Scared to do Grad School

Quick update on life before I get into the topic of being scare to go to grad school. I am currently in the process of writing 3, yes 3, publishable papers and it has been terrible. So, I will try and write a blog post about this in the next few days after I finish some other work. I wanted to get in a quick, maybe not quick, we will see, blog post today about being scared to go or start grad school. I know how daunting it is and I just want to give some pointers on how to start, what to do when you first get here, and just some other helpful advice. So let’s get into it, shall we?

scared to go to grad school

Scared to apply for grad school

Applying to grad school is a scary experience. Depending on what you are doing, you may find yourself emailing professors for references, taking the GMAT or GRE, trying to get enough money to pay for application fees, and various other things. Just thinking about it makes me nervous and I haven’t done something like this is 4 years. It can be a hectic and scary process. I think the scariest portion is getting letters of recommendation. Something about reaching out to professors or work people gives me crazy anxiety. It’s completely normal to feel this way though.

Letters of Recommendation

The best thing you can do is just face your fear. The worst possible thing that anyone can do when asking for a letter of recommendation is say “no”. I have had this happen to me, and it’s really not that bad. Here is a secret though. Professors actually, sort of, like writing letters of recommendation. They don’t necessarily like the writing portion but they are happy to do so because the student looks at them as an important person that is influential. Talk about a confidence booster. Most professors will be happy to write a letter of recommendation for you if you ask.

Stupid Standardized Tests

Another scary part of the application process is just taking those stupid exams to get in. I was lucky and didn’t really need to take exams to get into grad school as I had already passed my Fundamentals of Engineering exam to become certified as an engineer. This helped me bypass the GRE and GMAT exams. I did take the GRE just in case, though it was not required. Taking these exams can be stressful. The best thing you can do is just study, take the exam, and accept the score. You may do way better than you think. I know of many schools that are doing away with these exams as well so you may not even have to take them to get in.

What Other Things about applying scares you?

Instead of asking this at the very end, I’ll ask it now. What other things about grad school scares you when it comes to applying? Let me know in the comments section or you can email me and let me know if you want to remain anonymous. My email is benswaringen@yahoo.com.

Scared of grad school

Scared of starting grad school

Grad school is a whole different experinece. You are going to be placed in a room with a ton of very intelligent people, that might intimidate you. Trust me when I say this, you belong here! If you got in to grad school then you definitely belong in grad school. Do not think otherwise. There is this thing called imposter syndrome that will creep up on you. It will make you think that you don’t belong or are not good enough. Trust me, you are good enough. If you want to read more about imposter syndrome, go check out my post about it (link here).

You are going to take some difficult classes. That is what grad school is all about, becoming an expert. So the classes that you do take will be fairly difficult because they go into so much detail about one or two different topics. Is it doable? Absolutely. In fact, I guarantee that you’ll do very well in these classes. Grad school is not out to fail you, like many undergrad courses were. No, you are here to learn without focusing too much on the grades. In fact, if you focus solely on the grades, you’ll be missing out on a lot. Focus mainly on the material and learning about the subjects. If you focus on just getting an A, you may miss on learning the concepts in the class.

Everyone is Scared

There is not one person that isn’t scared to start grad school. You are not alone in your feelings. I was terrified to start my master’s and even more terrified to start my doctorate. Yes, me, the amazing Ben, was terrified to start school. Just know that you are not alone. I have spoken with quite a few grad students in my day and they have all said how nerve wracking it was to start school. They all thought they were alone in their feelings too.

Many PhD students that have started also feel this way. Luckily for them, I am here to help out since I have been through everything that they have. There are very similar concerns with all of them, mostly they think they don’t belong. This is the biggest concern that many people have when starting. They get into this position where they are required to make a contribution to knowledge and they don’t think they can do it. I am here today to tell you, yes. you can do it, and you will do it. But it will be tough.

It’s ok to be scared of grad school

I am not here to tell you to not be scared. Being scared is a natural response to the unknown. The best way to get over it is to just do it. It’s pretty much exposure therapy. You just need to try it out. Don’t let a little bit of intimidation cause you to not go for this. Many people dream about this opportunity. So don’t let some stupid false ideas keep you away from fulfilling this goal of yours. I promise you that it’s worth trying.

Final Thoughts

I wanted to write a bit today for those thinking about going to grad school but are a bit nervous. It’s ok to be a bit scared to start grad school. I am here to tell you that you are going to do just fine and everything will work out. If you are starting grad school and want to know more, send me an email and I will gladly answer any question you have. Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week and I will catch you in the next one. Peace!

Feeling Dumb in Grad School

Hello to all of my favorite people. It has been a long time since I have written a post and i promise that won’t be the case here on out. I have been trying to finish up my thesis writing and have hit a bit of a road block that has now allowed me to focus on other things, rather than just writing. I will update everyone probably tomorrow about what is going on. Anyway, todays topic is about feeling dumb in grad school and how grad school will always make you feel dumb. Spoilers, it is not a bad thing and you should be ok with feeling dumb.

feeling dumb in grad school

Why you feel dumb in grad school

Let us start off with why we feel so dumb in grad school. The short answer is, because we are learning stuff that we are not familiar with. It is as simple as that. You are going to learn about subjects that you didn’t even know existed. On top of that, you are going to go into detail on those topics. Because of this, you you will be hit with a ton of new information, all at once, which can be extremely overwhelming.

feeling dumb in grad school is like playing sports

Imaging trying to learn how to play a sport and you are thrown into a professional league right away. This is very similar. You may have a background in something that is completely different than what you are going to learn in grad school. It’s like being good at baseball and being forced to play something like competitive pool. You may have the skills to be good at one thing, but you need to start from the bottom to be good at the next.

There are very intelligent people

On top of the new and difficult concepts that you will be learning, you also will feel dumb because you are around people that have been doing this for years, sometimes decades. You’ll probably experience our good friend “imposter syndrome” quite often. I highly suggest reading about that on my website (Link HERE). This is one of the major challenges that people will face, and it will make them feel so stupid. I promise you that it is part of the process and you won’t feel so dumb in grad school after a while.

Feeling dumb in grad school is good

So, now that you probably feel bad that you are in a program that makes you feel dumb, I’m sorry if I made you feel this way, we can get into why feeling dumb is great. And by great, I mean important. See, feeling dumb means that you are in a situation that you are not an expert in or know very little in. Grad school is all about this. What is the main reason that one goes to grad school? To learn how to do research, be a professional, and do the hard stuff. Each one requires doing work that not many people have ever done. You might get it wrong, but you get good at it and become a master. Because you work on things that make you feel dumb, you become the smartest in that topic. You can explore it all you want.

Dumb in research

For those that are doing research, feeling dumb should be the best possible feeling because you can learn something that no one has ever done. Not knowing about a subject is awesome because you now can learn about it and become an expert in that subject if you want to. I constantly feel dumb and that’s were my curiosity in grad school comes from. Yes, I look at papers all day and feel dumb because I can’t understand 90% of what is being presented, but that piques my curiosity and I end up looking into that subject. That’s where you learn a ton. Feeling dumb about something usually leads to the greatest discoveries.

Also, research is all about finding answers or potential answers to things. You do the research and the experiments to find out answers and sometimes those answers don’t make any sense, but at least it is out there. I constantly get data that really tests my knowledge and sometimes it makes me feel really dumb. But that’s good because it will give you motivation to find out what is going on. That could lead to some ground breaking knowledge that changes the world. I bet Nobel prize winners probably felt pretty dumb about their research.

feeling dumb in grad school

How to feel less dumb or cope with the feeling

Feeling dumb is great for a bit. Over time, it might get a little irritating, especially if you aren’t really used to it. There are a few ways in which you can feel less dumb. But ultimately, accepting that you don’t know everything is the best thing to do. So let us start with that, acceptance.

Acceptance

Ok, so this is probably the best way that I found to overcome the awkwardness of feeling dumb, and that is, just accepting that i know nothing. People want to be all-knowing, and I find that to be exhausting. Most people don’t know a lot of stuff. They may be an expert in their own field, but might not know a thing about anything else. Accepting that you don’t know everything is a great way to just get over the feeling of being dumb, or at least reduce it. Instead of getting frustrated by not knowing a lot, especially when talking to something that knows a lot about another subject, spend that time absorbing what they are saying. Use it as a learning experience. So, overall, accept that you don’t know that much but try and learn as much as you can and don’t be one of those people that thinks they know everything, I despise those people.

Stay away from difficult subjects

You can always go back to your comfort zone where you know everything about the subjects you like. This is fine but the feeling of being dumb may never go away. I know people that hide in this little bubble and try and steer the subject to that so they can sound like a genius. I highly recommend not doing this.

Compassionate pep talk

I am going to tell you a secret. You are not dumb, I promise. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you this to help out. Sometime, you need to tell yourself this. In the morning, look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are smart, kind, funny, beautiful, and every other adjective there is to describe the amazing person you are. In fact, go do that right now. For real, go. I’ll wait………………………Ok, you’re back? How do you feel now? Hopefully good. Sometimes you just need a good pep talk.

Final Thoughts

If you want some more ways to feel less dumb in grad school, go check out this post by the Dive Thru (link here). You know and I know that you are a smart person. Feeling dumb is part of the grad school experience. It’s a hard one to deal with, but you will overcome the feeling. Just remember to be kind, and keep looking forward. You’ve got this.

Caffeine Use in grad School

Today is a productive day, and it’s only 10 am. Yes, I have been up, focusing on getting work done, and having the capabilities of being able to finish everything because of the wonderous effects of caffeine. Unfortunately, I am at a place in my doctorate program where I heavily relying on caffeine to get me just to 12 pm without falling asleep. It’s a blessing and a curse. So today, I want to discuss caffeine use in grad school. Kind of a new and weird concept. But, I think, it’s a very important topic. Let’s get into it.

coffee in grad school

How much is too much caffeine in grad school

I was reading a blog post about a grad student that has never had a caffeinated drink in his life. Here’s the article if you are curious. Of course, this is quite the anomaly in grad school. Many people are extremely dependent on caffein usage. I am one of those people, unfortunately. See, I made the mistake of drinking caffeine, in high amounts, as an undergrad. Because of this, I became extremely dependent on caffein consumption, just to get through the day. But as an engineering student, I really needed the extra boost or I wouldn’t have done as well as I did.

I hit the limits of caffeine consumption that one can get to. As I have written before, I am an avid gymgoer. My caffeine consumption came from preworkout to get me through those crazy workouts before class. The more I took, the more I needed just to get by. There were days where I would hit about 1g of caffeine. On average, a cup of coffee is about 100 mg. So I was consuming 10X that amount a day. The problem with this is not just the heart palpitations or the anxiety, it’s getting used to that amount and relying on that or else you get the worst headache of your life.

Why we drink so much caffeine in grad school

We all know that grad school is tough. It’s mentally and sometimes physically demanding and the hours are long. People don’t quite understand this sometimes and they don’t really understand the struggles that grad school brings. Caffeine us in grad school is high because we need it to get stuff done. Grad school does not have a schedule and you will have quite a few nights in the lab and have to wake early for class. Many times, I will come in to my lab at 6 or 7 am and not leave until 11 pm, then have to come right back in at 7 to finish an experiment. This is one of the reasons grad students love caffeine so much and rely on it.

Another reason why grad student rely on caffeine is because it brings clarity and innovation. Imagine, for a moment, you get results back from an experiment that you did. You are looking at all of the data and have to come up with a reasoning of why this is happening. What fundamental scientific principles are at play and do these results even make sense. Drink a cup of caffeine right before and you may just have a few “aha” moments. Most of my great ideas have come from either long walks around campus or moments of intense caffeination.

Caffeine use in grad school

Is caffeine good while in grad school?

I think the daily cup of coffee is actually quite good for grad students. It helps with productivity, learning, and just puts people in a better mood. I think when you become dependent on caffeine is when things get a little shaky. If you are able to limit yourself to less than 300 mg a day, I think that is a good amount for peak optimization of grad school potential. Any more than this and you may start feeling the negative effects of caffeine (headache, falling asleep at 1 pm, crankiness).

I think caffeine is a great thing in grad school. It has helped me significantly and given me the motivation to continue the long tasks that I need to do to finish my program. Having too much is bad though. Quite like grad school, you need to do an experiment and find out where you are most productive and what level of caffeine you need to hit this spot. If you have too much, you’ll be too jittery to do anything, too little and you’ll fall asleep at your desk.

What to drink in grad school

Coffee is the way to go. Sometimes I drink energy drinks, but those tend to make me extremely jittery and anxious. Both are very bad in grad school. Coffee has been my go to ever since I started. I try and limit the amount to 2 cups a day but often find me making a third cup. If you want to read more about coffee in grad school, go check out my blog posts about it. You can find one here and here.

Try and stay away from caffeine pills or anything similar. These can lead to overconsumption of caffeine which can cause some problems. I say, if you want caffeine, stick with tea or coffee. Some people absolutely hate the taste of coffee. In that case, tea is the way to go. You can find a billion different flavors of tea with various amounts of caffeine.

Final Thoughts

I want to thank coffee for the wonderful 4 years in grad school and the amount of motivation it has given me. It really is a wonderful thing, caffeine is. I always look forward to my cup of iced coffee in the morning and definitely look forward to my second and third cups. Let me know in the comments what your favorite form of caffeine is? Are you a coffee, tea, energy drink type of person? Let me know.

Now comes everyone’s favorite segment, grad school memes!!!! Today I want to give you two. I know I haven’t posted in a while, so I want to make it up to you guys and gals. Enjoy!

grad school memes
Chan Narula
Grad school meme
David Hontz

A Year of Blogging in Grad School

A few weeks ago (like 2 weeks ago), I was informed that I have been blogging for a year now. To be completely honest, I thought I was blogging for much longer than that, but no, it has been a year. I started this journey to help me cope with the struggles of grad school as well as help those that are in the same boat. I was successful in this endeavor. Blogging has been one of the most rewarding hobbies that I have taken up. So, today, I want to share some things that I have learned while blogging in grad school for a year.

What I have learned blogging in grad school

There are a ton of things that I have learned in the stretch of a year. Today, I want to share few of those and encourage you to start your blogging journey. If you are a grad student, I highly suggest starting a blog early. Not only is it a great stress reliever, but also a wonderful way to document your journey. So, let’s go over the things I’ve learned while blogging in grad school.

blogging in grad school

1) People want you to succeed

I think the coolest thing about blogging is having people from all around the world, reading your blog. People from Africa, Europe, North America, Asia, and South America have all read my blogs and that’s super cool. I have had individuals reach out to me from various countries asking me questions about grad school. I have also had many people just comment on my posts and send the nicest messages. Strangers, from all over, read my blog and are so encouraging and supportive. Grad school hasn’t been the easiest time, but it has been so much better due to the support from my readers.

2) Writing things out can lead to finding the answers or figuring stuff out

Many of my problems have been addressed in my blogs. Mental health, education related problems, making friends, etc. have all been covered. I have struggled with all of these things but have found that writing about them has given me a different perspective. Often times, I figure out what my problem is and how to address it. Writing about the struggles of life has allowed my brain to solve these problems and made things way easier for me.

blogging in grad school for mental health

3) Blogging in grad school has made me more mentally prepared

Sometimes I go back and read about the struggles that I have come across while in grad school. I can also read about how I have tackled those problems. I have seen myself grow and come out of a pretty dark mental state thanks to blogging. It is really cool being able to go through my blog posts and see how my mental state has gone from bad to wayyyyyy better. This was a great way to address my problems, gain support from the community, and overcome the hardships that I have faced.

4) My writing can always improve

Blogging each day (until I had to start my thesis) has definitely helped with my writing. I find writing my thesis to be easier and more enjoyable now because I can actually write something that makes sense. If you write each day, or at least a few times a week, you definitely improve with your writing skills. This is 100% true when you are in grad school. This is why I encourage grad students to take up a blog.

grad school blogging

5) I am not alone

Grad school will make you feel extremely lonely at times. In fact, I have written about feeling alone in grad school and how to overcome it (link here). Blogging in grad school has made me realize that I am not alone in my problems and plenty of individuals have the same problems. There are so many people out there that are facing what I am facing and the blogging community has helped me find those people. We have created a community that has been supportive and now I feel less alone. Without blogging, I may not have found these individuals.

6) Writing can be fun

I have had such a wonderful time writing for you guys this past year. Unfortunately, the grad school blogs will be coming to an end soonish because I am graduating in a few months. I have had such a fun time writing and learning what works and what doesn’t. It has been so much fun seeing my audience grow and having people write back to me. I will continue to blog, just on another topic. But I am glad my first blog was on the topic of grad school. It was definitely fun.

Writing used to be such a headache for me. English was my worst subject in school because of the writing. I just didn’t have it in me to be good at it. Now, I love writing and expressing myself in words. I have grown to really enjoy the process of writing articles and I know I will continue.

Final Thoughts.

Blogging in grad school has been such an enjoyable experience and I am so glad that i did it. Not only did it help with my writing, it helped with my mental state. If you are a grad student and want to start a blog, I encourage you to do so. If you have any questions, you can always email me at benswaringen@yahoo.com. I can give some helpful tips on getting started as well as answer any questions that you may have. Heck, just send me an email to say hello. I love receiving emails from my readers.

Let’s get into what you have all been waiting for, grad school memes!!!!! Here’s todays meme. Enjoy!

grad school meme
by Gina Arias

The Challenges of Grad School No One Talks About

Today is going to be a bit of a sad post. Not because I want it to be, but because I am going to cover some topics that students face that aren’t really fun. I want to talk about a few challenges of grad school that we all experience that are just a bit hard to del with. Yes, the work load is a lot. Your adviser can be super mean. But these are all things that you expect to deal with. Today, I want to talk about a few things that people just don’t want to talk about that you’ll deal with in grad school, as well as undergrad.

Challenges of grad school : getting older

You will get older

I wrote a post about how the freshman each year seem younger and younger. It’s currently summer B semester which means the freshman are here. They do look like they are 12, even though most of them are 18-19. It really makes you feel old, especially in grad school. Undergrad was 4 to 5 years of your life. You went through it and made it to grad school. You are probably much older than the undergrads which kind of makes things a bit sad. I, unintentionally, remind myself that I am 10 years older than the incoming freshman. By unintentionally, I mean that it literally just pops in my head when seeing someone with a “UF 26” shirt walk by. This is just one of the challenges of grad school that you will face, almost immediately.

Challenges of grad school

Your friends will come and go

One of the biggest challenges of grad school, and well life, is seeing friends come and go. In grad school, you are going to meet quite a few people and make friends with a few as well. Usually, you’ll have a smaller group of friends, but they are or will turn out to be very close. Seeing them graduate and moving on with their lives is a very difficult thing that you will experience. I have had many friends come and go throughout my time in grad school. It’s pretty hard to get used to this. You always think they will be there until they aren’t.

Challenges of grad school

Time will pass quickly and slowly at the same time

Let me explain this one. One strange phenomena that occurs in grad school, and life, is time tends to speed up. The years get really short but the days seem to get much longer. When in grad school, weeks will pass by in the blink of an eye and it will seem like you got nothing done. This can be good because you will think to yourself “nice, I am closer to graduation”. You’re not lol Graduation is always so far off and seems to just get pushed back even further each year. Because of this, grad school will seem extremely long even though it goes by quickly. It’s a weird thing that happens and definitely is a challenge in grad school.

