, out studying, out performing your colleague. This makes it hard because you will need to put in the work. When dating a law student, you have to realize that they are studying so much so they pass the class and don’t have someone else set the curve which gives them a failing grade.

Towards the end of the semester, they will be working non stop and doing a ton of readings. You may not see them for weeks, which can make things quite difficult. Unfortunately, this is how it is.

hardships of dating in ;aw school

2) There will be moments of overwhelming stress that you might have to deal with

Law school can make people lose their cool really quickly. If you are dating a law student, they might blow up on you because they are overwhelmed at the moment and are having a hard time coping. When you are under so much pressure, no matter how well you usually cope, you’re bound to have at least one outburst. It sucks, but it happens. Sometimes the best thing to do is stay out of the way or get your significant other some food. Show your support but know that at any moment, your head might be ripped off lol.

3) You might be sick and tired of hearing about cases and laws

I never want to hear about Torts again. Heck, I don’t even know what it is but I know it’s god awful. A law student has one job, learn to be a good lawyer and learn about the laws that are out there. So, that’s their life for three years and that is what they will most likely talk about 24/7. It’s cool at first but all good things come to an end. I can’t complain though because my girlfriend has to hear me talk about my research all of the time lol.

Just know that you are going to learn about stuff that you really won’t care about, but that’s the life of dating a law student. Just be happy that they haven’t found a way to send you to jail lol.

4) School will come first

You might feel like you are second to school. That is, because you are. Law school should be their number one priority and that might make you number two, hopefully not number three. It’s hard to handle this and may come as a shocker, especially if you just started dating them. Trust me, it is worth it and you will be back to number one, during summer and after the bar exam. Be grateful that they have incorporated you into their crazy lives. Just having you there means a ton. They are trying their hardest to be a significant other and a student. Of course, they will probably put their studies before you most of the time. This is why this is included in the hardships section.

tips on dating a law student

Tips for dating a law student

Here are a few tips when dating a law student. I have done it, so I know what I am talking about. Well, mostly know what I am talking about lol. Anyway, here are a few tips that can help you during the three years of law school.

  1. Learn to cook and cook for them often.
  2. You do not need to stay up at night with them while they study. They will be studying for a while. Get some rest.
  3. Encourage them to go on walks with you every so often. Let them know that there is more that their books.
  4. Just listen to them when they rant. Sometimes they just need to get it all out.
  5. Don’t get caught up in their stress. Just because they are stressed does not mean you have to be.
  6. Encourage them to find an outlet other than alcohol. Self explanatory.
  7. Understand that it will pass. Assure them that it will pass and they will reach their goals.
  8. Be supportive
  9. Big one!!!! Don’t say that law school is easy. Never do this.
  10. Celebrate the small wins.

Final Thoughts

Dating a law student can be difficult yet very rewarding. Your relationship will see all sorts of ups and downs and you’ll grow stronger together. Law school is almost like travelling with someone. You will see the best of them and the worst. Keep at it and don’t give up.

I hope this was a decent post. If you haven’t read my blog about the best gifts for grad students, I suggest taking a look (link here). These ideas are great for law student s as well. As always, I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next one. Adios!

Should You Drop Out of Grad School?

Unfortunately, this is a tough subject to talk about, but one that is important. If you are asking yourself “should I drop out of grad school?”, you are either 1) actually considering it or 2) just a typical grad student lol. If you are seriously considering dropping out of grad school, then you are in the right place. I am not here to stop you from doing it, but I do want to bring up some things that may make you reconsider. Grad school is hard, life is short, and you deserve to be happy, regardless of some stupid degree.

Anyway, today we are going to focus on the age old question “should I drop out of grad school?” lol. It is a very difficult question to ask yourself and you will have to consider quite a few things before you go through the process of leaving. I will discuss some of those things to consider in this article. So, let us take a look at some of the reasons why you would even want to consider dropping out of grad school.

Should You Drop Out of Grad School

Reasons to drop out of grad school

SO, there are quite a few reasons to go to grad school. There are quite a few reasons to stay in grad school and of course, there are a bunch of reasons to leave grad school and drop out.

1) Your goals have changed

So , you may have started your grad school tenure with the goal of becoming a professor or getting a really good job in the field that you are getting a degree in. Over the course of the 3 to 8 years of grad school, you found that what you are going to school for is not your calling. Trust me, it happens way more than you think. This usually occurs when you are doing a PhD. A PhD usually takes a very long time and that gives you plenty of time to change up what you want to do in life. This reason to leave the program is completely justifiable and you should not feel ashamed if you fall in this category.