Challenges of grad school

You won’t feel accomplished after big milestones

When you were young, and very big milestones came up, you probably felt very proud and accomplished when finishing. Things like graduating, passing a class, actually waking up after your 21st birthday, stuff like that. There was this sense of completion. That hardly exists in grad school. There are a few huge milestones that will leave you feeling empty. These include your qualifying exam and even your defense. This isn’t the case for everyone though. Many people will have that feeling of completion, but many of us won’t.

You’ll think “what’s next?” You have spent so much time on a project to finish and just not know what to do in life. This is completely normal and many people have this feeling. It doesn’t make it any easier knowing that you’re not alone though. I find this to be a challenge of grad school because it really makes you wonder if all of this is worth it. It plays with your emotions.

People will never be as excited about something as you are

Everything that you do in grad school is for yourself. It is quite the personal experience, not going to lie. If something “ground breaking” happens such as you find out some weird scientific principle not found or you successfully get a paper published, you’ll most likely be the only one that is excited. People won’t show your level of excitements because they aren’t going through the process of obtaining a graduate degree like you. Even your friends won’t be as excited, even if they are a graduate student. This can be difficult because you want to celebrate and you also want someone there to celebrate with. People will celebrate but won’t understand really why.

Challenges of grad school

You will spend a ton of time alone

I do not mean that you will physically be alone. If you are in a lab, there’s probably other people sharing that lab with you. You may also have lab mates that you see each day. No, the loneliness I talk about is being alone in your thoughts. Grad school, as I mentioned early, is a personal experience. he problems you have are your own. This is especially true when you get to the PhD level. You will have many problems that no one has the answers to and you are all alone trying to figure it out. When in undergrad or a master’s, you have classes. Everyone has the same problems. When in a PhD or research position, the problems you face don’t have solutions in the back of the book.

You will also be alone in your general thoughts. The hardships you face will usually only be faced by other grad students. It is hard to talk to people that didn’t go to grad school about your problems. You really just have to talk with other grad students. This can be quite a challenge. I know that the problems that I face, I only have 1 or 2 people to talk to. Everyone else has never experienced those problems before. If this is the case, I highly suggest seeing a therapist. If you are alone or feel alone, please reach out to a therapist. It was the best thing I ever did.

Challenges of grad school : feeling alone

You will face mental health problems

We all struggle with something. That is for sure. On of the biggest challenges of grad school is your mental health and how it will be pushed to the limits. You will experience so many emotions, and might not be able to handle that. I truly wish that colleges did more to help students cope. Yes, it is hard, but sometimes there are things that the college can do to help individuals. Offering free therapy is one. Paying a living salary is another. Grad school should be a time where you learn but not one where you are so stressed that you literally lose years off your life. It’s tough when some professors think “well I had it tough and therefore my student should have it tough too” That mentality is toxic and terrible for mental health. Be better.

Final Thoughts

I have to apologize to you all about this post. It is pretty sad and depressing but it is something that people need to know about. Next post will be happier, I promise. If you are reading this and thinking about grad school, please do not be discouraged. One of the best things in my life was going to grad school and it opened up so many doors for me. My life is not more fulfilling and there is quite a ton of purpose. I am eternally grateful of my decision.

To end this very depressing post, I’ll share a grad school meme.

grad school meme

Am I Working Hard Enough in Grad School?

One of the worst feelings is coming home at the end of the day and feeling as if you didn’t do enough that day. Grad school is notorious for making you feel like you haven’t done enough work for the day. Well, I am here today to tell you that you have done enough work and I want to let you in on a few secrets that I learned that will help you feel more productive. I want you to also know that you are not alone in these feelings. I guarantee that every grad student feels like they could have done more. Some grad students don’t stop working and burn out. It is part of the process of getting a grad degree, but I can hopefully help make it easier. So, if you are asking the question “am I working hard enough in grad school?” then this is the post for you.

Am I Working Hard Enough in Grad School

Why we think we aren’t working hard enough in the first place.

So, grad school is a hard thing to accomplish because the work load can be very little, or extremely overwhelming all at once. You often have weeks where you have like 3 to 4 hours, tops, of work. The following week can be 70 hours of non-stop chaos. It’s just how things are and I don’t make the rules. One of the reason people ask themselves if they work hard enough in grad school is because there can be a ton of time where you aren’t doing work. You might be bored for quite some time.

Another reason that people may be thinking they don’t work hard enough is because they are comparing themselves to the highlights of other students. One of the most toxic things you can do in grad school is compare yourself to other students in your department or other departments. Sure, there may be someone that has 3 first-authored publications, but that does not mean you aren’t working just as hard as they are. I know many individuals that compare themselves to me. Yes, I work fairly hard but I also make sure I make time to have a life. These individuals say that I am always working and it makes them upset because they aren’t working as hard. I am here to tell you that you work just as hard, if not harder. You may see only the highlights that the person has. Also, they might be just looking busy to keep themselves preoccupied. It happens.

More factors

These individuals are definitely asking the same question as you, “Am I working hard enough in grad school?”. I know for a fact that every student asks this question regardless of how much they get done. A main factor is the workload that their adviser places on them as well. There are students that get overwhelmed with work, like way too much work, and can’t keep up. Of course they are going to think that they aren’t working hard enough, because they aren’t able to keep up. Then, there are people who don’t have as much work and see someone else working hard. They’ll probably ask themself if they are working hard enough. The best way to really determine if you are doing enough is to just ask your adviser. I promise you that if they haven’t called you out for being a slacker, then you are doing enough work.

Really, Am I working hard enough in grad school

How to get rid of the terrible feeling?

So, after you asked yourself “am I working hard enough in grad school?” you may have this feeling like you need to work harder? Is this true? It is for me because I always feel like I could be doing more. I could be writing more. Heck, I could be spending more time in the lab. Regardless of what you do, you’ll probably feel like you need to constantly be working. There is a bit of anxiety that might show up as well. So Ben, how do I get rid of this feeling? Well, I have a couple of ways that might work. I hope one or more work better with you and you try it out. There are probably plenty more methods to try, but I want to share the ones that have really helped me.

Walk it out

Technically, just get a bit active. Sometimes I feel this anxiety because I need to get all of this work done and theres not enough time to get it done. This is your brain lying to you. In fact, the reason you are getting so anxious is because you created a todo list that is unacheiveable bt are convinced that you can achieve it. In these cases, get active. Go on a walk, step away from work, and go do some form of cardio. I know that you may think this is dumb because you can get more done if you just keep working. That can be true but you probably won’t. Your head is not in the right place. Going for a walk may clear up you mind and actually make things a bit easier. You may realize how much work you have done and you may even realize that you are ahead of schedule. I find that when I feel like I am not doing enough work, a quick cardio session is what gets me motivate to do work. It also makes me feel more refreshed. So, next time you feel like you aren’t doing enough work, take a break. Go on a walk and listen to some music. It may just be the best thing for you.

working a bit more in grad school

Do a tiny bit of extra work

I always ask myself at the end of the day if I am working hard enough in grad school. It’s never during the middle of the day or in the morning. No, it’s always at the end of the day. If you are really feeling bad, designate an hour to just doing something that will be helpful towards your research. If you need to write a paragraph, write a paragraph. Some times, if I really feel like I didn’t work hard enough that day, I’ll find a research paper and read it before going to bed. Just a small task can really help you feel so much better. You do not have to commit like 3 hours after coming home to work. No, just designate an hour doing something constructive. Maybe just write down what to do for the next day or edit some of your manuscript that you’ve been putting off for a year lol. Anything is better than nothing and It will help significantly. I promise you that.

Create a To-do list each night and try and stick to it

This may take a bit of time to fully master. You may be asking “why do I need to master this?” Well, you don’t want to put so much on there that it overwhelms you and you don’t want to put too little that you get behind on work. You want enough on the list where it is doable, yet not overwhelming. I aim for 2 large things and 2 smaller tasks. Big tasks can be something like writing a page or two of my dissertation or get an experiment done. Small tasks can be something like email my adviser and ask a question or even something as little as drink coffee. The small tasks are going to make you really feel like you are getting a ton of work done. So, if you can, increase small attainable tasks and you’ll feel like your day is extremely productive.

seek help in grad school

If it get’s to be too much, seek professional help

Feeling like you aren’t doing enough is normal, but overwhelming yourself to the point of burnout is not. Grad school will push you to these limits and it is so important that you don’t let it get to that point. If you are working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and feel the need to work more, then you may need to see a therapist. I have a ton of posts about seeing a therapist, and you can read about them here. Therapist will help to find what the cause of this feeling is. Maybe it’s something deeper than just feeling like you are behind. Who knows. If you are working a ton, on the brink of burnout, and feeling hopeless, therapy is a must. Many colleges offer some form of service to help students. My school offered TalkSpace. I highly suggest just seeing a therapist regardless of your feelings. They will help give you the tools to tackle any and all of these feelings that you have. Therapy will help you become a better student by providing you the mental health required to be productive. I think this was the best way to combat that feeling of being behind in my work. It’s 100% worth it.

Final Thought

When you ask yourself, “am I working hard enough in grad school?” I want you to go to a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say “Yes I Am!!!” You are doing a fantastic job and are good enough to get that degree. You have been working so hard for so long. Yes, there are people that may work harder, but that’s them. There will always be people that work harder. It doesn’t mean that they are better than you. Compare yourself to yourself and no one else. Always aim to be the best version of yourself and see yourself grow. You are amazing.

So, we have come to the end of another amazing blog post lol. Time to add a grad school meme to the post because you deserved it! I hope you enjoyed this post and I will see you in the next one. Peace.

Rachel Carey

What is Grad School Like

I don’t believe that I have dealt with this particular topic. I always dance around what grad school is like, but never quite make blog posts about it. So, today, that’s what I am going to do. I want to go over what grad school is like and how to prepare for it. I have been in grad school for 5 years now (dang!) so I have a god idea on what to expect during this time.

Now, if you are new to grad school or are thinking about applying and want to know more, I suggest taking a good look at my website (link here). Technically you are on my website now, but that link is for easy access. Take a look at all of the posts and I am sure you will find something related to your question. That will help to give you some idea of what to expect when you start your grad school life chapter.

What grad school is like

Let’s Get into What Grad School is Like

So, grad school is going to be a bit different than your undergrad years. At first, you will be in a similar situation as you were in undergrad, but that will eventually change. Each grad program is a bit different, though. You will not be doing the same things as an MBA student as you would if you were getting your PhD. Law students and Medical students do different things than someone getting a master’s in literature. Each program is designed a certain way to make sure that the graduates are prepared for careers in that field. So, like many on the internet will say, grad school is an apprenticeship.

What a master's degree is like

What are Master’s Programs Like?

A master’s program can be a harder and more challenging extension of your undergrad studies or it can be completely different. Depending on the path you take, you might just be taking classes for 2 years, or you might be doing research. If it’s the former, then a master’s program will just be like an undergrad degree. You may even find it easier than undergrad since you’ll be taking fewer classes. The work load will be tough, but nothing crazy. If you go research, it will be more apprenticeship than anything. you’ll have class work, but you will also be learning research skills on top of this.

It is also going to go by extremely quickly. Some people think that grad school will be very similar to undergrad and go by relatively quickly, but no, it goes by even faster. I found that the two years of my master’s almost seemed like 2 semesters worth of school. I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that I actually got into a master’s program and then it was over.

Luckily, I continued on to my PhD, so I got to stay on a bit longer. Trust me when I say it goes by fast. You will be plenty busy and have a ton of things that you are taking on all at once. If you are in a not-so-difficult master’s program, you’ll likely take on extra work, such as a part-time job, or you might just go have fun every day. Either way, you’re going to be busy regardless of how much work you have.

what a PhD is like

What a PhD is Like?

This one is my specialty. Ok, well only a PhD in Environmental Engineering, but from what I am told, many PhD programs are very similar. I’ll spend a bit longer going over what a PhD is like, since I have plenty of experience with this one. So, first off, a PhD is not an extension of undergrad. In fact, it is completely different than all of your previous studies. A PhD in an apprenticeship. You are learning to do research. You are not just getting “smarter” or “more educated”. In fact, you are learning how dumb you really are and how difficult/complicated life and research is lol.

It’s different

People often think that doing a PhD is just staying in school, taking exams, learning more about subjects, then doing a silly little project. In fact, a PhD is a journey where you learn how to do research, develop ideas, learn skills, and understand (and be ok with) that life is much more complicated than what our books have told us. No, it’s not just for smart people. In fact a PhD is for anyone that truly wants to learn a ton about one particular subject. I would say being smart won’t get you a PhD. It can help to some extent, but it won’t get you to the end. No, being tenacious will get you to the end.

It’s research

Anyway, a PhD is learning research skills, how to do independent research, and how to truly distinguish BS. It is definitely different than a masters because you will probably spend most of your day, buy yourself, reading about things that might be a bit difficult to understand. You will be by yourself a ton, both physically and mentally. Then mentally part is the most challenging to be honest.

You’ll be burnt out a bit and frustrated mot of the time. But, you keep coming back because you love the work you do. You start to crave the “failures” and start to see the world differently. A PhD changes you significantly. And trust me when I say this, it truly isn’t for everyone. I found it fitting for myself and will actually miss it a ton when I graduate. But, if you asked me if I would do it over again, I’d laugh, maybe cry a bit, and walk away.

What an MBA is like

What an MBA is like

Ok, for the next few grad programs, I am only speculating based on friends who have gone through the programs. From what I observed, an MBA is like a mini vacation. I have known a significant amount of people that have done an MBA and they all say that the work is extremely easy. The only difficult part is gaining the networking skills that an MBA is known for. Once you learn how to network, negotiate, just plain talk to people, an MBA becomes the easiest thing in the world. So, when doing an MBA, expect the course work to be fairly easy. Focus mainly on the other skills because that really makes you stand out.

what law school is like

What Law School is Like

I may get a ton of hate from law students for this or I might not, I don’t know. I had the privilege of experiencing what law school is like because of my girlfriend. So, I got to see first hand how it affects people and what they go through, though, I didn’t do it myself. Law school is a mixture of a master’s program and PhD.

You have the heavy course work throughout while also doing an apprenticeship. You need to learn a lot about a lot of things and learn how to be a lawyer at the same time. This can be very difficult for people because it is an overload of work and stress. Law school is not a “fun time” in the sense of being able to go out all the time and actually enjoy life. No, it’s fun because you learn to be a lawyer. I mean, you applied and got in to law school for that reason, right?

From my observation, law school is just a 3 year long test to see how well you can handle stress. You will be tired, extremely caffeinated, and probably still burnt out from the first year. By the time you get to the third year, you’ve considered dropping out at least 50 times, but you don’t because you already put in the work. You finish and take the Bar and become a lawyer. That’s how I saw it. I know there’s more, but I would need to have my girlfriends write that portion lol. She’s the expert.

Final Thoughts

Grad school is quite a different experience than undergrad. It’s not nearly as bad as people make it out to be, though. You may have some bad times while being a grad student, but you’ll have even more good times. I want to finish this post with a grad school meme. I have more of them (link here). I want to finish these posts with more of them to be honest. We will see. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post about what grad school is like. I had fun writing about my experience lol.

by Benjamin Miller

Writing My Thesis and Life Updates

Hello everyone. I know, I haven’t posted in like 2 week and I am extremely sorry for that. Three months from now, I’ll have to submit my first draft of my thesis, so I have been busy writing it already. many people take much longer and I have known people to start and finish theirs in a month. For me, procrastination is a huge no-no. It causes way too much stress and anxiety. Therefore, I am starting early so I don’t have to stress as much.

I really hate how we have to write our thesis so early, though. I wish they would give us until the middle of the semester, but I do understand why they want it so soon. I also have to start preparing for my defense. A friend of mine just did his two days ago which has me thinking a lot about it. It is giving me a bit of anxiety boost to continue lol.

Manuscript Writing

Aside from my thesis, I am also preparing a manuscript for publication. This will be one of potentially three or four manuscripts that I will submit in the next few months. My adviser wants to get this published in a really good scientific journal, which means it has to be close to perfect. To put it into some perspective, I have been making graphs for the past three days. But, man, these graphs look good lol. Hopefully we can get it published in a high impact journal. That would be really awesome.

What’s Next

That’s it for academic stuff. Let’s talk about what’s next in my life. So, I had a really good interview with a company, that, I think, will be where I work after grad school. It is a super reputable consulting firm that’s world-wide. I have moved to the next step in the hiring process, so we will see what happens. In other words, grad school is paying off.

Vacation

I am getting ready for my annual trip to the Keys! Seven days of fishing, relaxation, family, and most importantly, KEY LIME PIE!!!! I am super excited for this trip and have been preparing since February. My dad is getting pretty excited too. He’s been packing gear, getting chum, looking for bait, and buying tackle. I will definitely need this time off after what I’ve been through these few weeks.

Walking Challenge

On top of all of that, I am excited to announce that I finished the Appalachian Trail on my virtual walking app. I think it was 1968 miles or something like that. It took me 355 days, but I am done. That’s kind of a cool thing to accomplish. I was bored immediately after, so I signed up for the Great Wall of China challenge. This challenge is over 2100 miles. I’ll stay busy for sure with it lol.

Final Thoughts

I promise that i have not given up on blogging. I know that I was posting like 3 times a week, but life is getting a bit in the way. I will try to at least get one or two posts out a week from here on out. If you guys are looking for a specific blog post, please let me know in the comments. I am looking for some topics that people actually want to read. Let me know. Anyway, I hope you guys and gals are having a great summer so far. I am busy but it is worth it. I will see you all in the next one, hopefully coming soon. Peace!

Does Grad School Get Any Easier?

I am currently sitting at an airport, writing this post. I am in Arkansas for a wedding and my girlfriend and I are on our way back to FLorida. Our flight was delayed by 4 hours so far due to weather, so I figured it was a great time to write a post. Todays topic is “does grad school get easier?” I have been asked this more times than I’ve wanted to lol. It is an important question and I feel like answering it may need a whole blog post.

Grad students know how hard grad school can be at some times. There are times during the year where you just lose all hope and want to throw in the towel. There are also many days/weeks where you are having the time of your life and things are easy. Overall, grad school is a roller coaster of the good and bad, the hard and the easy, and the long nights of work and long nights of sleep. But does it get easier? The short answer is no. Grad school does not get easier. The long answer is what I will discuss with you today.

Does grad school get easier?

Grad School is hard

Yes, grad school, no matter what degree it is, will be hard. I am in engineering which is notorious for flunking more people than any other major. In grad school, all of the classes you take are hard, not only because of the topics, but also because you’re learning something new. Grad school is about learning how to be a master in a very particular subject. A master’s shows that you have mastered the area you are studying and a PhD is an apprenticeship that teaches you how to do research in those particular subjects. You are learning a ton of new info and very hard info and concepts during this time. It will be hard throughout the process. The secret of grad school is, the material stays the same difficulty but you get better at it.

You Get Better

Just like all new things in life, you are probably not going to be good at it. In fact, you are probably going to suck when you first start grad school. That awesome, that’s amazing, and you should suck at it. Why is this? because it means that you are open to learn and become an expert in your field. It also means that you don’t know everything. If you knew everything there was then getting a graduate degree would be a waste of time. In fact, if you knew everything then you should be making million son game shows. No, you don’t know everything and you will fail a ton. But that is totally fine and encouraged.

I believe this is the reason that grad school is so hard. You have spent your whole life passing exams that doing something different and out of your comfort zone really throws you off. You get into concepts that are very different than those taught in undergrad and that might make you uncomfortable. See, in undergrad, there’s a formula you live by. It’s a set way of passing exams and getting to the next class. That’s it. That’s undergrad. Grad school is about discovering the unknown and learning things that are different. At first, you may really struggle. I know I sure did. But as you go through the motions, you learn and grow. Next thing you know, you’re a master of grad school and know how to do the hard things very well.