I would suggest at least making sure you get your master’s degree while in school. You will be surprised that just holding a master’s degree will get you plenty of jobs later on and there’s always a bump in pay. This is true even if your degree doesn’t have anything to do with the career you are in. Always get the master’s lol.

Should You Drop Out of Grad School

2) You don’t get along with your adviser

So, this one can either be used to justify leaving or moving to another department. A huge component of passing grad school is working with your adviser and, at least, somewhat getting along. I know of people who had to leave their current studies because, no matter what they did, they could never please their adviser and always butt heads. Sometimes the advisers can be too much and in some cases abusive towards their students. This is a very good reason to leave them.

I would suggest, before leaving and dropping out of grad school, you search for an adviser that you will get along with. It is totally fine to switch departments or even colleges if you have to. Just not getting along with your adviser really isn’t the best reason for leaving grad school completely. If you are serious about your research, I highly suggest choosing the option of finding someone else.

3) Grad school is making you sick

Now, I am not saying that grad school is making you feel ill, well maybe, but I am primarily talking about mental health. If grad school is making you severely ill (mentally), you may need to reconsider it. I truly believe that reaching out for help should be the first thing to do. Getting professional help during grad school is probably the best thing I ever did and one of the best things you can ever do. If you want to read more about my experience with therapy in grad school, check out my blog post on it (link here).

Mental health needs to be your primary focus when taking care of yourself. The amount of isolation can really take it’s toll on your well being. If you have tried everything, and I mean everything, and grad school is just destroying your mental health, then you might need to consider the option of leaving. Grad school is not worth it in the end if you are going to be depressed. Trust me on this, your mental health is way more important than some stupid degree.

Should You Drop Out of Grad School

4) You can’t afford to live

So, you are going to be pretty poor in grad school. In some cases, you might have to eat ramen a few nights in order to get by. It happens, we hate it, unfortunately it’s part of the process. If you are having to give up on your physical health, mental health, and well being just to be able to afford rent, you may need to reconsider some things. Loans are definitely an option that I wish wasn’t one, but this might need to be taken into consideration if you are skipping meals or whole days of food just to be able to pay rent. I know people that live in very old, run down, apartments because that’s all they can afford.

Yes, you can get another job outside academia (unless you’re an international student. They can’t have second jobs.) and you can get more money. But that might push back graduation. If you get to a position where you are not able to eat or live in a safe environment, I would suggest looking for a different field to go into that pays more or just getting a master’s and leaving. Some of the very long PhDs are also some of the lousiest paying. 8 years of work at minimum wage might not be worth it, especially if you are in a field that might not have a lot of money for you coming out of college.

Should You Drop Out of Grad School

Things to consider first before dropping out of Grad School

There are many things that you need to conder before you decide whether to drop out of grad school. This is a big decision and it should not be made in one day. In fact, taking a whole semester to decide is probably best.

1) Will leaving affect future goals

Sometimes we make decisions off of emotions. I know that I do all of the time. This is a decision that should not be made because you had a bad day in grad school. We all have bad days, but we don’t want to mess up out future goals because of one bad day. When considering dropping out of grad school, consider your goals. Will they be influenced by this decision? If you have your heart set on being a profession, you know that dropping out will influence that. You can’t be one unless you get a PhD. If you want to be an engineer, dropping out may not hurt you at all and you can go on to having a fulfilling career. Take this into consideration when making this decision.

2) How will others react and be affected

So, this one is a consideration, but not a big one. If you have thought it through and you find leaving the absolute best option, don’t worry about what other’s think. You are making this decision for yourself. Unless it affects them, then don’t care. If this decision does affect them, say a spouse or a child, then you have to take them into consideration. This decision could mean that they might need to support you while you search for jobs. It could mean you having to move and that affects them just as much as you. Leaving academia is a huge decision and I know you’ll talk it over with others first.

3) Is it absolutely the right thing to do

Really, really consider this. I mean, sleep on it for weeks if you have to. Going to grad school might have been the best thing for you. Having a bad semester is not a reason to leave but having a few bad years and realizing that grad school wasn’t the best thing for you is a good reason to leave. Is leaving the right thing for you? That is for you to decide.

Final Thoughts

I hope you don’t consider leaving grad school and I hope you finish everything you started. Grad school is a hard and strenuous task, but I know you can do it. I am here to root you on and help you if you need the help. If you feel like you are in a position where you are thinking of leaving, please consider reaching out to me to talk about it. My email is benswaringen@yahoo.com. I would gladly talk about your options. The very last thing I want is for you to feel alone in this decision.

Anyway, I hope you all have had a wonderful day and week. This post was a late one for me. Usually I write in the mornings but I decided to write in the evening. I hope you found this post enlightening and I will see you in the next one. If you haven’t already, go check out my blog about the best coffee and coffee gadgets for grad school (link here). Peace!

Best Advice for PhD Students

Today, I want to discuss some helpful advice for PhD students that are starting soon. A PhD is a long journey and I am sure there are a million questions that you might have. I am here to address a few of those as well as answer any more that you might have. Instead of providing my email at the end, I’ll provide it now. So, you can email me with any questions you might have. My email is benswaringen@yahoo.com.

Ok, so you are starting a PhD and you are a bit nervous about what to expect or how well you will do. There are quite a few things that we need to cover first, so you can start your grad school journey off really well. I want to p[provide some advice that I think will help you be able to make the most out of the next 4-8 years that you are here. So, let us get started on some advice for PhD Students.

Advice for PhD Students

Advice for PhD Students it goes fast

1) 4 years will go by faster than you know

This is one of the truest things that anyone has ever told me. My doctorate will be a total of 4 years. Grad school will be a total of 6 years, which is insane to think about. These years have passed by so quickly, it hurts. When you first start you doctorate program, they’ll tell you that it’s a long 4 years. They are right, in a way. Sometimes it does feel long, but man, it can pass by really quickly. When you get to year 2, after you qualifying exams, things quickly pick up. You’ll be busier than ever and days and weeks will just fly by. Enjoy the ride.

2) You don’t need to be best friends with your adviser

I know way too many people that seem to be best friends with their advisers. It’s kind of weird and makes things awkward at times. You don’t need to be besties with your adviser. They’re your boss, pretty much, and they are here to guide you through this process of becoming a researcher. If they want to be friends then sure, be friends. Just know that you don’t have to be best friends with them. Heck, you don’t even have to like them lol. But, at least, try and get along with them. It will make your time in grad school way easier.

Advice for PhD Students write often

3) Write every day

I have written quite a few posts on how important writing is in academia. You will write quite a few papers for class, journals, and the big thesis. If you start early and write every day, you will find writing to become so much easier and natural. For me, I write blog posts in the morning which helps to get me going to write maybe a bit of my thesis or even just an email lol. I have found tat writing 1000 words is so much easier now than when I first started my doctorate. Trust me. This might be one of the best pieces of advice for PhD students that I have.

Advice for PhD Students stay active

4) Keep Active

You are going to be spending a good amount of time at a desk, writing, researching, and reading articles. Make sure to get up every so often and just get active. Sedentary lifestyles are not fun and will ruin your body. Weight gain can also occur and you don’t want that. Also, staying active and moving around will help you not fall asleep at your desk lol. You’ll feel more energetic during the day

I would suggest setting up time throughout the day to go on walks, hit the gym, or maybe do a bit of yoga in your office. Remember that a PhD is a marathon and not a sprint. You need to be able to make it to the finish line and staying active is one way to ensure that.

5) Don’t be afraid to fail

This piece of advice for PhD students is a learning experience that comes with time. At first, you are going to want to be perfect with everything. You want to make sure that all experiments go smoothly all of the time. They won’t lol. In fact, you may not be able to master doing an experiment for months. You are going to fail over and over and over. Do not be afraid of it. Seriously, failure is how you learn and become the best researcher out there. You think that ever good scientist out there just came up with all of their ideas on the first try? Heck no! They had to figure it out through failures. If they were afraid of failure, they wouldn’t have even tried and then we would have missed out on some very essential research.

Advice for PhD Students stay organized

6) Keep organized

I have a huge problem with being unorganized lol. My desk is a mess and I am missing a ton of key data that is somewhere on my computer. Don’t be like me. Stay organized and establish an organization method for files on your computer. This will help you when you go to write a paper. Searching for data that you need and can’t find is extremely frustrating. If you have a lab, keep some organization in there as well. It will help you do experiments and make sure there’s no contamination (contamination = bad results).

7) Find a way to handle stress

You are going to feel more stressed in a PhD program than ever before. You need a way to handle this stress before it causes burnout or hurts your mental health. I have written about how to manage stress (link here). These are great methods to use and I highly suggest you try some of them. Stress in grad school can lead to too many problems and make the whole 4 to 8 years a nightmare. If you can manage stress early, you will succeed in your PhD.