I promise you, you can do it.

I know, you are probably struggling at this moment and that is why you are reading this. And I get it, grad school is hard. You can do it though. See, the beginning is always the hardest, as I said above. You are brand new and might not think you can do it. But graduate school is quite like all of those really uplifting movies like Mulan where the protagonist (you) struggles but then succeeds. All you need to do is put in the work and believe. Everyone, no matter how smart or hard working, is going to have a hard time in graduate school.

No matter what, it will be hard. The ones that keep going, though it’s hard, will find that they start to understand the hard concepts better. They tend to find that all of their experiments start to really work. And they start to become, though slowly, a world class researcher. It just takes some time. Everyone wants to have the results and be the best right out of the gates. But it’s the people that take it slow and steady that become the best at what they do. Be the tortoise, not the hare.

You can do it. You can make grad school much easier than it is by putting in the work and the time. For a master’s degree, it will be a quick time and you may find the whole process difficult because you aren’t there long enough. For a PhD, you’ll definitely find that it get’s easier. The questions get harder, the problems become more difficult, but you have the tools in your toolbox to handle that. You become a master. That is what graduate school is all about.

Final Thoughts

So in the end, does grad school get easier? Yes and no. Yes, because you learn, grow and develop into a researcher. No, because the concepts are just as hard as always. This is what makes it such an amazing time, though. You get to see how much you develop as a researcher. You can see how you become better at what you do. Next thing you know, you’ll be up for a Nobel Prize. All you have to do is believe and keep going. Trust me, it takes time.

Well, I would love to keep going but my plane has arrived and it is time to head back to Florida. My trip was pretty awesome and I have many new and awesome memories. Arkansas is a beautiful state and if you have the chance, go and visit. Also, visit the University of Arkansas. The campus was so beautiful. Anyway, I hope you guys are doing well and I will see you in the next one. Peace.

What Every Grad Student Should Do Each Day

There are a few things that I do pretty much every day in grad school. Today, I want to go over the different things that you and every grad student needs to do each day! These will help you so much, I promise you that. There are a million things that I do each day but I keep the next few things consistent and do them each and every day that I am in the office or lab. I try and incorporate these into the weekends and such, but they help with my research and school more than my relaxation time. So, let’s get into what every grad student should do each day!

How To Start Each Day In Grad School

So let’s first talk about the 3 things I do each day to start my morning off on the right foot. Yes, There are quite a few things such as brush my teeth, feed Sirius, put on pants. You get the picture. No, there are a few things in which I do that help me deal with the stresses of the day and make sure that my day is a productive as I want it to be.

make the bed in grad school

1) The first thing I do each day is make my bed.

Now, you probably have seen the YouTube video where they do say make your bed each day to build a habit and blah, blah, blah. No, the reason I make the bed each day is because it makes me happy when I get home after a long day of lab work. I start the day off making my future self happy. It’s so nice to be able to come home to a nice looking bedroom, take a shower, and just be ready for bed. It is a great way to reduce stress from the day and it’s one less thing to worry about. Also, making the bed in the morning is a great way to get active and start your day.

what you should do each day in grad school, read happy articles

The world absolutely sucks and so much is going on that really can cause you to have only negative thoughts. We get so consumed by the negative parts of life that we forget that for every bad thing, there are 100 good things. If you want to read a really good short story, read the one by Ajahn Brahm (or listen to it here). It’s about he 2 bad bricks in the wall.

One way in which I start my day off on a positive note is by reading happy articles. Go on HappyNews.com each morning and just read those articles. Don’t read anything else unless you truly need to. I promise you that you will feel way better about the day. Hardships in the lab or during the day don’t affect you as badly if you are already in a good mood.

write what needs to get done in a planner each day of grad school

3) Lastly, I write what I need to get done.

The absolute, and most important thing that every grad student should do each day is write down in a planner what has to get done and things that you would like to get done. One of my absolute favorite things to do is cross out things that I needed to get done that day. It is so satisfying to know that you made considerable movement toward your goals. It’s totally fine if you don’t mark everything off, but it is good to write it down or you may forget to do something.

This is important because, if you’re anything like me, you have 10000000000000000 thoughts racing through your head each moment. It is easy to get side tract and forget what needed to get done. This will help to reduce a ton of anxiety and stress later on.

Things Every Grad Student Should Do Throughout The Day

So now I want to talk about what each grad student should do throughout the day. I want to list off some things that I literally do each and every single day that benefits my research and advancement to the goal of getting a doctorate. I know these things will help out with your endeavors as well, whatever those may be lol.

1) For every one journal paper you read, read up on something unrelated to your research.

You may think this one is a bit odd, but hear me out. In grad school, you will spend most of your time learning so much about a particular thing that you’ll forget everything else. I often find myself forgetting basic knowledge. You tend to push things not related to your research out of your head. I realized this when I went to trivia night recently. I was in a room with all grad students. You would think that trivia would be difficult and competitive, but it wasn’t at all. See, no one knew basic trivia because they hyper focus on their research. This is way I say read something not realated to your research. Keep stupid human knowledge still in your head.

It also helps you not get bored with your research studies. If you only focus on the research, it get’s extremely boring after a while. So, either read up on something else, learn a new skill, or maybe take breaks to do non research related things that will help you to not be a robot.

meal prep in grad school

2) Bring a ton of food to put in the fridge at work.

This is essential for the broke grad student. Get yourself a Sam’s Club or Costco membership and go buy a ton of stuff in bulk. It is much cheaper than going to the store all of the time and you can get some good stuff. Bring it all to school and put it in a communal fridge freezer. If you have an office, I guarantee there is a fridge near by.

This isn’t really something I do every day, but I do do it once a week. By bringing in food, you don’t have to make lunch each day and you sure won’t have to spend money for lunch each day either. This saves time and financial stress. The thing that I do each day is to make sure I eat that food and not go spending money on Panda Express again. Sure, eating out is great, but make it a treat and not something you do everyday.

be nice in grad school

Grad school changes people. You either come out extremely bitter, or you come out being one of the nicest people ever. I want to aim for being a nice person. Each day I try and focus on doing something nice for others or just being a nice person. Stress makes us all a bit snippy, but what if you could control those feeling and actually be a nice person even when stressed? I think it comes with actively practicing being a nice person. Go out of your way to be kind and loving towards everyone. If your lab partner messes up, help them, don’t put them down. I have seen too many grad student show anger and a bit of hatred to everyone when they come in. They blame it on stress, but it’s who they are.

A nice individual is still fairly nice even when under a ton of pressure. I find that more gets done when you’re nice to people because they like to actually work with you. If you are constantly putting them down and being unkind, they aren’t going to do the best work they can, and neither will you.

exercise in grad school

4) Exercise

You don’t have to go to the gym. You can just walk around the block a few times. Every single day needs to have a moment where you are active though. Creating this habit will keep you energized and healthy all throughout your grad school. Yes, you’ll be busy, but not so busy that you can’t go for a 30 minute walk. If you stay inactive, you’re going to have a bad time later in life.

I go to the gym each day (well try). The thing that I do that’s consistent is walk. It’s easy, you do it everyday, and it doesn’t require much effort. Walking has saved me. I gained a ton of weight when I was at an office job and walking all over campus allowed me to lose that weight, get more energy, and kick my doctoral degrees butt. I highly suggest you add this to your list of things to do each day. Aim for at least 5k steps but go for more if you can.

Final Thoughts

I do all of these things each and every single day and so should you. If you are a grad student and not doing what I posted then you need to start right away lol. I promise you that these will help you so much. You’ll be more productive, you’ll have a great experience, and you’ll be overall happier. I strongly think that the above mentioned things will help you. Yes, it’s not perfect and there’s room for more, but it’s a start. I say try it out and see how it goes.

As always, I hope you guys are having a wonderful week. If you haven’t read my post about cooking in college, I highly suggest checking it out (link here). It’s a good post, I promise. Anyway, I hope all is well and I promise I’ll write another post soon. Peace.

Goals for Grad Students

Today, I want to discuss with you some goals that need to be on you list of achievements in grad school. Overall, the main goal of grad school is to graduate, make a difference, and not go insane, right? There are some other goals that I truly believe are important to strive for that will benefit you as a student and professional. Honestly, the goals for grad students that I am about to share of some that I have been working to reach. Am I there, heck no lol, but I have learned quite a bit from trying to reach these goals.

What are some common goals for grad students that you know of? Publishing peer reviewed articles is probably a good start. Graduating is probably the next biggest goal. The ones I want to talk about today are probably goals that you might not think are important now, in the beginning stages of grad school, but oh man, you’ll want to try and hit these by the end. So let’s talk about goals for grad students!

6 Goals For Grad Students To Aim For Before Graduation

Yes, I have 6 goals that you need to aim for. There are many more, but I feel that these are the most important for all graduate students. If you would like to add some more, please comment on this post. I love when people comment.

goals for grad students: presentation skills

1) Being Able to Give a Presentation Without Having a Breakdown

Ok, so I think this is a goal that everyone has. Grad students have to give a ton of presentations and they are nerve wracking. One of the biggest fears that people have is public speaking. Grad school will probably lessen that fear. This goal is a great one to ty and achieve because of the amount of talks you are gong to have to give. You’re also going to have to present your research multiple times and having a mental breaking prior to presenting is not good. Presentation skills are essential to being able to graduate as well as being a very good researcher. This is why one of your goals in grad school should be focused on being able to give a presentation and be able to answer questions. If you can do this, you will be very successful.

2) Being Ok With Not Knowing Everything

I am going to tell you something that may hurt your feelings or make you uncomfortable. YOU DON”T KNOW EVERYTHING!!! Are you a bit uncomfortable with that? Good. Grad students tend to think they know everything until they figure out that they don’t. Usually around the second semester, they start realizing that they don’t really know much about their research and that can cause some anxiety. You are surrounding yourself with people that do know what they are talking about and you might not know much. The thing is, you’ll learn as you go and you’ll start knowing a lot more on the research subject, but you won’t know everything. Once you realize that it is ok not to know everything, then you can release a ton of stress and anxiety. Research is about finding why things happen which means that people don’t have the answers and it’s up to you to figure it out. Be alright with not knowing everything, you have a long journey to learn. Plus, if you knew everything, then you wouldn’t be doing research.

goals for grad students: deal with finances

3) Graduating Without Too Much Debt

One of my goals in undergrad was to go to as many parties and stay social as much as possible. I had loans that would cover my expenses. Yes, I know this is irresponsible, but that’s what you think about as a 21 year old. In grad school, your main focus is to learn to do research, get a higher education, and grow as an academic. You are also going to be pretty poor so taking on debt might be an option. In grad school, a really good goal is to try and limit your debt and live within your means.

Don’t be like me in undergrad and spend a ton of money partying lol. This is a great goal to tr and achieve because it teaches you how to manage money. With a grad degree, you’ll probably make a bit of money when you graduate. The good thing that happens is you learn to live on very little money and not spend it all at once. I thing grad school really forces you to be financially responsible.

goals for grad students: handle stress

4) Be able to Handle Stress

Grad school is stressful. I write about the stress all of the time (check out the links here, here, here). One goals to aim for is being an expert in stress management. If you can control stress and anxiety, you can rule the universe. Seriously, people go their whole lives without being able to handle stress and anxiety and it makes things very difficult. Finding the best way to manage stress in grad school will be one of the biggest goals that you need to try and achieve. Not only will this help you graduate on time, but you will not end up with a mental health problem. Grad students are prone to being affected by mental health issues. One of the main reasons this occurs is because of stress. Finding a way to handle this stress and overcome it is one of the best things you can strive for.

5) Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfotable

I wrote an article about doing something that makes you a bit uncomfortable every single day. Here is a link to that post. A goal that I am trying to achieve is being comfortable with thigs that bring me out of my comfort zone. As I say in the post, this is where the magic happens. Growth occurs when you decide to branch out and leave what makes you comfortable. In grad school, you will have to do a ton of thigs that you would rather not do. Conferences, presentations, writing, talking on the phone, emailing about reference letters, etc. If you can become comfortable with doing things that originally made you uncomfortable, you’ll be unstoppable.

Think about all of the things that are stopping you from advancing in your studies. You might be afraid to ask questions or email your professor. You know that doing such things will help you but it makes you feel uncomfortable so you don’t do it. Be ok with the feeling and do it anyway. Eventually you’ll get to a point where you won’t feel weird asking questions, talking to people, or anything else. It’s a bit of exposure therapy. Check it out.

goals for grad students: Being able to say you had a good experience

6) Aim to Be Able To Say “I Had A Great Grad School Experience”

People love to complain about their grad school experience. It really isn’t that bad. Of course so people do have a bad time, but collectively, it’s really not that bad. I think a great goal to achieve is finding all of the good things about grad school and remembering those when you get to the finish line. Really focus on the good that comes from your time in college. We need more people going online and encouraging people to go to grad school. There’s a ton of negative Reddit posts that discourage grad school. Trust me, if you focus on the good that came with grad school, you’ll have a better time. Aim to reach this goal. It’s very important.

Final Thoughts

We have come to the end of the post about goals for grad students. I hope you found this information informative and helpful. If you would like to add some other goals, please comment them. I know that this post is a bit late in the week. Yes, yes,I know, I haven’t been posting as much because I’ve been going hard on job applications. I have had a few interviews so far and I think I will write a post about that. Getting a job after a PhD is quite an interesting process. Anyway, I hope you all are having a wonderful day and week and I will see you in the next one. Peace.

Graduate vs Undergraduate: Who’s Better?

We have a battle going on. It’s a battle of graduate vs undergraduate and who is better. Place your bets now! Ok, now that you have your bets down, let us talk about graduates vs undergraduates. First, we need to define what each one is. I’ll start this segment off by showing the difference better graduate students and undergraduate students. Then I will go into who I think is better. Well, maybe not who is better, but definitely what each entails and maybe the level of difficulty that each has. So, hold on tight everyone while we go head to head in Graduate vs Undergraduate (queue cool music that they usually play in moments like this).

Graduate vs Undergraduate: undergraduate student

What is an Undergraduate

So let’s start off defining what an undergraduate is for those that are not too familiar with the term. An undergraduate, according to the dictionary, is “a student at a college or university who has not yet earned a bachelor’s or equivalent degree”. So, an undergrad is just someone who is in the first 4 years of college. They are the babies of the campus. Think dorm room living, dining hall eating, partying every night individuals lol. These are the ones that are in the beginning stage of their learning as well as getting ready for either grad school or job searching.

Undergraduates are in the exam and paper stage of their college careers. Usually undergrads are doing coursework only which requires passing a ton of exams. At the end of the semester, there are usually projects that come with most classes. Some undergrad degrees even require doing an internship in order to graduate. But, primarily, their job is to go to class, pass exams, and move on to the next course. Undergrads usually learn a lot of information about a lot of subjects.

Graduate vs Undergraduate: graduate student

What is a Graduate

Grad school is a bit different that undergrad. A grad student is one who has finished their bachelors and is trying to obtain a master’s or doctorate. This also includes the professional degrees like medical and law. Grad students will take courses and many will also do research. You usually go into a specialty at this point and study a lot about one particulate field. For me, grad school is learning a lot about water systems. My master’s was all about water and my PhD is even more niche and deals with lead in water. Undergrad was all about environmental issues which included air, soil, water, solid materials, and climate. Way mor broad than what I deal with now.

Grad students will primary conduct research. Either this or they will be in an MBA program or a professional program. For those in the research field, the classes the take are there to help them do the research and understand wat is going on. Grad students are less focused on passing the class and more focused on learning the material so they can benefit some way from it.

Graduate vs Undergraduate: whos better

What is the difference better Undergraduate and Graduate

So the main difference between graduates and undergraduates, other than having a bachelors, is really the focus of their studies. Undergrads will primarily focus on a very broad topic and graduates will hone in on a very niche topic and study a great amount on that particular subject. This makes both graduate and undergrade studies very difficult.

Another key difference is length of the degree. An undergraduate degree is usually 4 years while a graduate degree can be anywhere from 1 all the way up to 7 or 8 years. Class load is also a difference as undergrads will usually take 12 to 16 credits and grad students will take a maximum of 9 to 12.

Graduate vs Undergraduate: what's harder

Which is harder

So, when comparing which is harder, it really comes down to what your major is. I found that undergrad engineering was much harder than getting my masters. In some cases where undergrad was easy, grad school might be wayyyyyy harder. If you are comparing things like getting a degree in underwater basket weaving to law school, of course grad school is going to harder.

I think undergrad might be harder than grad school. This is my opinion, if you think otherwise, let me know in the comments. Hear me out. In undergrad, you learn some complex ideas about a whole bunch of things. You will be constantly busy, broke, exhausted, and pushed to the limits. You have to pass courses in order to get your degree and you have a very limited amount of time to accomplish this. In grad school, you do have to pass courses, but the classes are much easier because you have conditioned yourself already to passes exams. The research is the hard part. In a master’s program, usually you are working on a research project that your adviser knows will work. It’s mostly there to get you introduced to research.

A Doctorate is Different

In a doctorate program, you may have a project where no one knows the outcome, but you don’t really have a set time to complete it. In fact, if you have enough funding, you can be in the program for a very long time. The hard part about a PhD is being independent most of the time while working on this project. You will probably be the only person in the world that knows anything about what you do. This can be super tough.

So when it comes to graduate vs undergraduate and which is harder, I think undergraduate takes the cake. This doesn’t not mean that all undergrad degrees are harder and this doesn’t mean that all graduate degrees aren’t harder. I just find that getting an undergrad degree, overall (well at least in the STEM fields) is more difficult.

Graduate vs Undergraduate: So Ben, Who is Better

When it comes to graduate vs undergraduate, I have to go with graduates for this because I am pretty biased lol. I love my undergrads, but I think they are still a bit immature. When in undergrad, I was the immature one. I did not have any experience whatsoever and thought I knew the how whole world worked. Once I started working full time, I realized that I knew nothing. Grad school is where I learned how to actually be a scientist and an engineer. I learned about my weaknesses and my strengths and I have grown into the person I am today because of grad school.

Undergrads, I love you all. I have so much respect for you and what you are going to accomplish. Undergrad was an amazing 5.5 years of my life and I know you all are having a great time. Those were some of the best years of my life, and some of the hardest. Enjoy the time you have because life gets tough and it is nothing like college. I guess another reason why grad school is better is because you can put off post grad things as well. Yes, it will eventually catch up to me, though.

Final Thoughts

When going head to head, graduate vs undergraduate, who do you think is better? I am curious to know. I hope this was a decent post. I wanted to have some fun with it and see where it took me. This is an interesting subject and I thought it would be a good one to tackle today. Anyway, I hope you are all having a great day. If you haven’t already, go check out my post about the Best Grad School Memes (link here). Those are sure to brighten up you day. See you all in the next one. Peace!

Grad School Mental Breakdown

Today I am going to cover a very tough subject and that is grad school mental breakdowns. Everyone that I know has their own story. I have a few stories and I will share one with you. Having a mental breakdown in grad school, let alone life, is a fairly common occurrence. Life is not easy, in any sense. In fact, it is the hardest thing that you will ever do. Having a mental breakdown can be a scary thing, but there are some things that we can do to prevent them and even take control when they occur.