Advice for PhD Students question everything

8) Ask Questions, even if you think they are dumb

Have you ever gone to a class and had a question but didn’t ask because you thought it was too stupid and you should know the answer? Me too. Make sure to ask those questions. It doesn’t matter if it is a dumb question because I guarantee most of the people around you will have the same question. Also, you are going to just have a ton of questions related to what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask them. The answers might really help you overcome a problem that you have. Many months have been wasted because I was afraid to ask questions that were really easy to answer. Now, I ask ever question ever so I can move forward with my research.

9) Take care of your mental health

Seriously, do this. This piece of advice for PhD students is absolutely the most important one. You will experience some weird emotions during grad school. You will feel anxious, sad, happy, lonely, annoyed, and a bunch of other feelings. Make sure to address these and find a way to combat against negative/toxic emotions. If you let anxiety run your life during grad school then you will have a bad time. There is no shame in getting help. Many times, your program will provide therapy for free. I did therapy and I truly believe that it is the reason I am still in grad school. If you want to know my experience with therapy, check out my post about it. Also, if you are still on the fence about therapy in grad school, shoot me an email and we can talk about it.

Advice for PhD Students have fun

10) Have fun

Yes, you are in grad school to train yourself to do good research and science. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun along the way. Join a sports league, pick up cool new hobbies, and try out some new things before you become a full time employee and not a student. As I mentioned before, these years will pass quicker than a Florida rainstorm in July (for those not from Florida, the storms are fast lol). Making this time a fun time will be extremely beneficial to your mental health and I guarantee you will look back on grad school and smile. Grad school is a great experience, enjoy it.

Final Thoughts

I hope that you learned a bit from this post. This advice for PhD students is something I wish other’s would have told me when I first started. We need more grad students to blog about their time in grad school. If you have some advice that I should add to this list, please let me know in the comments.

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Having a Roommate in Grad School

So a major part of grad school mindfulness and having a good experience might come from the topic that we have today. Having a roommate in grad school can be a really good experience or you might absolutely hate it. There is an in between as well so it’s not always a love or hate thing. I have had a roommate every year that I have been in grad school and now I am currently alone because my roommate bought a house and is living there now. So, I have the experience of living with a roommate as well as living by myself.

So, should you have a roommate in grad school and what are the pros and cons of having one? This is what we are going to touch upon today because I strongly believe that this is an important topic that not many people are talking about. So, let’s first talk about the benefits of living with a roommate verses why roommates can really be bad.

Pros of Having a Roommate in Grad School

So let’s dive into some of the pros of having a roommate while in grad school, shall we?

1) Rent can be cheaper

So, this is an obvious one. If you want to save up some money, grab yourself one or two roommates and get an apartment or house together. Grad school stipends are abysmally small. Like people don’t understand that we are employees getting paid below the poverty line. One way to cut back on those costs of living is with a roommate

2) You get to come home to someone actually being there

So, if you are like me, you spend a ton of time alone in an office and lab. I really don’t get to interact with many people except my adviser and the others who share my office. Coming home to someone other than them can really help with your mental state. It was always nice to know someone else was around, especially on those days where you feel a bit lonely.

3) You might make a life long friend.

Some of my old roommates have become some of my closest friends. I mean, if we can get along living together, we can really get through anything. Having a roommate makes you interact with someone and get to know them on a more personal level. You understand their habits and how they are outside of academia or wherever. Sometimes, you find that you are very similar to your roommate and you will develop a really close relationship with them.

Cons of Having a Roommate in Grad School

So, yes, there are cons to having roommates in grad school. I have been fortunate to have some truly amazing roommates. I know people who have had roommates from hell, so be grateful if you don’t get one lol.

1) You might not get along with them

Hey, this happens. Everyone is different and you might not get along with your roommate at all. Honestly, you won’t know unless you at least try. Sometimes, not getting along with them can cause some stress that might affect your research. This can lead to some mental health issues and those are not good. If you are going to have a roommate, I would suggest either getting someone you know you’ll get along with or search around for people that would be a good fit. Sometimes, you are just tossing a coin and seeing what you get. Hopefully you get a good outcome.