My Mental Breakdown(s) in grad school

I have had quite a few grad school mental breakdowns, Usually they have all occurred in the first year to year and a half of grad school. This is a weird transition for many people and these breakdowns usually occur then. The biggest mental breakdown was right before Covid. It actually cause me to seek help from a therapist. I was doing my thing in school and starting my research. I was alone for a great deal of time and always had a feeling of loneliness, but never anything that really made me have a breakdown. It wasn’t until, I think Christmas time, where I snapped. I was stressed from school, I had no one to talk to, and the feeling of loneliness overwhelmed me. My anxiety was through the roof and I had some episodes of pretty bad depression. This last a few months until therapy really started to kick in.

Mental Breakdowns are Different For Everyone

Grad school affects everyone differently. Some people are fortunate enough to go through and never have a mental breakdown. Others, have a hard time with them. Grad school mental breakdowns also have different forms. You might have a breakdown because you failed a test. You might have an overwhelming sense of anxiety, sadness, depression, and any other negative emotion. But this may only last a day or so. Some mental breakdowns can occur even longer. For me, it lasted much longer than I wanted it to. Yes, I still have mental breakdown, but they are the shorter types now.

Be Prepared

Grad school is stressful. Sometimes, the stress will be so much that it may lead to a mental breakdown. Unfortunately, this is normal. Why this is a normal thing is beyond me and I really wish people wouldn’t push themselves to the absolute limit. It’s terrible on your health and mental state. The best think you can do is prepare for something like this to happen. Until the whole system changes, there will always be mental breakdowns for grad students and college student.

One of the best ways to prepare is to handle stress early on. Grad school has a funny way of going from slow to 100 mph in a day. You might be having a good week, low stress, then get hit with 4 assignments and 3 papers all due in a matter of days. This can be extremely stressful. Being prepared and having the ability to cope with the stress can help train your mind to be able to handle the hardships that are going to come your way. One way of doing this is to take breaks when feeling overwhelmed. Do meditation. Finding a stress relief method such as exercise or even combining meditation and exercise by going on a meditation walk (Yes that is a thing).

Also, if you are able to, do not procrastinate. I think many mental breakdowns can be avoided just by starting early and getting small amounts of work done each day. Imagine you have a few assignments due but put them off until the last minute. You’re going to be stressed beyond belief. You probably won’t do your best work, which might cause you to get an F, and you’ll be stressing over it until you get started. All of these combined are a recipe for disaster.

If you Are Having a Grad School Mental Breakdown

So, you’ve tried to prepared, but you still had a grad school mental breakdown. What can you possibly do? So, there are a few things that you can do in order to reduce the breakdown that I think are quite beneficial. Some of these are really easy to do and I use them often to help reduce the chance of me having one as well as reduce the breakdown while I am having it. Hopefully some of these help.

Grad School mental breakdown
cry it out

Cry it out and then move on

I don’t remember the last time that I have cried while having a mental breakdown. I do know people that cry it out though. This works if it is something like failing a test, being overwhelmed at the moment, or anything else where the breakdown is a bit short. Just cry it out. Cry as much as possible and wear yourself out. Get it completely out of your system. As soon as you are done, you’ll probably be so exhausted that the mental breakdown doesn’t faze you anymore.

This is a good moment to calm down, forgive yourself for feeling bad, and learn from the experience. Maybe after a good cry, you realize that the grade really isn’t that bad or you might not have as much work as you think you do. You’ll have a bit of clarity afterwards and that can help solve many of your problems. A friend of mine has done this multiple times and they ended up better than fine. They also graduated with many honors and a great career.

Run Away

I don’t necessarily mean run away from the problem. I actually mean to physically run. get yourself up and go on a long run or, better yet, go sprint. You’ll probably be full of anxiety and unwanted energy. Go exhaust yourself. You really can’t have a mental breakdown when you’re running. This is kind of like crying it out. You exhaust yourself and then you might gain some clarity afterwards. You can also go to the gym and just lift heavy weights instead. I find this difficult though because during a mental breakdown, you’re mind is racing and lifting weight might not be distracting enough.

Grad School mental breakdown

Spend time with others or alone if you need to

Grad school can be lonely and this might cause some unwanted feelings to come up. If you have a mental breakdown because of being alone all of the time, try and spend some time with others. If it is the opposite and you are having a breakdown because you are overwhelmed with people, try getting alone for a while. On the other hand, if you need to be alone, try and go somewhere that in nature. Go to a park, or walk a trial in the woods. If you need to see people, call up a friend and ask them to dinner. Go somewhere that’s busy and you’ll see many people.

If you are having a mental breakdown but don’t want to go do stuff, try calling up a friend or loved one and just talk. Get them to take your mind off whatever is making you have a breakdown. Talk with them about why this happened and maybe they can give you another way of looking at what’s going on. Sometimes, you can solve your problems and calm down all because someone talked to you and possible gave you another way of looking at your problems. Sometimes, all it takes is a phone call.

Grad School Mental Breakdown Getting help

Get Some Professional Help

This is what I did. I signed up through Talkspace.com and was in contact with a therapist right away. If you are having a ton of grad school mental breakdowns, it probably means that you are not able to handle the stress and emotions as well as you could. A therapist will help you with this. I highly, highly, highly recommend seeing a therapist more than anything to be honest. My therapist truly made a difference in my life. I rarely have mental breakdowns anymore, and if I do, I know how to handle them and learn from them. I wrote all about my experience, (here). Go check it out and see if it’s something that’s right for you.

Most Of All, Be Kind To Yourself

I think the most heartbreaking thing that I see grad students doing when they are stressed or if things go badly is that they blame themselves or put themselves down. If you truly want to end the vicious cycle of grad school mental breakdowns occurring all of the time, you have to be kind to yourself. This means not beating yourself up if you didn’t do you best work or negatively talking about yourself when things go bad. I am not saying to blame other’s either, unless it’s truly their fault. I am saying not to blame anyone.

If things are overly stressful, don’t put yourself down for putting off the work until last minute. Instead, tell yourself that you will be more proactive next time and learn from your experience. You might have a mental breakdown at first, but if you are kind to yourself and learn from your mistakes, you’ll have much fewer.

I think what really helped me in the end was being kind to myself, learning from each experiencing, and growing from them. At first, this can be a hard thing to do, but keep going. Things are always hard at first but get easier the more you do it.

Final Thoughts

Having a grad school mental breakdown does not mean you are crazy or going to fail. It means that you are human. The best thing that humans can ever do is learn from every experience, get right back up, and keep pushing on. See, grad school never gets easier. It never will. You just get better. You can either “survive grad school” or you can thrive in it. If you are here because you are having mental breakdowns in grad school, remember that you are not alone. Every grad student has at least had a few. You’re human, it’s going to happen.

If you are having trouble with grad school and need some advice, I am always here to help. Send me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. We can talk about ways to make sure that you get the most out of grad school as well as leave without going insane. I hope you all have a wonderful day that is stress free. I will see you all in the next one. Peace.

Failing an Exam in College

Failing an exam in college is quite a heartbreaking thing. You studied countless hours only to received a grade that was much less than you hoped. Trust me, I have experienced a ton of grades that started with 4s and 5s lol. I have failed quite a few exams in both undergrad as well as grad school. Today, I am here to discuss how to react, what to do, and how to overcome failing an exam in college. I will discuss how to go about failing an exam in undergrad as well as grad school. They aren’t too different, but the way you deal with it in grad school is different than undergrad.

failing an exam in college

What It feels like to fail an exam in college

For those of of you starting college, or those that have been in it for a while, you’ll eventually get a failing grade. There are a select few that will never experience an F on an exam, and we all envy those people. Failing an exam is like getting kicked in the gut. You might have studied weeks for an exam, gotten to it, and completely forgot everything there was to know. If you aren’t familiar with test anxiety, read about it (here). This can cause you to forget everything and fail an exam. Of course there are other reasons why you failed. Maybe you didn’t study. Shame on you lol but life may have gotten in the way and made it impossible. So, no shame on those people.

When you study for a long time to get a failing grade, it physically and mentally hurts. As I stated, it can feel like you were kicked in the gut. Mentally, your brain will be going to every negative thought in the book. You might have self doubt. The amount of worrying for your future will increase, and anxiety will be very high. If you are on the premed track, you’ll probably be thinking that you aren’t set out to be a doctor. I think the mental effects are the absolute worse. But it will be fine.

What to do first when you get a failing grade on an exam

First thing first, do not blame yourself and do not panic. Failing an exam in college happens all of the time. There are so many reasons why you may have failed that exam. The test may have been unfair. You may not have had enough time to prepare for such a hard exam. Test anxiety kicked in and made you forget what happened. Heck, something may have happened that week that really put you in a bad mental state, one where you probably wouldn’t have passed the exam anyway. Whatever the cause, do not blame yourself. If you are coming to this blog, you are probably finding ways to cope with failure because you usually do well and are an overall good student.

The first thing that you need to do is look over the answers and see where you went wrong. Maybe you got the answers right and the TA marked it wrong. Maybe you just made some silly mistakes and seeing the answers will show you that you were on the right course, just not there. Just take a look at the answer sheet and see what went wrong. If there were mistakes made by the TA, email the professor right away. You might get quite a few points back.

Next, after you saw what went wrong, go over the problem again and really understand how to do the problem. One weird, but actually understandable, think that will happen is you’ll remember how to do those problems later. Years later, I still remember the material on the exams I failed. I also remember how to do those problems still. That’s because I went back and learned. The combination of learning and having a tragic event like failing really solidified those questions in my head. I think it’s a form of Flashbulb Memory.

Moving past failing an exam in college

IU think this may be one of the hardest things to do. Failing an exam in college can be extremely difficult to get over. You will be worrying whether or not you will pass the next exam and I guarantee you will probably be looking at different majors lol. I did that after failing an exam in undergrad. I got a D+, which is technically a failing grade for certain courses. This was a critical tracking course, which meant that I needed a C and nothing lower. A D+ really messed with me.

What I did after getting that grade helped me to move past the feeling of failure. I took a moment, looked at what I did wrong, went over every question, then I went to get ice cream. The first thing to do when moving on is to let it go. You failed an exam. If you did everything in your power to make sure that it was graded fairly then all you can do is move on and tackle to next exam. Do not linger over the fact that that pone exam was bad. Instead, focus on how you can improve and get a higher grade on the next one.

If You Fail an Exam in Undergrad

You are a baby and learning. Unfortunately, your whole existence revolves around passing exams. Failing an exam in undergrad may be detrimental to your GPA and you graduating. My best piece of advice is to actually go to office hours, participate in lectures and everything to do with that class, and I guarantee that you will pass the course, even after failing an exam. DO not give up any hope. Work hard, put in the hours to study and you will be rewarded. Also, be kind to yourself. You may not get straight A’s, but straight A students don’t necessarily make the best employees. I also feel really bad for those that haven’t failed an exam. When the time comes where they do fail something, because they haven’t experienced it before, they’ll have a rougher time with coping with the failure.

Don’t give up hope. Most classes have 3 to 5 exams, so failing one will give you motivation to pass the others. Also, most finals are a lot easier than the first and second exams of the class (TA secret). If you are close to failing the class, stick with it until the final. You’ll have a grade booster then.

failing an exam in college: getting past the failure

If you Fail an Exam in Grad School

So, I have written about whether or not grades matter in grad school. If you want to read about that, here is a link. You probably won’t really deal with failing exams in grad school because most professors will hand out a B as the lowest grade. Colleges are under a ton of pressure to graduate master’s and doctoral students, so they pass pretty much everyone. In grad school, research should be your main focus. If you fail an exam, sure it stinks, but you’ll probably be used to failure so it won’t faze you at all.

If you are concerned with failing an exam in grad school, I have some helpful tips. 1) Take a deep breathe if you do fail one. Go see your professor and go over the exam 2)Forget about it. Go do some research because you will be more remembered for the research you do, the lives you changed, and how you benefit society than passing a stupid test. No one will remember you for passing a class, but they will remember you when you contribute some form of knowledge to the world.

failing an exam in college

In The End

Grades, in the grand scheme of things, don’t matter. No one will ask you how well you did on the second exam of your chemistry course. All you really need to do is pass, actually take something away from the class, and move on to the next one. This is true for most everything unless you are going to grad school or a professional school. Good grades are important then, but one failing grade on an exam won’t really affect you too much. If you are in engineering, just graduating will get you an amazing career.

The most important thing is learning something when you fail an exam in college. If you don’t learn anything, then you truly failed. Failing an exam in college is not the end of the world. You may fail multiple times and that is fine. Just learn from the mistakes that occurred and move on. Life is way too short to ruminate over a stupid test.

Final Thoughts

I want to know. How many college exams have you failed? I think I failed like 10 or close to it. I remember the first few that I failed but lost count lol. If it says anything, I failed more times than I wanted and now I am well on my way to receiving a doctorate in engineering. This is happening because I learned from the failed exams and I grew from them. You can too.

If you haven’t already, go and check out my post about the best gifts for grad students. It’s graduation season so I want to help you find the perfect gift for your grad student. Link is right here. I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next one. Peace!

Summers in Grad School

This post about summers in grad school may contains affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

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.

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.

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.

person standing near trees
Photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexels.com

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.

sticky notes on board
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

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.

man holding his face
Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

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.

person holding pink suede long waller
Photo by Robert Bogdan on Pexels.com

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.

cute family picture
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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!

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.

Why is a PhD Important

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “why is a PhD important?” No? Are you sure? lol Well most likely you haven’t really thought about that, but then again, how else did you manage to stumble upon this post? Hmmmm. Anyway, today I want to discuss with you why a PhD is important. This doesn’t mean that you have to go get one to be important. No, quite the opposite. In fact, I know a ton of very important people that are important and just have a high school diploma.

Nah, today I want to tell you the importance of a PhD and what it entails. There is a reason to go and get a PhD instead of just ending with a Master’s or bachelors. Yes, slaving away at your desk for years on end actually has a purpose and I am going to share some of the main reasons why it is an important title to have.

First Off, How do you even get a PhD?

Well, I am glad you asked. First off, you need to finish your bachelors degree. Next, you can either find a program that takes people straight from undergrad or you can do what I did, get your master’s first. I would say, if you really know that you want to do a doctorate, like really really really know, then go straight into the program. If you are unsure then probably do a master’s or at least get some job experience first.

So, after obtaining a bachelors or master’s, you start a PhD program. in order to get a PhD, you need to work on a very long project (check out my blog about the length of a PhD Here). You first need to pass a qualifying exam which makes you a PhD candidate. From there, you will work almost every day trying to solve some interesting problems, create novel ideas, and add to knowledge of humanity (weird phrase but works). At a point, you will go from student to researcher and you’ll know when that point occurs. For me, I think I hit that point recently.

Next, after years of research and learning, it is time to write your thesis and defend it to a committee of usually 4 or 5 people. This is the moment that you literally have been waiting for because after your defense, you’ll most likely get that coveted “Doctor” title. It purely states that you have learned the basics to do research. This does not mean you are the best in the field. No, you have many years to become that. This just means that you have the basic skills to do independent research. Fun, right?

why a PhD is important

So Back To Why a PhD is Important

So, a PhD is important because you have learned the skills to do independent research. You become the critical thinker. We need doctors to figure out problems that society has as a whole. Researchers and developers with PhDs are the ones that are answer public health problems, making sure your car works, developing the next cell phone, and figuring out how to make it to mars.

Those with doctorates have developed the critical skills that are needed to thinking outside the box and come up with ways to solve every day problems. They have learned how to pick out bad science and develop “good science”. All in all, PhDs are highly qualified to tackle the big problems and lead teams to tackle these problems as well.

Now, this does not mean that PhD graduates are superior. That is not the case at all. They just have been trained more dealing with research than those who have received a bachelors or master’s. They are kind of like firefighters of the science world. Yes, people can put out fires themselves, but you call up a firefighter to do it because they are trained to put out fires! Same with PhDs. You can do the science and research yourself, but you call on the ones who were trained for years dealing with these sort of problems. This is why a PhD is important.

So, should you get a PhD?

Ask yourself some important questions! 1) Do you love science or research or just something so much that you are willing to devote 3 to 8 years of your life studying that subject? 2) Are you ready to fail over and over and over? 3) Do you care if you develop an anxiety disorder? 4) Are you Ok with being poor? 5) Are you ready to be challenged beyond anything you’ve done before?

If you answered yes to all of these then you’re way better than me lol. Getting a PhD is a tough road but so was literally everything else in your life. Is getting a PhD worth it? Oh, totally. Would I tell anyone to go get one? Sure, if you think it will help you one day. A PhD is something that not many people get because not everyone needs it. If you think that it is something that you want and you are truly passionate about research, go right ahead. Go get yourself a doctorate. If you are ok where you are at and don’t need a doctorate for any reason, I would say stay very far away. It is not worth it in that case lol.

Are you Ready to Do a Doctorate?

So, after reading all of my blog posts and articles on my website love-and-bean.com, have you decided that a PhD is worth it? If you have then that’s great! I would love to know that you are ready for that journey. If you are still on the fence about it, send me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. We can talk about it and I’ll help answer any questions that you may have regarding a PhD.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this post pretty enlightening. Getting a PhD can be extremely important and I hope I answered why. For my goals, a PhD is very important and that might be the same for you as well. It has been my life for 3.5 years so it definitely is important to me. Anyway, I hope you all have a magnificent day and I will see you in the next one. Also, I want to give a shout out to Maddy and her friends up north. Thank you for being fans of my blog.

If you haven’t read my post about doing an internship in grad school, I highly recommend checking it out. Link Here

Anxiety in College Will Come Back, Be Ready

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

Quite a title, isn’t it? Yesterday, I was reminded about something that I thought was over with. My anxiety flared up big time and so did the loneliness that I felt prior to going to therapy. Now, I am not asking for sympathy, in fact, what occurred yesterday was a good reminder that anxiety might be a life thing. Yes, you can do all of the coping mechanisms, all of the therapy, everything. But, in reality, it will probably always be there, just not as bad.

This blog was created with the intention of helping other’s in grad school (and now college) cope with the stress and anxiety that comes with school. It is also a time of transition in your life which may make these emotions overwhelming at points. It is normal and you are normal, remember that.

But back to what I was saying. Yes, yesterday I was overwhelmed with anxiety, probably due to the fact that I may have to move again. I was given the green light to graduate in December, which means that I need housing until then. So, I have been looking and haven’t really found anything yet. On top of that, money is a bit tight which also brings out a ton of anxiety. Enough so, that I had to leave my apartment and go on a very long walk to calm myself down. Don’t worry, I was able to calm down :).

anxiety in college

Remember to Keep Up Coping Mechanisms

Anxiety in college is a major concern and it will come and go. Many people will experience a ton of it in very stressful situations such as exams, projects, public speaking. Other people will just experience it during very normal and calm situations, such as walking to class, reading a book, or cooking a meal. It is tough but managing it and actually doing things to cope with the anxiety is a must.

If you are doing things to reduce the feeling on anxiety and possibly depression in college, keep doing them. You may wake up one day and feel totally better. This happens and it is great but that doesn’t mean that you can start slacking. I started slacking and the anxiety and feeling of loneliness hit me like a ton of bricks.

See, anxiety reduction is like a muscle. You go to the gym (coping mechanisms) to strengthen that muscle (reduce anxiety). When you get to a certain amount of muscle, do you just give up? No, you keep working to maintain that amount of muscle and physical fitness. This is like reducing anxiety. Once you feel like you got rid of it, don’t give up. You need to maintain the reduction of anxiety and keep going. It gets easier though. Some days, your anxiety will flare up but you will be ready. It might flare up for a bit but go away fairly quickly ad stay away for a long time.

Helpful Places For Anxiety Reduction

I want to share with you some more anxiety reducing techniques and a few sites and YouTube Channels that will help you along your journey to reduce anxiety in college. I use all of these ways. So, let me share a couple of free things that can help you with anxiety. Then I will talk about some not-so-free things lol.