2) They might eat your food

Ok, I haven’t had this problem, but I know many individuals who have had this problem. Roommates might eat the food that you bought. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t make that much money. Food is a necessity and sometimes, unfortunately, a luxury :(. Having a roommate that deprives us the happiness that is food can be disheartening. If you are having trouble with this particular dilemma, talk to your roommate and let them know it’s not ok for that to happen.

messy grad school roommates

3) They can be messy

So, I have had this problem. I am fairly clean. Disorganized, yes, dirty, absolutely not. I have had situations where my roommates have left dishes in the sink for weeks at a time. Some roommates would leave food lying around and other’s were just extremely messy. I am OK with messy, but dirty is where things get complicated. You might be in a situation where a roommate is messy and possibly a slob. This can be quite a bad situation especially if you start getting bugs because of them. In cases like this, you have to voice your concern or they won’t learn.

Next Up: Living Alone!

So, I have had a few instances of living alone in both undergrad as well as grad school. As I mentioned earlier, my current roommate has pretty much moved out and I am all alone. Well, I have Mr. Sirius to keep me company, but I don’t have a human roommate anymore. There certainly are a few pros as well as cons of living alone, that I have noticed. I would like to share with you exactly those.

Being alone in grad school

Pros of Living alone in Grad School

So let’s first talk about the pros of not having a roommate in grad school. There are quite a few but I will keep it short so you don’t fall asleep.

1) You don’t have to deal with all of the cons about having a roommate that I talked about.

You won’t have someone eating your food. No body is going to be messy, except you. And, you don’t have to worry about getting along with anyone because no one is there. These are some really good things to consider.

2) You are able to decorate your place the way you want to

I think this is a pro to living alone. You can make your place the way you want it to be. My girlfriend does it best. She has been living alone for quite some time and her place is filled with really cool things that show the type of individual she is. Living alone lets you make your home more “you”.

3) You don’t have to worry about finding a roommate

So, this is specifically for those with a joint lease. In college, you will have many people come and go while you slog through your graduate degree. Some of those people might be roommates. If you have a lease that everyone signs, when they leave, you have to replace them so you can pay rent. I lived in a house where the rent would be 1800 a month if I didn’t have a roommate. That is the equivalent of my monthly earnings. Living alone, in an affordable place, allows you to not have to worry about finding roommates to replace yours.

Cons of not having a roommate in Grad School

Of course, with every pro, there is a con. So let us dive into what some cons are of living alone while in grad school.

not having a roommate in grad school is sad and lonely

1) You’re alone

I find this one hard to face, honestly. I am alone most of the day and I don’t want to really be alone when I get home. Yes, I have Sirius. But, I would love to be able to talk to someone that can actually talk back and not meow for treats lol. Plus, if something goes wrong or if I lock my keys inside, there’s no one to immediately help me. Being alone, especially in grad school, can really put a damper on your mental health as well. Something to be very mindful of.

roommate in grad school expensive

2) Rent is more expensive

Ok, by this time, you’re probably sick of hearing me say that we are poor. You get it, grad students are poor. Well, because we are poor, it is harder on us to live alone because rent is always more expensive without a roommate. I think the average rent for a studio in Gainesville is about 1100 dollars. Rent has gone nuts in the past 5 years. A studio was about 650 dollars in 2017. Crazy!!! Anyway, if you have the money, sure get a studio. For the vast majority of us, living alone is going to be a struggle, financially.

3) Lastly, no one is there to eat the food I make.

You might be curious with this one. Often, I make cakes and desserts but I have no one to share them with. This often means that I eat a whole cake by myself or a dozen cookies by myself. I do bring them in to work, but I only share my office with one other person and she is often not there. This is a serious dilemma that I am in lol. Many people may laugh at this, but it can be a hardship in grad school. Also, I like to create dishes from recipes that I have found and need other’s opinions. Sirius doesn’t like my food, so he’s not really helpful lol. It’s definitely a con to living alone.

Deciding to have a roommate in grad school or not

It is a big decision when you start grad school to live with others or not. In my opinion, I think having a roommate is a win. Living alone, if you are that kind of person, is good. But, having someone to come home to and help you out is something I really look forward to. If you are trying to decide which to choose, I would suggest giving it a year of living with someone else to feel if it is right for you. If you don’t get along and hate having roommates then live alone the next year. At least you tried and determined whether a roommate was good or bad.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this post to be good. Hopefully you are still awake after reading it lol. Anyway, let me know what you think about having a roommate in grad school or living alone. Wat are your preferences? Do you agree with this article or no?

Also, if you have any questions or concerns about grad school, shoot me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. Also, if you haven’t read it already, go check out my post about starting a wood carving hobby. Link Here. Until next time, peace.