Free

Guided Meditations

I use all of these different meditation guides to help reduce my anxiety and stress levels. The UCLA has some really great exercises that you can learn. The YouTube channels are good to use to help you meditate if you need a guided mediation.

  1. UCLA Heath Guided Mediations (link )
  2. Goodful 10-minute meditation for anxiety (link)
  3. How to Meditate -New York Times (link)

Therapy YouTube Channels

These channels will teach you ways to reduce anxiety in college and cope with those feelings. They will also give you many different ways to deal the the feeling and grow from them. I highly encourage you to check them out.

  1. Therapy in a Nutshell (link)
  2. Uncommon Practitioners (link)
  3. Barbara Heffernan (link)

Calming Music

Everyone needs calming music in their lives. If you have a stressful thing coming up, play some music from these channels. I always love the lofi music with rain included.

  1. ChilledFOX (link)
  2. Fantastic Music (link)

My Blog Posts

I have a few great posts about dealing with anxiety and ways to reduce those feelings. Go check them out and tell your friends about these posts as well. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. How to Handle Anxiety in Grad School (link)
  2. Helping Other’s Cope with Stress and Anxiety (link)
  3. Wood Carving Reduced My Anxiety (link)
  4. Let’s Talk About Anxiety Triggers (link)

Not So Free

Here are a list of therapies and apps that you can buy to help reduce anxiety and learn how to cope. I used Talkspace for my anxiety. I was matched up with a licensed therapist who was absolutely wonderful. If you want to know more about my journey through therapy., check out my blog about it (link here).

  1. Headspace
  2. Online-Therapy.com
  3. Talkspace.com
  4. BetterHelp.com

Final Thoughts

Learning to cope with anxiety is a skill that needs to be taught to all college students. College is super stressful and anxiety cases are increasing. Grad school is especially stressful and many student experience the negative effects of anxiety. Being able to control the anxious feelings and overcoming those feelings all together is difficult but essential.

If you have been dealing with anxiety and have learned how to cope with it, please continue to do those coping exercises. Better yet, teach others how to do them as well. Anxiety will most likely be with you your whole life. That does not mean that it has to run your whole life. Make sure to stay on top of it!

Anyway, I hope you found this post to be a good one. If not, let me know lol. I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you again very soon.

How many grad classes should I take while working full-time?

Time to answer another wonderful question. Yes, I have experienced working full time as well as going to grad school. It is tough, let me tell you. It is not impossible, though. Going to grad school while working full time is a great way to increase your chances at a promotion, get more money, gain more skills, and show off that you’re a smarty pants lol. There are many questions that you will have before starting a grad program and today I want to talk about a few very important ones, relating to classes and how many grad classes to take while working full time.

So, how many grad classes should you take while working full time? If you are an over achiever that wants to spend all of their life working, then 9 credits (3 classes) is a good start. If you are like me and don’t want to hit burnout, 2 classes or 6 credits is the max that you should take. 1 class is ideal for someone that wants a degree but doesn’t really care how log it takes.

brown and black wooden chairs inside room
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During Your Master’s

person using macbook pro on table
Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA on Pexels.com

Why choose 3 Classes

9 credits is a full time gig. 3 classes is usually the max amount of classes that full time students tend to take. I have never taken more than 3 classes at a time in grad school because there just really isn’t enough time in the day to complete classwork as well as research. Also, taking this amount of classes keeps you on schedule to graduate in 2 years without going insane. A typical course load for a master’s student is usually 3 classes your first and second semesters, 6 credits you last two semesters. For thesis driven individuals, the last 6 credits is usually your research.

When you are working full time, you probably won’t be doing research. Many full time workers are just trying to get their degrees to boost either their pay or their potential to grow in their company. If you want to move that along extremely quickly, you can do a full time course load and take 3 classes each semester. This is doable but not advised.

I would suggest staying away from this amount of work unless you are truly ready to be working every hour of the day. If you have a family or want free time, I would suggest taking fewer classes.

man in black and white polo shirt beside writing board
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Why Choose 2 Classes

2 classes each semester (spring and fall) is a good way to finish your degree in about 2.5 years. This is assuming that you are taking master’s courses and not doing a PhD. Most master’s are 30 credits so 2 classes*3 credits = 6 credits a semester for 5 semesters or 2.5 years. This is what I did. The grad classes I took while working full time were engineering courses. So, taking more than 2 courses was going to be too much. There were many days where I would be working on course work during my lunch. Also, planning exams around your schedule is often quite difficult.

If you are working full time and in a hurry, I would suggest not taking more than 2 classes each semester. This is a good amount of course work to keep you busy, but not too much to make you slack on your duties at your job. Also, more than this amount of coursework may be detrimental to your GPA. Remember, you have to maintain a B in your course work.

gold number balloon on white background
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Why Choose 1 Class

So there are plenty of reasons to only take one grad class while working full time. The main reason is because taking more than this may cause you to fall behind in your work at your job. You may also want to dive deeper into topics covered in your classes more and taking too many may have you stressing to pass instead of learning. Heck, you may only be able to afford 3 credits at a time. Grad school classes are pretty darn expensive and being able to afford only one class is something you have to consider.

Taking one course while working full time almost guarantees that you won’t stress yourself out and you can have a life outside of work and school. One class is also extremely manageable so you probably won’t fall behind. Unfortunately, it will take you much longer to finish your degree. So, I said it would take you about 5 semesters to finish a master’s with 6 credits. Well, double that time and that’s how long it will take you to finish with only one class each semester. 5 years! That’s how long it will take. This is one of the reasons why I would recommend taking 2 grad classes a semester while working full time than 1.

woman in hijab working on pad in office
Photo by Diva Plavalaguna on Pexels.com

During your PhD

If you are crazy enough to work full time and pursue a PhD, then you are a more motivated person than me lol. I actually know people doing their PhDs while working full time. They usually have their master’s done already and only need to take a few classes before they get into their research. I would say that if you are only doing the coursework part of a PhD while working full time, 2 classes is the absolute most you should take. A PhD is a marathon and not a sprint. Plus, you’ll be in the program for a pretty long time so you don’t need to focus too much on the classes. The class work in a doctorate program is mainly there to help you with the research that you will be doing and less of being a requirement.

A master’s degree is mostly coursework while a PhD is learning to do research. This is why taking fewer classes and substituting the class time for research time is a must. Often, in PhD programs, research is pretty much it’s own 3 credit course. Treat it that way. So, take maybe 3 credits of a course and 3 credits of research each semester. You will likely only have to take a max of 15 course credits or 5 classes, so you can spread those out. The research credits will take up the majority of the total credits earned. Hopefully this makes sense.

So, if you want to do a doctorate while working full time, take a max of 6 credits, or 2 classes. You will be very busy for a very long time.

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking about doing grad school while you work full time, you have some hard work ahead of you. It is so rewarding though and 100% worth it. Honestly, doing grad school while working as an engineer was the best thing that happened to me. It introduced me to the wonderful world of research. Also, without going to grad school, there would be no love and bean :(.

If you have any questions taking grad classes while working full time, send me an email. My email is benswaringen@yahoo.com. I would love to tell you about my experience as well as help you with any questions that you may have.

As always, I hope you all have a wonderful day. If you haven’t checked out my blog about the hardest parts about going to grad school (link here), I suggest checking that out. Until next time, peace!

Best Grad School Memes

Today, I want to share some very relatable grad school memes. I have written about jokes and includes memes before. Go check out that post. (link here). The internet is an absolutely wonderful place full of ideas, creativity, knowledge, and, of course, memes. I am sure that your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anything is full of memes. So today, I want to share some of my favorite memes that relate to grad school. These can be relatable in every day life as well.

Admit it, you love memes more than really anything on the internet. I love sending and receiving them. Heck, I have even made a few. They are amazing and definitely great to just get lost for hours on the internet looking them up.

So, let me share some of my all time grad school memes with you.

Favorite Grad School Memes

This one is highly relatable, especially this week

grad school meme
Lisa Matthies-Barnes

grad school memes
Victoria Zhong

Time for a quick break because I am actually crying a bit. Not really because these are so funny, more so that I can really, really relate.

Ok, Breaks over, let us continue seeing more graduate school memes.

grad student memes
Emman Morelos Mabulay
funny grad school meme
Emman Morelos Mabulay
funny grad school meme
Benjamin Miller
best grad school meme
Gracie Rose

I love this grad school meme. I have like five or six “final drafts” for everything. It’s pretty ridiculous lol.

best of grad school meme
Josh Morrison
 grad school memes
Jessie Li

Time for another break. How’s your day going so far? So far, my day has been pretty good. Anyway, let’s continue on with a few more memes.

This next one is me during summer.

best grad school memes
Jamie Molotov
 grad school meme
Zeta Schuijt-Koorndijk
best grad school meme
Samantha Anne-Marie Curlee III
best grad school meme
Hamza Dudgeon

The last one for the day.

grad school meme
Tzefira Jones

Final Thoughts

How does my collection of graduate school memes hold up? Did you enjoy them? Would you want to see more in the future? If so, let me know in the comments. If you haven’t checked out the rest of my blog, go ahead and check it out. I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next one.

The Hardest Parts About Going to Grad School

I promise you guys that I will have a happier post coming soon. Some of my posts have been a bit negative. I know this because I was called out for it lol. Today, we are going to continue on this course of negativity dealing with the hardest parts of grad school. I wrote about whether or not grad school was hard (link here). This one is going to be about the hardest parts that you may not really know about now, just starting off. Give it some time and you’ll relate more to this post lol.

This post is for grad students (sorry undergrads). Undergrad students may not feel this way because their set up is a bit different. In undergrad, you really focused on how to pass tests. It wasn’t until senior year that I really knew how to apply anything that I had learned for the past 5 years. Grad school is a bit different so the struggles may not be relatable for undergrad years. However, if you are an undergrad thinking about grad school, primarily a MS degree or a PhD, then this post is for you as well.

Hardest Parts about a Master’s Degree

Lists!!!! Lists!!!! LISTTTTTTSSSS! Oh man do I love them. Today, we are going to see many lists, because it’s easy to just see the struggles in that form than reading it in a paragraph! So, for now, I want to focus on the struggles that you will have in a master’s degree then I will go into PhD and then we can compare them both. How does that sound? I promise you that I will make an article on the best things about grad school. There are plenty of great things. Today will be the hardest parts of grad school. So, let’s discuss the hardest parts of a master’s degree right know.

1) There will be more writing than you have ever done in your life.

Writing is a huge an important step in becoming an academic. Grad school is all about honing your writing skills and being able to take very complex ideas and tone it down enough to where anyone can understand it. Writing is one of those skills that you will learn in a master’s that will benefit you for a lifetime.

2) You will feel extremely dumb

Remember in high school when you were one of the “smart kids”? Well, now you are with the smart kids from every other high school/college. You may come across an individual who is just out of this world intelligent. It will make you feel a bit dumb. Also, the work you will be doing is much more complex than in undergrad. In science, the stuff that I was dealing with in my master’s courses were things that people still didn’t have answers for. This may make you feel really dumb, when in fact, you are actually very bright. Trust me, everyone feels dumb in grad school.

3) Chegg and online resources won’t help you now

As I mentioned before, you will be dealing with concepts and ideas that people don’t have the answers to. The classes you take will not have the answers online. Chegg and other online homework helpers were great in undergrad but are useless in master’s coursework. This may make things way harder for you because you won’t know if you were right or wrong until you get your paper or homework back. Heck, sometimes the professor doesn’t even have the answer lol. I have had classes like this.

4) Your friends will change

I think one of the hardest parts of grad school and, well college, is the fact that your friends will come and go. I started my master’s knowing a ton of grad students and became very good friends with them. Since everyone is on their own timeline, you will often lose many friends to graduation or moving to do a doctorate elsewhere. This will bring some very lonely times and it can definitely be hard. Plus, finding time for friends can be difficult in a master’s program which might hurt any potential relationships with people.

5) Still broke

You might not be making any money at all in a master’s program. This means more loans and eating ramen 5 nights a week. A master’s does go by fairly quick so don’t worry. You will not be poor for the rest of your life lol. Unfortunately, you will be a bit broke during this phase but that can be a good thing. You will learn how to manage money better. See, I can write nice things.

6) You may have to actually do research as well

Some programs require you to do a ton of research as well. These usually pay you, from my experience. Research can make things so much difficult. Understanding what is going on and helping to develop solutions to problems is a bit of a headache. This is one of hardest parts of grad school, in my opinion.

7) The work demand is insane for classes

As I mentioned above, you will be writing and doing problems that are difficult and may not have solutions. This will make your classwork harder. The demand from your professors is insane and stressful at times. Towards the end of the semester, you may have three, 15 page essays to write, on top of exams and homework’s. The homework’s in most of my classes were much longer than the undergrads . You may also have research on top of the classwork, so you’ll be extra busy.

Hardest Parts about a PhD

So, in this section, I will talk about the things that are hardest during a PhD. Some may overlap with a Master’s degree and that’s fine. Getting a PhD means you are contributing to research in a very very very tiny way. You are contributing a very small amount of knowledge to the world, but that’s pretty darn cool. Of course, a PhD is not for everyone and will be one of the hardest things you do, depending on many factors of course. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, you will feel dumb doing a doctorate. It is a learning experience and technically an apprenticeship. It’s not like undergrad where you pass classes. No, you actually have to contribute to the world. Anyway, Here is a list of the hardest parts of a PhD, from my experience.

1) You have to contribute to science

I am currently trying to contribute a very small piece of information to the overall knowledge of my field and it is hard. Holy cow it is hard because you are the one solving a sometimes very difficult yet simplistic problem. One of the problems I am trying to figure out with my data is why my pH drops. You can just say that it’s from an acid being added to the water, but I am adding base to my lead pipes. It is a silly problem but an important one, especially in the field of water chemistry. Contributing some small form of knowledge is what a PhD is all about. This is also what makes it difficult.

2) You will lose many friends

As I mentioned above in the hard parts of a master’s, you will lose friends like crazy, or at least not see your friends for a very long time. Graduation will take many of them from you and so will not being able to see them because your focus is on research. My friends have decreased each year since undergrad, but that’s life. The friends that I do still have are amazing and in my life for a reason. Don’t go thinking that losing fiends is a bad thing. it can be quite good but it is a hard part about grad school. You will definitely learn to live by yourself and be anti social. But afterwards, you’ll make friends again. I promise that.

3) Long nights in the lab and not really getting the results you want

This is definitely a hard part about doing a PhD. You will read papers on your research that points to an outcome that you are hoping for. You probably won’t get those outcomes. Then, You try again. You still won’t get the outcome you want. You’ll continue until the next thing you know, it’s 2 am and you’re just now leaving the lab after a failed experiment. Even the ghost that haunts the lab wants you to leave. This happens to everyone, even tenured professors. This is also exciting because you are able to learn how not to fail. You are becoming a researcher during this practice! It just is very hard when you have to put a ton of hours into it.

4) Advisers demanding much more than you can handle

You a cheap labor. Admit it, you are cheap labor in the academic field. This means that your adviser will take full advantage of this and work you hard. They may even give you more work than you can handle. It’s hard. In fact, it’s so hard that it’s on this list lol. All you can really do is talk with your adviser and voice your concerns. You can probably handle the majority of the work. But sometimes, they want you to do even more. For example, the other PhD student that I share an office with has to write 2, yes 2, literature reviews!! My literature review took me 2 years to do and she has to write 2? This might be too much to handle. Luckily, she just started her doctorate so she has a long time to complete both lol.

5) You’re very poor

Yes, you will get paid, but not much. If you happen to do the math and determine the amount you get paid hourly over the hours of work, you’ll see that you are paid less than minimum wage. You’ll be poor and this is very, very hard to deal with in grad school. Many PhDs take 5 to 8 years to finish. Imagine living paycheck to paycheck for that amount of time. That can be very stressful.

6) Peer review

Most doctorate programs have you publishing at least one paper and going through the peer review process. Many institutions have you writing multiple papers and going through the peer review process to get published. It is hard.. The reviewers will pick out every flaw in your research and make you reevaluate your life. I went through it once and have to go through it again. The first time was rough, the second might be rougher, but I am desensitized to literally all criticism now. It is a hard process to get through but a really important one. This process prevents “bad science” from getting out there. Of course, sometimes some bad articles squeak by, but not as often as you think.

7) The stupid qualifying exam

I have many choice words when it comes to what I think about the qualifying exam. If you want to read more about my experience or what your experience will be like, here are a few links to those articles. The qualifying exam was the most stressful and hardest parts of my doctorate so far. I had to come up with a proposal, write it, present it, and get tested on it. It took me like 2 months to see if I could continue my studies and do research. If I didn’t pass, I would have had one more try before being kicked out of the program. Not a fun time. This is hard because it is your first hurdle towards graduation. Once you pass this, you can call yourself a doctoral candidate. Things don’t necessarily get easier after the qualifying exam, but at least you know you’ll probably graduate.

8) Seeing your friends, colleagues, and literally everyone advance in their careers or go on vacation and you can’t

I have many friends that are making 6 figures. Some are starting companies, and other’s are enjoying their weekends in another country. All while I spend my weekends and days doing the same thing, over and over, making pennies compared to them. This is hard to see. You will feel like you are behind in life. Trust me, that feeling of being behind can cause you to want to leave. The hardest part about this is saying “I am in it for the long haul and will finish”. Yes, you probably can leave and have a fulfilling career. You probably will make a ton of money right away since you’ll have a master’s , but you have to tell yourself no. Don’t end it just because you see your friends doing things that you want to do.

9) No one understands what your doing.

I left this as the last one, for hardest things about grad school. You are going to go through a ton of hardships trying to et data and results that are pertinent to your research. You will celebrate your wins abut other’s really won’t know why. Most people don’t really relate to what you do in grad school and they don’t realize that a huge win is just getting the pH probe to work lol. Family members won’t understand the strains that go into grad school and your friends won’t understand it either.

Your research won’t be earth shattering. It might just be a very small project that is somewhat insignificant, but it means the world to you. You are the only one that really cares and getting extra support is almost non-existent. I find this to be one of the hardest parts of grad school and PhD. People just won’t understand, and you know what? That’s ok. Celebrate your small and large wins. Those will lead to bigger things later.

The 3 hardest parts of grad school

So let me break it down into 3 of the hardest parts about grad school. These are the hardest things that come from the overall experience. Many things will be hard, but these are the hardest that I , and my friends, have experienced.

  1. You’re very, very poor. Financial struggle is a hard part about grad school that we all face.
  2. You are a little fish in a very large pond, maybe even an ocean. You will feel tiny ad insignificant.
  3. Life will pass by and you will be doing the same thing. This has really affected my lately, but I am almost done!

YEs, grad school has been one of the hardest things that I have done, but not the hardest. There are many things that are difficult and you will experience most f them. Keep going, it is 100% worth it and you will have a degree after that is worth much more than you know. If you do a doctorate, you’ll be a doctor! That’s pretty awesome.

Final Thoughts

These are the hardest parts of grad school that I have experienced. Let me know if you agree or disagree with these and why? I am curious to know other people’s opinions on this subject. As always, I hope you all have a wonderful ay and week. I will see you all in the next blog post. Peace!

You ARE Good Enough (Round 2)

I want to apologize to everyone. before we talk about why you are good enough, I want to discuss something. If you have been reading my blog lately, you have probably noticed that I have become focused on key ideas and key words. If you are familiar with google (you probably are), you know about page placement and rankings. The more content or better, the higher my ranking on search pages. This is an SEO (search engine optimization) approach that I have been doing.

I want to say that I am sorry because I lost a bit of connection with my readers and was so focused on ranking high, but not for greed. I am hoping to get these ideas and tips out to the population and I strongly feel like I have helpful info for those but it is hard to spread that without focusing on ranking higher on the search pages.

This is why I started focusing on a different writing style. I may continue this, but I do want to get back to just blogging for you guys, and not only for the masses.

You are good enough, repeat that 5X

Lately, I have been hearing a ton of “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not good enough” from many grad students that I have been around. I have even said this multiple times recently, and that’s not right. First off, you ARE good enough! You have done amazing things and will do even more amazing things. Grad school and college are hard! This might be one of the reasons you feel this way. You have become a small fish in a big pond and it is terrifying.

Every single great scholar has been in your position. There are a select few that might not have felt like they weren’t good enough, but that’s like 4 people lol. Everyone else has felt bad at least a million times but they all turned out to do amazing things. SO, whatever you are going through right now, know that you can make it through this and you’re only growing from this experience.

Final Thoughts

I hope you guys have an awesome day. I know that this is a short blog but sometimes that’s what you have to write. Keep up the amazing work that you have done. If you want to ask me questions or anything (maybe send me some money lol), my email is benswaringen@yahoo.com.

How to Deal With Grad School Stress?

Have you ever asked yourself why things are the way that they are? Like, why do we have to drive on the right side of the road? Or, why is it that you can’t just eat only one brownie when a plate is left in front of you? These are questions that keep me up at night. One of the things that I question and want to really get down to the core about is why is grad school so stressful? Does it have to be stressful? Why is there even stress in grad school? I thought we were done with that in undergrad. Today, I want to touch on this subject and possibly answer why grad school is stressful and what we can do about it.

Main Reasons for Grad School Stress

There are going to be a ton of reasons in grad school to feel stressed. Some are normal and some might not be. Do not worry though. You will get out of grad school alive and well, potentially a bit insane, but we can work on that later. Grad school is a stressful time but also a great time in your life. I want to discuss some of the reasons for stress and also want to discuss ways you can reduce this stress.

1) The workload is too much

I think that this is the main cause of stress in grad school. The first two years of a program will be heavy with coursework and maybe a few experiments here and there. This will be a bit overwhelming at first because you might not be used to this workload. For some individuals, undergrad was a cake walk and then they decided to go to grad school. The first assignment you have might be a 10 page analysis on the origins of life or something like that. If you come from a major that was easy, you can see how grad school might kick your butt at first. Many majors that were hard just stay right on track with the level of difficulty. Engineering, for example, is the same thig but you’ll probably write a bit more in your classes.

You will have a smaller course load than undergrad but you will be plenty busy. In grad school, the professors expect you to work, and work hard. You’ll get plenty of assignments to do on top of your lab work. This can definitely be extremely stressful and anxiety inducing.

2) You may not have any support

I think a huge part of stress in grad school is doing research alone. You don’t really have the support of others because, frankly, they have no idea what you even do. You will be alone most of the time and that can be stressful and a bit depressing. Stressful, because you end up putting way too much pressure on yourself, and depressing, because, well, you’re alone. These two, mixed together, is a dangerous concoction.

Not having the support of others can make the whole experience super stressful. As I said above, you’ll start pushing yourself harder and harder and just stressing yourself out because you don’t have anyone to tell you that it’s good enough. I wish this wasn’t a thing in grad school and I wish people didn’t encourage pushing yourself that hard as well.

3) You won’t have a lot of time to interact and make friends

Sure, you will make friends, I wrote an article on how to (here), but you might not be as social as you were in undergrad. You may also find it a bit difficult to make friends. That just adds to the stress already built up. I found that not having a support group (aka friends) made it hard to vent and release some pent of stress from school. You may also feel stressed trying to get friends as well. No one wants to feel lonely while spending 5+ years in a grad program.

You will feel stressed to find friends and that can make things very hard for you in grad school. There are many ways to help to relieve this stress which I will talk about later in this post.

4) Financial Stress

Grad school stress is brought on by a ton of different things and I think financial stress is one of the big reasons for it. There is so much uncertainty in grad school and you might not know if you’ll be able to afford to eat next week. You don’t get paid that much in grad school, and holding a part-time job during can be almost impossible. I have written a ton about how to make money in grad school, but it doesn’t help that much with the stress. You might be adding even more stress to your experience because you are working extra to pay bills.

You’re practically poor in grad school and that’s just how it is, unfortunately. We are apprentices so they don’t have to really pay us more, since we are “learning the trade”. Many of us have families to take care of and loved ones. So, money can be a problem. Once I figure a sure-fire way to not be poor, I’ll let you guys know. Until then, we just carry on.

What to do to Deal With Grad School Stress?

There are many things that I discuss on my website about dealing with stress. In fact, the main reason for the blog was how to be mindful and reduce the hardships of grad school. Check out my other blogs (here) for more incite. Anyway, let’s discuss a few ways in which we can reduce grad school stress and potentially thrive off it.

1) Get organized.

This is such a simple thing as well as highly effective. It is so easy to just have papers all around, no planner whatsoever, and nothing to keep your organized. This can make it harder to get things done due to clutter as well as make things very stressful due to lack of organization. First, get yourself a planner so write down all deadlines and what to do everyday. Next, clean your desk. The more clutter, the more likely you misplace something important. Organization will make it easy to find things you need and you won’t feel as overwhelmed by clutter. The planner will keep you on top of assignments and deadlines.

The first thing that I did when I was overwhelmed with work was writing everything down in my planner. I saw how much work I need to do and when it was due. This allowed me to schedule my days to work on assignments exclusively and my productivity increased drastically. I also decluttered my desk and actually found some pretty important documents! Yay to decluttering.

2) Make sure to take breaks

I wrote the other day about how to prevent burnout. Constant stress in grad school can most definitely lead to burnout and a potential mental breakdown. When overly stressed, you need to take a moment and just relax. Meditate for like 15 minutes or go on a long walk. Get away from work for a while and things will get better. You may just be caught up in the moment and feel overwhelmed. After a nice little break, you might find clarity and realize that it’s not that bad.

Breaks will also prevent chronic stress from happening. This will make your grad school experience terrible and you do not want that. Remember that relaxation and rest are key components to productivity and stress reduction.

3) Seek out help

I think this is a very important way to reduce stress, yet people often don’t do it. It is amazing how reaching out to someone for help will alleviate so much stress in your life. If you are feeling overwhelmed with school, reach out to a professor or adviser and ask them for advice. May reach out to the professor of the courses you take and ask for an extension if you are feeling overwhelmed. They will most likely help you out. If you are really struggling, reach out to your friends and family for support. They will gladly help.

There are many places on campus where you can reach out to reduce stress. Study groups, student health centers, and tutoring places. All free to grad students. Take full advantage of these to help and reduce the overwhelming feelings you get in grad school.

4) Learn to shop deals

Things are getting pricey these days (thanks inflation), which will make financial burdens worse. One way to deal with this is shop deals. Take full advantage of being a student and look for student discounts. If you like music, Spotify has a monthly subscription for students that’s $5.99 and include premium Spotify and also Hulu. If you love Amazon, apply for their student program for a discounted Amazon prime membership. You will soon realize that you don’t have to deprive yourself of luxuries in life if you shop deals and use student discounts. Do this will keep money in your bank account and financial stress away.

Sometimes money can get really tight in grad school. You may even need to take out loans. This is fine as long as it helps to reduce that burden. Taking loans out is scary, but sometimes necessary to make sure to finish your degree. Take out loans only if you absolutely need to. Interest rates for paying them back can be high.

5) Exercise Please!

Everyone knows that exercise is a great stress reliever. So, why don’t we do it more? Well, people are so overwhelmed with stuff that they may be too tired or they just don’t have time to do it. We need to incorporate exercise into our life to make sure that stress doesn’t get the best of us. Take a look at this article by May Clinic. They go over all the different ways in which exercise helps you manage stress. Some of these include improving mood, reducing the negative effects of stress, as well as pumping up your endorphins. Really, guys and gals, go exercise. Heck, just go on a walk. That will make things a lot better for you.

6) Reduce Grad School Stress By Having Fun

Last, but certainly not least, have fun. Make grad school a fun experience. Try and have fun with work and make that a fun experience too. You’ll notice that your stress will probably come from how you perceive doing something. You may feel more stressed if you have to do something that you don’t find fun. Try and make those things fun by turning them into a game or giving yourself a prize for completing it. This will reduce the stress from doing it.

Final Thoughts

Grad school stress is terrible. You may feel more stressed than ever, especially towards the end. Try to combat these feelings if you can. It will make the whole 2 to 8 years way easier and quite enjoyable.

For those in grad school or those that have finished, how did you reduce stress or deal with it while you were doing your studies? Let us know in the comments. Thanks.

Tips For Grad School

This post about tips for grad school may contains affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

I figured that the best thing to do, at this stage in my academic profession, is give more advice to younger grad students. So, today I want to share some of the best tips that I can come up with alone with tips that I have been told throughout the 5.5 years while in grad school. I will try and make them different than my “hacks” links to that article here. These are tips that I feel will help you survive grad school as well as thrive as a graduate student.

Before we get into the best tips for grad school, I just want to congratulate you on deciding to even think about grad school. It is a very tough decision, but well worth it. I think one of the best things that I have done for myself and my future career is to dive right into grad school. I have already received a Master’s and (hopefully very soon) a doctorate. It’s tough, and I hope that does not discourage you from chasing your dreams.

Person in Black Pants and Black Shoes Sitting on Brown Wooden Chair

Let’s get right into the 10 best tips for grad school

1) Go To Class

You would be surprised how many people just go to grad school to slip right back into their undergrad ways. You should be taking courses that will help you advance your career and studies. This can only be achieved if you actively go to class. Sure, skipping some classes might be essential, especially if you have to finish a homework assignment. But for the most part, you need to go to class. You will learn and retain so much more information. Also, going to class will ensure you pass the course and continue on with your degree.

tips for grad school : go to class

2) Get to know your professors

The best resources that you have, besides the library, are professors. They are your gateway to a successful academic career by providing you with all the skills and help you need. They know the struggles of grad school and know how hard it can be and how demanding it can get. Fortunately, most, not all, are will to help you navigate your way through school. They are also great to have as references for jobs later on. Get to know your professors. They might get you a job or research position after college.

Woman Sitting on Brown Wooden Chair Beside Coconut

3) Take time away from studies to relax and have fun.

I cannot stress the importance of rest enough. Grad school may have you working your butt off. Some times I will be in y office for 14 to 16 hours just working away and forget to even eat. This can and probably will happen to you. You know what comes with working 14 hour days, 7 days in a row? I’ll tell you, it’s called burn-out and it is awful. Plus, grad school is going to be a sizeable chunk of your life, so do you want to spend the entire time working? If the answer is yes, well I can’t really help you lol. But most people will say no. By resting, you can reset your bidy and actually become more productive. Also, I find that resting is when I come up with my best ideas.

tips for grad school: exercise often

4) Stay active while in grad school

Join a club, join a sports league, just stay active. This helps significantly end your day and transition into your “non-academic life”. I joined a kickball league, so my Wednesday nights are dedicated to that. It takes me away from my work so I can interact with other people. Also, has helped me make friends, reduce my stress levels, and control my anxiety. It is also a great way to exercise. That’s another part of staying active, exercise! If you are hesitant to start, I say start slowly with a walking challenge. I, also, suggest taking a look at my fitness page for more ideas. Studies have shown the benefits of exercise on student’s. Take full advantage of that.

tips for grad school :learn to cook

5) Learn how to cook

The fastest way to lose all of your money and get bad eating habits would be to eat out all of the time. I get it, fast food is convenient and tasty. Yes, but it is expensive and can be unhealthy. I do love buying McDonalds every once in a while, though. Eating out is good in moderation, just don’t do it all of the time. One really good tip is to learn how to cook and in bulk. Rice, chicken, and vegetables is a healthy and very cheap meal. I bought a rice cooker, like this one. Don’t get me started on how you need a rice cooker in your life lol. Anyway, I will make brown rice, cook some vegetables up, and add chicken. Get your favorite hot sauce and you have a cheap and pretty healthy meal. Make this in bulk and bring it to your office the next day.

Also, cooking is a great way to make friends too. You can invite people over for a dinner which will definitely impress them. Going out to dinner can be costly, but having a spaghetti dinner for 2 to 10 can be way cheaper and fun . You will impress the heck out of them.

Person in Yellow and Black Backpack Walking on Green Grass Field Under Cloudy Blue Sky during Daytime

6) Find a way to get to class other than driving.

If you live close to campus, the best way, that I find to get to class, is by walking. It is great exercise and gives me a time to just, be. Life can be quite much sometimes but all those worries tend to just subside during that 30 minute walk to campus. I wrote about the ways that grad students can get to class. You should go and check it out here. There are so many different ways to get to class though. Scootering is fun, walking, biking, running?, literally any way you want. But one thing I advise against, unless you live millions of miles away, is driving yourself to campus. There are so many resources available like busses to get you to campus. Use these resources because it will save you the hassle of buying a parking pass, finding parking, and paying for gas.

Man in Gray Long Sleeve Shirt Lying on Bed

7) If you are having trouble, reach out.

One of the best parts of grad school is the amount of help you can get. I said above about professors helping, well, they are not the only resource. There are so many resources that can help you with any problem that you have. One of the things you will find in grad school is that you will need help with something. This can be with school, your health, how to cook, you need help with peer review, etc. There are resources for those. In fact, I can be one of your resources too. ‘

The best resource that I had was being able to see a therapist. This was included in my insurance. I hope this is included in yours as well because it is a great opportunity. If you are wondering what my experience was, check out my blog about it. But, just know that there are so many resources available and you really need to take advantage of them. They are there to help you.

tips for grad school: back up your computer

8) Back up your computer and files often

I can not stress this enough. Have a back up of everything that you do. Accidents do happen and life brings a ton of curveballs. I have had work just disappear all of a sudden. My buddy had his hard drive crash and it was going to cost him $700 to extract what was on it. Back up your work!!!!! Honestly, this may be the best tip you see on this list. You will write a lot of stuff and have a ton of data. You do not want to lose months or even years of data because your computer died on you. Also, fun fact, coffee will absolutely destroy your computer if spilled on. So, please get a way to back up your stuff. It may save you years of work.

tips for grad school: write every day

9) Write everyday!

I have written about the importance of writing. You can go and check it out here. Anyway, you will spend a ton of time writing and you should. Grad school consists of this huge thing called a thesis. It’s big, it’s scary, and you’ll have to write it. But, if you take my advice right now, and write everyday, you will see it’s really not that bad. In fact, you might even write it in much less time than you though. Writing is like practice. The more you do it, the better you get and easier it is. Many people in grad school don’t write enough which dulls their ability to write. Sharpen those skills by writing each day and it will make life so much easier later on. 1000 words seems so achievable if you have been doing it every day. It seems almost impossible is you haven’t written in a while, though.

tips for grad school: live in the moment

10) Live in the moment, not the future

I want to finish this list with a favorite tip for grad school . I often find myself thinking about what needs to be done or what the next day has for me and often forget that all that I have guaranteed in my life is the moment that I am in. Sometimes the best way to reduce stress and anxiety is just focus on the now. Yes, there may be deadlines looming, but those aren’t here yet. Focus on what you can do right now and less of what needs to get done. My therapist told me to focus on the now. I spend a ton of time worrying about the future and don’t really take advantage of what’s going on in the moment. Take some time out of your day to just focus on what’s going on around you. You will find that anxiety subsides and you gain some clarity. You don’t know what the future holds, so why worry about it?

Final Thoughts

Here are some of the 10 best tips for grad school that I can come up with to help you in grad school. These tips have helped me a ton and I guarantee they will help you too. I really hope your grad school experience is great and let me know some other tips in the comment. As always, I hope you have a great day and week.

What I am Grateful For in Grad School

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit down. I think it’s because of the effects that I have from having Covid, though. Is anyone else feeling a bit sad/depressed/anxious after having Covid? It could just be me, though. Anyway, to lighten my mood, I thought about all of the things that I am grateful for in grad school. I wrote an article about the things that I am most grateful for. You can read that post here.

Today I want to talk about the things that I am grateful for in grad school, specifically. I think a list would do just nicely in this situation, don’t you think? So, let’s get right into it and talk about the things that I am most grateful for in my grad school program.

Silver-colored Heart Lock Bridge

What I am Grateful For

1) Lab partners

Having a good and reliable lab partner can be everything. There are many times where just having someone there has made all the difference whether it is having them do something with your project or just having someone to talk to. I have had some excellent lab partners in the past and I always look forward to being able to work on an experiment with someone else.

2) Having Reliable lab equipment.

I currently work in like 6 or 7 different labs, each with pieces of lab equipment that I desperately need to do my job currently. I am grateful that these pieces of lab equipment actually work and are reliable. A day where things don’t work can set me back weeks, which is something I don’t want, nor my adviser.

3) Fume Hoods

Having a good fume hood can literally save your life. I work with a ton of strong acids that are not healthy to breathe in. Fume hoods have saved me from breathing in the fumes from the acids. Also, fun fact, if you mix galvanized iron with nitric acid, it produces some crazy gases. I was very thankful that the fume hood stopped me from being exposed to those gases!

4) My office

My office is my home away from home. I have quite a few things in here that actually make people think that I live here. I mean, I spend most of my time in my office, so I want it as comfortable as possible. If I could live here, I would lol. I share my office with one other person, though, we have room for 3 more. Having the extra room really helps.

5) Having a reliable computer

You really need a reliable computer while in grad school. Having one will make all of the difference. Luckily, my computer is reliable, and fairly new, so I am extremely grateful for that. I honestly don’t know what I would do if my computer just didn’t work one day…probably just give up and apply for my master’s lol.

Man Doing A Sample Test In The Laboratory
6) Other PhD Students

Being in a PhD program can get extremely lonely. I am fortunate to have an office mate. Having other student’s to talk to and complain to can be very therapeutic. Most people don’t understand the mental struggles that can occur in grad school, so having someone to talk to that understands can be everything. Also, bouncing ideas off other grad students can lead to new discoveries or ideas that you didn’t have before.

7) Having the support of my family and friends

If it wasn’t for my family and friends, I would have left a very long time ago. You need the extra motivation to finish the degree. I am extremely grateful for the love and support provided by my family and friends. They truly have helped me to be the best I can be.

8) The faculty and staff of my college

The college of Environmental Engineering at UF has some of the nicest, most intelligent, and most qualified individuals working here. It is always so nice to walk down the hall and be able to have a conversation with a professor or staff member. I am always asked how things are going and they are always so willing to help me when I am having trouble. I truly appreciate everyone in this department.

9) My committee members

I have a great committee. I did choose them and thought very hard about who will be on the committee and how they will help me become a better researcher. I am super appreciative of them and how they have molded me into the PhD candidate I am today. Each one is a master at what they do and they have really shown me the best ways to do independent research. They are also in charge of graduating me so I have to say nice things :P.

Scientist in Laboratory
10) Having a ton of labs to work in

I have one lab that I primarily work in, but I do have a bunch of other’s that I spend time in. Having access to so many labs and resources has helped my research significantly. Plus, most, not all, my labs are clean and fairly decent sized lol. Having a clean and big lab can make a huge difference.

Final Thoughts

I like to show my gratitude for things in my life. I truly think it makes you a kinder person and that is what I strive to be. I wanted to share the many things that I am grateful for in my grad school experience. There are many more things that I am grateful for, but that will be for another blog post. Today, I wanted to share the 10 things that i am most grateful for in my grad school journey. I hope you found these interesting. Let me know what things you are grateful for in grad school or just what you are grateful for in general. I would love to read about them in the comments. Also, if you haven’t read my blog about accepting uncertainty, you can go check it out (here).

I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next one.

Should You Get a Master’s or PhD?

Going to graduate school is a huge commitment. You are essentially putting off making money to extend your college years. Of course, it is much more than just that. Grad school is about learning more about complex problems and getting ready to tackle these problems when you eventually leave. So the question is, what grad degree do I want? A Master’s or a PhD?

This blog post will primary deal with research grad degrees. There are many professional doctorate degrees that you can get, but I won’t really touch on them. These include degrees in law and medicine. Here is a good reference to see the other professional degrees that are out there. I honestly didn’t know there were so many. I want to deal with either getting a master’s degree or going for the prestigious PhD! Actually, a master’s is pretty prestigious as well.

Person Holding White Scroll

Which to choose?

This question should be on everyone’s mind when applying to grad school. What do I want to do and how will a graduate degree help me in the future? These questions are actually much harder than you think to answer because things change. One day, you may just want to make a ton of money so you apply for a master’s to get a pay increase. Another day, you want to work on really cool research for the rest of your life so you think “maybe a PhD is the right path for me!” I have been in both scenarios, so I know how difficult it can get.

First off, you need to decide what your ultimate goal is. For engineering, getting a PhD is almost overkill. Rarely do you see engineers getting doctorates unless they want to teach or do research. Many companies turn away engineers for getting a doctorate. It’s sad, but true. This is why getting a master’s in engineering is way more common than getting a PhD. You will get a pay increase and won’t really be turned away from engineering projects. But say, you are a biologist, getting a doctorate may lead to you become the lab manager at a well funded laboratory. Getting a master’s in biology won’t cut it, so you can see how you need to decide on your ultimate goal to make the decision for you. Find what you’re goal is and that can help decide what is best.

1 Us Dollar Bill

For the money

If you are in it for the money, I would say it’s probably best, in many cases, to just go for a master’s degree. Master’s degrees are usually 1 to 2 years of coursework and then you are free to call yourself a master :). You can often find that many jobs require a master’s degree and you’ll definitely have a competitive edge on everyone else. Plus, a master’s in some fields will get you a huge pay increase compared to just having a bachelor’s.

Going for a PhD may not be the most lucrative. Yes, you will get paid while in grad school, but hardly enough to survive. Some fields, such as engineering show that getting a PhD won’t really make you much more than having a master’s. Here is an article that shows the difference in pay for bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and PhDs. You can see in the table that many times getting a master’s degree is worth it for money and many times getting a PhD is better. Heck, sometimes just having a bachelor’s was enough.

I would say, if you are going for the money, getting a master’s is enough. Going for a PhD requires a lot more than passing exams and doing it for the money may cause you to be disappointed later on. There are other reasons to do a PhD that will be discussed.

Close-up Photo of Survey Spreadsheet

For the Love of Research

If you are like me, you love, love, love research. I mean, I am constantly thinking about it, sometimes even when I am actively trying not to. If you have this mindset, a PhD is the right path for you, 100%. a PhD is all about pushing the boundary of knowledge and learning how to do independent research. A master’s can also accomplish this too, but often it is so fast that you don’t learn all of the skills you need to be a successful researcher.

This is a great path to go on if you absolutely love the field that you are in. You kind of need to love the field you are in so you don’t absolutely hate the next few years of researching that topic. If you don’t absolutely love the field you are in, I would highly suggest that you do not do a PhD. There is a reason why I have a whole blog on how to go through a doctorate program and reduce the effects and chances of a mental illness. It is hard work and exhausting.

Close Up Photo of a Person Wearing Suit Jacket

Your Career

What type of career do you want? Do you want to work in the academic field or maybe you want to do industry work? So for an academic job, especially being a professor, you’ll need your doctorate. If you want to just be a teacher, getting a master’s is perfectly fine and encouraged. The more education and knowledge, hopefully the better teacher you become. Also, if you want to teach at a community college, you will need at least a master’s.

Say you want to do industry work, a master’s is completely fine. You will find many job postings that you will be perfect for. Getting a PhD may be overkill for some jobs, as stated earlier. Also, getting a PhD may close the doors for some jobs that you may have wanted to do. It doesn’t mean that you can’t work in industry if you have a PhD, you will just be working on some other jobs. Some of these jobs you didn’t know existed.

Final Thoughts

For those that have gone to grad school, what degree did you get and what was the reason you went for that specific degree. For me, getting a doctorate was the right choice for me because I want to go into the research field after college. I tried engineering but research really stood out to me.

As always, I hope everyone found this blog to be insightful or at least just fun to read. If you haven’t read my blog about feeling stuck while doing experiments, go check it out here.

It is OK to Slow Down

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

Grad school, a wonderful time where you are running around, doing crazy amounts of things day after day, only to receive a piece of paper. Of course grad school is not just this. It is a learning experience and a chance to grow as a scholar. Yes, some things in grad school may not make sense as to why you need to do them. But in the end, you will be a much better researcher/scholar/whatever you become :).

Man Showing Wristwatch

One thing that I notice is how busy college tends to get. You will have exams, research projects, sports, clubs, homework assignments, outside work, the list goes on and on. It is busy. I remember undergrad used to be extremely busy. The biggest complaint I heard was how busy the semester was for everyone and how little fun they would have. Everyone justified it by saying what they were doing was a “resume builder.” Honestly, I hated this phrase and wish it would go away. No, we were all busy because we wanted to feel important and feared that we would miss out on things.

I am not trying to bash on being busy, though. I love the feeling of being busy, but when I am productive. Some people like to keep themselves busy for the sake of being busy, getting nothing done in the process. I don’t really like this. Now some people really are busy. The individuals getting ready to graduate or the ones trying to get volunteering experience to get into med school have great justifications. Some people just stay busy because they like the feeling. This is ok but sometimes it is really just fine to slow down. In fact, I highly encourage a slower lifestyle if you can.

Black Tortoise Standing

Why Slow Down

The older I get, the more I realize that staying busy and cramming as much as I can into as little time as possible is not sustainable. I like to enjoy things and not rush through them. Sometimes, I overschedule myself and find myself doing multiple different things during the day, while worrying about the next thing I have to do. This causes a great deal of frustration, honestly. Slowing down can help pne enjoy the task or thing that is happening at that moment.

Slowing down can help to cause less confusion, feelings of anxiety, and can lead to far less stress. The most stressful times in anyone’s life is during a time when a ton of things are happening that seem to be out of control. Notice that the most stressed individuals are the ones that cram so much into such little time. Slowing down, taking things off your to-do list, and relaxing are sure-fire ways to live a stress free lifestyle.

Slow Signage

How can I Slow Down?

“But Ben, how can I slow down in grad school? It’s always so busy!” Well, I have a few ways in which you can slow down, but you may not like hearing (reading) about them lol. So, let’s discuss some of the many ways in which you can slow down in grad school, in list form!!! Woohoo.

1) Say “no” more often

One of the best ways to slow down is to just stop saying “yes” to everything that people ask you. You are very valuable in the academic scene. Technically, you are seen as cheap labor, so many people may come to you and ask you to do extra work or write a paper. They may even entice you with your name on the publication. If you can’t do the work for them, you are allowed to say “no”. It is not the end of the world.

Woman in White and Black Dress Standing Beside Glass Window

2) Reduce time on your phone.

Much of our time these days is spent on our phones. One way to slow down and get some more time to relax is by just turning off your phone. Social media, text messages, emails, and other apps can make us feel overwhelmed. Our phones can keep us busy for hours on end, taking time away from things that truly matter like getting other work done, or even just spending time with another individual. It’s time to be ok with turning off your phone.

Notebook

3) Make to-do lists

One great way to slow down is to make a to-do list of everything that needs to get done that day. Then, start reducing the size of that list. We often make lists that are unattainable. I know all of my to-do lists have about 100 things on them, yet I can only manage to get 3 to 4 done a day. Make a list of essential things then subtract other things that are not as important. Do you really need to wash your car between zoom meetings today? Probably not lol. So take that off of your list.

4) Get Organized

Organization will help you stay on track. Organizing yourself is a great way to slow down as well. Focus on the most important things in order and you will probably finish in a reasonable amount of time and have more free time to do the things you enjoy, or just chillax.

Man Walking Near Body of Water

5) Schedule in Walks

I love walking. It’s in my top 5 favorite activities to do. I am also part of a virtual walking challenge (link here), which helps push me to do even more walking. One of the best things to do to slow down, that I know from first hand experience, is go on walks. This helps because it takes time away from doing work and forces you to focus on exercise and what is going on around you. I walk about an hour to an hour and a half each day. During that time, I am not working, I am off my phone (unless I am listening to my audibles) and I am focusing on the present. Walking has definitely made me appreciate the “now” and I have found that my life is not quite so hectic because of it.

6) Quit working at the same time each day

If you want to slow down, schedule a time and quit working at that time. For me, that’s 5:30. I have actually created a habit and my body naturally stops working at that time. My brain shuts off, I get hungry, and I start to really shift my focus elsewhere. It is a really good thing because my body knows when to just stop for the day. If you don’t really do this, you may just continue to keep working for a very long time or stay way too busy. You have to schedule a time to just stop.

Final Thoughts

Life in grad school can get hectic and stressful at times. I get it, I really do. But sometimes slowing down is the best option. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems can and will occur in grad school. This is why overwhelming yourself with stuff might not be the best thing to do. I had to force myself to slow down due to mental health reasons. If you want out know more about my mental health, check out these blogs (here). I have to slow down to reduce stress and anxiety. Fortunately, I am in a good place now, but I do worry for some of the new grad students. Please make sure to take care of yourselves in grad school. It is a long and hard journey.

**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

Should You Do An Internship in Grad School?

It’s internship and job hunting season. I bet you didn’t know there was such as thing. Well in college, there is lol. It usually occurs right after career showcases happen, usually February. Summer is the most popular time to do an internship, so people are trying to secure one before they go on break. Obtaining an internship for the summer can help pay for expenses during the fall semester, and in some cases, pay for classes as well. I have known many individuals that have gotten high paying internships and paid for their tuition just from 3 months of working! So, internships are great to have.

Now, should you get one while in grad school? This can be a tricky question to answer because grad school is much more different than undergrad. First off, grad school covers a very broad range of studies. Grad school includes master’s, MBA, PhD, law degrees, medical degrees, education degrees, and a whole lot of other degrees that I really don’t know much about. In undergrad, it’s mostly dealing with a bachelor’s degree, which most are set up the same way, course work. Grad school can be course work, teaching experience, research based (me), or some other strange teaching method lol. This makes it difficult to find time to do an internship. Sometimes, it can be impossible.

Woman Coding on Computer

Master’s Students

During your master’s, you will probably have summers free. Take full advantage of internships if you are in this position. In fact, I highly suggest getting one to get an understanding of the types of jobs that you may have after college. Master degree holders are very valuable, so finding an internship isn’t as hard as you may think. Also, you can negotiate a higher pay because you are a degree holder already. Do not sell yourself short.

For master’s students, I would suggest looking at companies that you are interested in working at and applying there. This serves many purposes. 1) You will get your foot in the door and can put that on your resume. 2)You will get experience at the company and they will most likely hire you on as a full time employee, with a higher salary than a person just starting. 3) You will get paid over summer and get valuable work experience lol. 4) You can also see if you like the job that you are applying for. If you get an internship and hate working as that position, then you saved yourself a ton of time and can try another position.

Gold and Black Statue of Man Holding Book

Law Students

If you are a law student and wondering if you should get an internship, then you came to the right place. Law students are some of the busiest and overworked individuals that I know. I am dating a lawyer and my current roommate is a law student. One of my best friend’s girlfriend is a law student as well and all of my girlfriend’s friends are lawyers. I am surrounded…Let me tell you, law students make great employees and getting an internship while in law school is imperative. You need the experience of being a lawyer or you’re going to have a hard time after college. Being a lawyer is not like law school. You will need some experience to become a well rounded lawyer when you pass the bar and go work for the big law firms.

Summers are open for you to get an internship wherever you want. My girlfriend had a ton of internships and got a ton of experience before she left college. Summers were spent working for quite a few firms as well as the public defenders office. I believe she had internships during the second year of law school as well. When talking to her, she always stresses that getting these internships were essential to getting a good job.

For those in law school that are deciding whether or not to get an internship, trust me when I say DO IT!!! Get one for summer and make the most of it. Do an internship this summer and next and take the final summer off to study for the bar. I guarantee you will thank me later for pushing you lol.

Free stock photo of art, artistic, arts and crafts

PhD

PhD students spend the whole year ding work. For those doing research, you probably won’t be going and doing an internship, though this isn’t always the case. I have known individuals getting their doctorates that spend their summers at internships, usually somewhere related to their research. This is important because they can use this time as experience for their own research goals and maybe even incorporate it into their thesis. Some research PhDs do internships on the side while working on their own research full time. If you do this, make sure that it is alright with your adviser and doesn’t set you back in graduating.

PhD students that don’t do year round research may definitely do an internship during the summer. This is a common occurrence for individuals that are only paid for 9 months and probably teach to get paid. Internships help to supplement the 3 months out of teaching and help to hone their skills in the field that they are studying. Getting an internship while doing a PhD is very common, though not many people really talk about it, surprisingly.

Final Thoughts

Yes, grad students can do internships. Depending on what you do, you may not have the time to be able to do an internship or you risk setting back graduation. Other times, getting an internship is the best possible thing you can doing while getting a grad degree. It can help you find a job, find what you are passionate about, and even earn you a bit of money. If you are in a position where you can get a internship, I suggest going for it. Get the experience. It is well worth it.

Let me know in the comments if you think it is good or bad to have an internship in grad school. Also, if you have had an internship as a grad student, tell us about your experience. We would love to know more.

Please Be Kind To Yourself

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I have noticed many new students beating themselves up because they don’t understand something or they are having a hard time with experiments. Honest, this really upsets me. I know how hard one can be to themself. I was that individual that would put myself don if I got a B on an exam. God forbid I get any lower. It has taken years of self help and a whole year of therapy to get to where I am today.

Grad school is here for one purpose, to learn. One thing that comes with learning is failure. Failing over and over and over is a hard, yet important thing to do during this time. Yes, there is a lot of pressure from your adviser to do well, but they want to see you try and learn along the way. They do not want to see you beat yourself up over small things.

Be kind to yourself. You will make a ton of mistakes in grad school, but as long as you learn from them, those aren’t really mistakes, right? I have seen way too many people leave because they just couldn’t take the stress of grad school. It’s hard, and that gives you even more reason to be kind to yourself while going through it.

I do not want you to end up with a mental health issue by the end of your academic tenure. I have experience quite a few problems throughout my journey and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. So please, be kind to yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff.

This blog post is a bit short, I know, but it is an important one. I want to make sure that your experience through grad school is a pleasant one and sets you up for a wonderful life down the road. This time in your life can be very hard. Most people are in their mid 20s and just starting out in life. Being kind to oneself can make sure that mental health issue don’t arise. This is why it is so important to be kind to yourself, take breaks, and make sure to show yourself love. It was the best thing I ever did for myself.

**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

How to Ace Your First Exam

I have been seeing quite a few people in the libraries lately which can only indicate one thing, EXAM TIME. Now, it is spring semester so this is probably not the first exam time of the school year for most people. Now if you are reading this and it is fall semester, it probably is the first exam that you have had in a good while. Don’t be afraid though, exams are an unfortunate, yet necessary, part of college. Also, you will pass, I promise.

Now, grad school is notorious for giving some hard and long exams. I once had an exam that took me 2 whole days to finish. It was a take home exam but was so long that I needed the full two days to do it. If you aren’t so lucky and have only in class exams, well, you better get on the study train, ASAP!

First exams can be a little intimidating, unfortunately. It is the first time seeing an exam for that class and you really don’t know how the professor will score it, or how hard it will be. If you are familiar with the professor, you may definitely have an advantage. I liked taking classes with the same professors because you knew how the exams would be as well as how hard or easy. If you don’t have that luxury, don’t panic. Most of the time, the first exam isn’t the hardest of the semester.

first exams

What to Expect on the First Exam

The first exam will most likely cover the basics that you learn in the first 3 or 4 weeks of class. You are just starting to get into the meat of the class but are basically reviewing some key concepts prior to tackling the harder subjects. This is why I believe the first exam is usually the easiest. I have had many classes where the first exam was the hardest, but it was always curved at the end. Professors don’t want to fail half the class before spring break, so they won’t make it too terribly difficult.

Two Men Studying Together

Review Sessions are Awesome!!!!

Usually before the exam, the professor will have a review session. Some of these review sessions are during class, but others might be outside of class. Make sure to go to them! They will hopefully cover the topics on the exam. Sometimes they just review everything which doesn’t really help lol. This is a good time to ask questions and get a better understanding of what concepts will be covered. They may even tell you what each question will be on exactly. Take full advantage of these sessions and write notes. Spend your time studying the material that was brought up and get a good grasp on all of those ideas and concepts.

Week Before Exam

First off, pray that you don’t have like 3 exams all in the same week. If you are lucky to only have one, focus on that mostly. The week following up to the exam is a good time to brush up on the previous few weeks of material. You probably only have like 3 classes so you should know at least what that class is about and not confusing it with another lol. Start reading your notes and getting familiar with those subjects. It is easier to start studying early than at the last minute. Cramming was all good and fun in undergrad, but you won’t last long if that’s what you do in grad school. These concepts might take a few days to understand fully as well. If you are in a STEM program, you’ll probably be doing math, so learning how to do equations and problems the night before is a recipe for disaster. Trust me lol.

Woman Sleeping

Make Sure to Sleep

The reason I suggest studying during the week is so you do not burn yourself out. If you study at the last minute, you’ll probably pull an “all nighter” and do really bad the next day due to lack of sleep. Don’t be this person, be responsible. Getting enough sleep is essential for brain function and retention of information. Remember, grad school is not just go to class, take a test, graduate. No, it’s go to class, learn the material for research and your career, pass the exam because you know the material, and retain the info to be a better scientist. Sleep allows you to retain the information better. One of my favorite things to do, which allowed me to get a 3.91 GPA in my Master’s program, was to study at night, right before bed. I would study before sleep and then immediately go to bed. The next day, I would literally remember everything from the night before. Apparently there are studies going on about this exact method. So, Get some sleep!

Person Behind Books

Day of the Exam

So make sure you get plenty of sleep before the exam. Make sure you have studied a sufficient enough, but really watch “overstudying”. One time, I studied for a chemistry exam for 3 weeks. I was so sure that I was going to get an A until I got the exam and completely bombed it. I studied so much that I started to confuse myself and was completely confused during the exam. Unfortunately, I received a D on that test O.0. Try not to over study. And, above all else, make sure to actually wake up and go to the exam!!! Don’t oversleep (happened to a friend of mine).

One thing that I have a bad time doing on exam days is being overly caffeinated. As you guys and gals know, I love my coffee, so I tend to drink way too much on exam days because I am afraid I won’t be awake enough to do well. This usually makes me overly anxious. Something that is not good when taking an exam. If you are going to drink caffeine, try tea as an alternative to coffee. It will wake you up but won’t make you overly anxious.

Brown and Black Wooden Chairs Inside Room

After the Exam

After the exam, take the rest of the day off. Go do something fun or just stay home and watch a movie. Pushing yourself too hard is not good and taking an exam will really push you hard. After exam, I like to treat myself to a good dinner or lunch, depending when the exam is. I also like to just stay home and treat myself to a movie. Relaxing is one of the best things to do because you may need more energy soon to take even more exams. So take full advantage of this period where you can rest and relax.

Final Thoughts

Good luck on your first round of exams. If you study hard, sleep well, don’t over do it, and limit caffeine, I am sure you will ace it. Also, just know that GPA really doesn’t matter in grad school, so getting that B is totally fine. Focus on the research lol. If you have some secret tips to pass your first round of exams, share it with us in the comments! Until next time, take care everyone.

Rainy Day Mindfulness

Today has been quite a gloomy one. I woke up to a sick cat and a very overworked and tired girlfriend. Quite a lot was going on and it really didn’t make the morning too fun. One thing that did help was the gloominess of the morning. Today has an 80% chance of rain, throughout the day. It is one of those days where you just want to snuggle under the covers, watch Harry Potter, and eat a ton of candy. Unfortunately, today is a lab day, so I am doing experiments. I need mindfulness.

Two People Walking in the Forest

Walking and Mindfulness

The best part of this morning was the walk to campus. I say it all the time, but one really should walk everywhere, if you are able. This morning was the perfect whether to walk to campus. It’s slightly cool, there’s hardly any wind, and it’s extremely overcast. I was considering scooting, but figured that a walk would be better. Usually, I will listen to music on my walk, but today, I decided to just walk without the added distraction. It made all the difference.

I have to be honest with all of you, I haven’t been practicing mindfulness as much as I had in the past. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. I was primarily using mindfulness to calm my very anxious mind. In the past year, I have gotten to a point where I don’t have panic attacks often, I don’t have ruminating thoughts, and my depression has basically disappeared. I believe that it all comes down to my mindfulness practice and living in the moment. Because I wasn’t actively trying to prevent anxiety and depression, my mindfulness practices have lessened. Today, I decided to just try and be in the moment on my walk to campus.

Mindfulness

This mindfulness practice involves just walking and paying attention to the sights, sounds, and smells that surround you. On rainy days, you really get to experience quite a few different sights, sounds, and smells. It was very calm at the time that I left, so the sounds were mostly cars. Every once in a while, I would hear the squirrels or birds in the trees, which made for a nice transition from the sounds of motorized vehicles passing. Now the sights and smells were better than just the sounds. When it’s rainy, everything is a bit more gloomy so you get to experience familiar things in an unfamiliar manner. Most days are sunny, so I am used to experiencing those things in the sun, but on rainy days, they look way different.

A Woman in Pink Dress Standing while Holding a Flower

Smells

The smells, oh the smells, were quite intense. Not anything bad, though, just more potent. Apparently from this article , “When it rains, spores produced by the actinomycetes are pushed up into the air, releasing the geosmin and creating that fresh, distinctive scent, according to Smithsonian.” Thanks spores, you made my walk quite good smelling lol.

From below of thick cumulus clouds floating high in air on bright sky with orange beams in nature on evening time

I was at Peace

Focusing on all three of these senses really brought me more in touch with my mindfulness practices. For 30 minutes, I was living in the moment, not worrying about the work I had to do, the troubles of the day, or thoughts about the future. I was in the “now”. I almost forgot how amazing this feeling was and how peaceful I became during the walk. The whole rainy day vibes really made me peaceful as well. It would definitely be nice to have a few more of these days in the near future.

I highly encourage you to just go for a 30 minute walk and focus on the sights, sounds, and smells that you experience during the walk. Don’t listen to music, don’t look at your phone, and most importantly, don’t think. Just tune into your surroundings and be in the moment. If any thought pops into your head, acknowledge it and let it pass. I guarantee that you will have an amazing experience.

Challenge

I want to challenge you to take a 30 minute walk sometime today or this week and just observe everything around you. Go outside, if it’s not too cold, and just live in the moment. focus on the different sounds, smells, and try and pay attention to details of things around you. Look at a tree and focus on what the bark looks like. Things like that. But please, please, please stay off your phone. 30 minutes without looking at your phone is a long time, I know, but it is worth it. I hope you accept this challenge and try mindfulness out for yourself. I guarantee it is worth it.

Final Thoughts

Today didn’t start off as planned but most of my days don’t start that way. Walking in the rain helped to ground myself and find peace in this world, even for a short amount of time. I highly recommend walking in stormy weather. There is an odd sense of peace, unless it’s a hurricane. Then maybe stay inside lol. I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday, I will be in my lab for a long time today, doing experiments. Let me know in the comments of mindfulness techniques that you use. I am sure we can all gain something from those.

More of My Favorite Quotes

I wrote a few months ago, a blog about my top 10 favorite quotes. Since then, I have read and heard many more quotes that I want to share with you today. If you want to check out my last blog, here is the link to that page. I figured that motivation might not be as high today to do work so hopefully these quotes give you that boost of energy and motivation to get right back to being productive. If not, then I suggest checking out my blog on how to be more motivated (here).

Photo of a Sign and Eyeglasses on Table

Anyway, let’s get into the quotes that I have read/heard recently that I think are worth sharing.

1) “If we do it now, we’ll never run out of time”-some Redditor (lol) 

2) “If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success”-John D. Rockefeller

3) “There is nothing permanent except change”-Heraclitus

4)”If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”-Albert Einstein

5)”In order to write about life first you must live it.”– Ernest Hemingway

6)”The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”-Stephen McCranie

7)”Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” -Jonathan Lockwood Huie

8) “It’s okay to look back at the past, just don’t stare.”-Dover

9)”Two of the most important days in your life are: the day you were born and the day you find out why.”-Mark Twain

10)”In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” -Robert Frost.

Final Thoughts

I hope these are some good quotes that are inciteful and possibly inspiring. Let me know of some more quotes and I will probably make another post with them. Until next time friends, stay amazing!

How Many Classes Should I Take?

This is a question that very few people like to tell you straight up. I will be the one to tell you exactly how many classes you should take each semester. As I have posted many times, grad school is as hard as you make it. It can be a walk in the park or a roller coaster of emotions that ends in you crying. Frankly, a mixture of both is ideal because it is challenging enough to really push you but also not so terrible that you have a mental breakdown. One of the ways to make sure that you get the most out of grad school is determining how many classes you take each semester and how hard to make that semester.

For many school, 9 credit hours is all you need to be a full time student. Undergrad way different because that required 12 credits, sometimes 15 credits, to be declared full time. But in grad school, taking 15 credits is a death sentence. Grad school classes aren’t necessarily harder, per se, they just demand a lot more of your time. For me, many of my classes were undergrad classes with added homework assignments and papers. I rarely took tests, but you bet your butt that I wrote a ton of papers.

If You Want a Quick Master’s

Many students just want to get through grad school as quickly as possible. To get a master’s degree, most of the programs require 30 credits of classwork. If you do 9 credits each semester and one 3 cred course during the first semester, you can be done in 4 semsters. Usually people will stay for 2 years, and then finish. I would recommend, if you really want to get out quickly, take 12 credits the first semester, 6 credits during summer (if there are classes available), and 12 credits the final semester. This means that you can finish your master’s in a year and go on to other things in life.

For not as driven individuals

The best amount of classes that I found were great for me was max 3 classes. 9 credits is a full time job in grad school. You will dive very deep into complex ideas and theories and having enough time to thoroughly do this is ideal. 3 classes each semester, minus summer, should be the max so you do not go insane. I have heard of people taking on 12 credits there final semester just to finish without having to stay one semester for one class. This is fine, but I am not encouraging this. I think finishing grad school without any mental health issues is a major badge of honor.

So for this path, you will take 9 credits fall, 9 credits spring, maybe 6 credits fall, and 6 credits spring to finish in 2 years. The final two semesters can be good to look for jobs, do research or just have fun. Grad school might be the last schooling you ever have before you go to work full time.

Woman Sitting on Chair Beside Table While Using Phone

For Those Working Full Time

I took courses through UF’s online program, EDGE, when I was working full time. It was a great experience and you can read about it here. Anyway, if you are working full time, the max amount of classes that you should take is 2. You will be working your butt off at work and school these semesters, but it is totally worth it. I advise you not to take anymore than 2 classes or 6 credits a semester. It may take a while longer to finish, but at least you will finish without going insane. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Final Thoughts

I think taking your time, learning the material, and getting some research experience is an ideal path for your master’s. If you need to rush through it to get to a higher paying job, then really know what you are getting into. Taking a ton of classes will take up a good chunk of time. If you have any questions about taking classes or literally anything about grad school, please email me at benswaringen@yahoo.com. I would be happy to answer any questions that you have. Email e even if you just want to say hello. I always love when I can communicate with readers.

As always, thank you for taking the time to come into my weird little world and read stuff that came from my weird little head lol. I always appreciate when people take the time out of there day to read what I have to write. This is one of the many reasons I love blogging.

5 Stages of Grad School

Today’s post might be a tad bit longer than usual. I have been doing some really interesting lab work and have been quite busy, so I am going to take a break for a bit and write a little. I am the person that does things in bursts. Unfortunately, this is extremely exhausting and tires me out really quickly. So, I am quite the “break taker” I suppose. During my breaks, I don’t really relax because I have to be constantly doing something that stimulates my brain. One thing that surprisingly helps is writing. Writing has been my go to for a while now, when I have down time or need to break.

So, this morning, I am going to do some writing before I have to get back to work. I am also trying to warm myself up for a task that I have been putting off for some time now lol. Anyway, todays wonderful and exciting topic is The 5 Stages of GRAD SCHOOL (oooooooooo). I actually thought about this topic on the way over to my office and I felt like I should write about it. I have gone through most of these stages and the last stage will be what I will face in the upcoming year. This is aimed more towards new grad students to kind of help them be ready for some very interesting stages in their academic tenure. So, let’s get right into it!

The 5 Stages of GRAD SCHOOL! (OOOOOOOOO)

Group of Friends Hanging Out

1) Classes and Pre Quals

This one of the stages of grad school is one of my all time favorites. See, classwork and getting to know the lab was such a fun and exciting time. Learning new materials, building up my familiarity with professors and colleagues, and being able to go home at a decent time was the bees knees. This one of the stages of grad school usually consists of the first 2 years. You are taking all of the course work required to finish the PhD requirements. You may have some work with your research, but it is mainly stuff to prepare you for after class work. This is the time to develop friendships and get to know the other’s in your program. It is also a great time to develop great habits that will make the rest of the time in grad school much easier.

Take full advantage of this time. Join a sports league, maybe join a club, or just do a bunch of things while you have the time and energy. The later stages can make it more difficult to do these things. Also, take the time to read up on anything and everything that there is about your research. You don’t need to be an expert at this time, but knowing a bit of information about the subject always gives you brownie points with your PI. I loved this phase of my time in grad school. The saying “you’re gonna miss it when it’s gone” truly applies to this. I miss the classwork and being surrounded by super motivated and intelligent individuals.

Person With Tattoo on Arm Holding Pen Writing on White Paper

2) Qualifying Exam Prep

So you’ve made it this far. You did not “masters out”. I have heard of many people getting funded for a PhD with the intent of just leaving after they get their master’s. I think this is why many professors bring on individuals that already have their master’s. That, and funding lol. Anyway, thisstage of grad school is one of the hardest, and frankly, the most stressful. Pre qualifying exam includes writing up a proposal, getting your committee to agree on a day for you to present it, and also reading more papers than you ever have in your life. The proposal write up is quite difficult because you have to come up with unique ideas on what to do research on. By this time, you have discussed with your adviser about what you will be doing, so the only thing to do is write it up.

Now the qualifying exam is a different story. It is a combination of a written test and and oral presentation. The written test can be over literally anything that your committee find fit for you to test on. The oral presentation is there to present your proposal as well as answer anymore questions that they have. My qualifying exam took over a month to complete and even longer to find out if i was a PhD Candidate. You can read more about it on my blogs about the qualifying exam, here and here.

Heck, some grad school programs are trying to get rid of them all together because they are almost like an academic hazing ritual. You will feel defeated afterwards and many people leave just because of it. It is a rough time, but it is do-able. Trust me, I’ve done it and so can you. Unfortunately, it leads into some of the hardest times, motivationally wise that is.

White and Tan English Bulldog Lying on Black Rug

3) Post Qual Slump

Welcome to year 3! Many people on the internet have warned me about this particular time in grad school. You are done with classes, you just finished your qualifying exam., and you are ready for research. Unfortunately, this is the hardest time to find any form of motivation. You will go weeks without accomplishing a single task. Burn out is a real thing and I’m quite sure that is what you deal with during this portion of your grad school experience. I know I felt sluggish, unmotivated, and do right lazy. This is normal and it will pass.

During your third year, you might get very little done because you are burnt out. Just remember to keep going. You will also ask yourself quite often “is this still worth it”? The answer to that question will always be yes. Do not get in the mindset where you think all of this work is for nothing. Remember, your PhD is an apprenticeship. You are supposed to go through all of this to become a competent scientist. Some things need work like lack help with mental health, though. (One of the reasons I started this blog). This year will pass very quickly and you will see motivation come back again. There is hope, I promise.

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4) The “Now What?”

Ah, this is where I am at currently. I am coming to the end of my research as well as the end of my PhD. Unfortunately, I haven’t gone full force into my writing yet, though that may come sooner than later. I am in the “now what?” phase. This phase is where you start thinking of the next step. What will I do with my degree? What types of careers are out there for me? This stage can be scary and quite confusing. You’ll scour the web, looking for jobs that require a PhD and realize that most are post docs. It can get discouraging, especially if you are like me and probably heading to industry after college.

This phase is exciting though. You are pretty much a the finish line and can almost call yourself, doctor. All of the years of studying, the late nights in the lab, the packages of ramen, all come down to this phase as well as the next. You are probably ABD (all but dissertation) at this point, so all you need to do is write. Unfortunately, you are too overwhelmed with figuring out what you want to do in life that you put off writing until your adviser starts asking for papers to read and correct. This is the time you hit the last stage of grad school.

Standing Woman Facing a Speeding Train

5) Fast and The Furious

This is it, the final hurdle between you and sweet, sweet freedom. Why do I say this is the fast and the furious? Well, because it’s going to go by fast and you’re going to be furious going through this lol. i have a friend who is currently going through the writing and editing phase now. She spends hours each day writing. I mean like 14+ hours writing. I haven’t seen her in weeks and I’m pretty sure she hasn’t stepped outside in weeks as well. Unfortunately, her thesis first draft has to be submitted in like 3 weeks so she’s going full force.

This stage in grad school is nuts. You might get some more experiments in, but you really should be finished. Writing can be awful and writing a 300 page explanation of your research is awful. This is also the stage where you will defend your thesis and graduate. It is exciting, goes by in a flash, and can cause you to break. At this point in your PhD, you just want to finish just for the sake of finishing. you really don’ care about the project anymore. You might have a ton of motivation with very little energy.

As I stated before, this is where you defend. I have been to a few defenses and they are all the same. If you passed the quals, you will pass the defense. No one that I know has ever failed the defense and I honestly think it is there for you to show off. Many people present their research in the “victory lap” manner. They are confident, have published papers, and know that they will be a doctor. I like those presentations because it takes away the stress. You did it, you made it this far, let’s have fun and learn about the years of research you did.

Final Thought

These are the 5 stages of grad school that you will likely face when doing a doctorate. Of course, all doctorates are different so these stages of grad school might be different than yours. Let me know in the comments if these are experiences that you had and if this blog post even makes sense lol. I think I have sufficiently warmed up my hand and now I am ready to do work. I will see you all in the next blog. Peace!

Time to Accept Uncertainty

One of the best lessons that I learned while in grad school was life is all about uncertainty. I laugh at people when they are just “so sure” of something. If you were so sure then you can make a ton of money being a fortune teller. Life is such a crazy ride and I love every minute of it, yes, even the bad moments. We are all given this crazy opportunity, that is life, so try and enjoy this ride. Anyway, I just wanted to share a few of the things in my life that came from the uncertainty. Things that I didn’t know would occur and things that are going to change my life in some way.

I am going to be an Uncle

One of the coolest things that no one was really expecting was my brother’s girlfriend to get pregnant, which means I am going to be an uncle. She is actually due today so my family is waiting to hear from my brother and her today sometime. I am super excited and so is my family. This is one of the cool things that I was just not expecting. I always thought that I would be like 40 before I became an uncle, but nope, it’s happening either today or tomorrow!

My graduation is later than expected

One thing that grad students always think is that they will finish their PhD on time. Hahahaha, this is definitely not the case for me. I was scheduled to finish up this semester, but my committee and Covid had other plans. Looking at some Reddit posts and forums online, I saw that this is fairly normal. These past years have been so uncertain with Covid happening that I actually thought at a point that I would not graduate. Fortunately for me, I will graduate this year, at some point, so at least that is a certainty? lol.

A fun one. I got summoned for jury duty

I was summoned for jury duty. This was something I wasn’t prepared for and I have to drive back to my parents for it. I do want to be part of a jury but getting summoned not, while finishing up my doctorate is not the ideal time, unfortunately. I was so certain that I would never have to do jury duty, man was I wrong.

Person in Gray Denim Jeans and Gray Low Top Sneakers

More Uncertainty

There are a few things that I just don’t know about and I am extremely excited for. These include where I will live after receiving my doctorate, what my career will be, and will I still keep in contact with friends I have now. These are all things that will be in my control but parts of those things may be out of my control as well. I will see in the next few months what is in store for me and my life.

Final Thoughts

I think embracing uncertainty of life and riding that roller coaster is such a fun experience. Being so sure about things can lead to great disappointment. You can never 100% know what will occur and when, so you might as well just enjoy the journey as it happens. One day you might be living in your home town, enjoying life, and the next day, you are travelling the world. Things like that can and do happen. I hope my life is adventurous and exciting like that, and you know what, it might be.

I have written about uncertainty in grad school before. In fact, I really think you should go check it out, if you haven’t already. It offers some ways of dealing with uncertainty. As always, thank you for spending the time to read my blog. I will see you all in the next one.

Days I Don’t Want To Write

If you read my blog, you have probably seen a few of these posts here and there. Let me link you to a few of them. (here, here, here). Dang, I do write a ton of blogs about lack of motivation and not working. Today, like those other days, is a very difficult day to get going. I find it amazing how motivated I am the day before, but that all disappears as soon as I arrive to my lab. Today, I had big plans on writing. Unfortunately, those plans might not happen the way that I want. Today is a day that I just don’t want to write. It’s a bit ironic that I am writing about not writing, though. I am hoping this gives me a bit of a boost. So, if you are like me, and don’t feel like writing today, check out some helpful advice on how to get started or not feel as bad.

Let’s Get Started

Close-up of Hand Holding Pencil over White Background

I think writing can be quite a struggle for people because they want to be perfect. When I first started, perfection was the key. I wasn’t going to give in some half down garbage to my professor. So, what I did, was set aside like a good 8 hours to just write perfection. You know what happened? I spend 30 minutes writing and the rest of the time anxious that what I had written was bad. That means that I got practically nothing on the paper. This can be bad, especially when you have a deadline.

So Key Tip #1: Write for imperfection

Woman Typing on Laptop

On the days that you find hard to write, just write a few sentences. One thing that I find a bit upsetting is looking back on the day and realizing that I may have done like 2 things and that was it. I usually have the whole day planned to get some work done, especially writing, and I may only get a few small things out of the way. This usually creates a ton of unwanted anxiety and I worry that I will fall behind. One way to not feel this way is to just designate a small amount of time to write. 30 minutes is all you need. You can write a bit, get closer to the goal of finishing a bit more, and you won’t feel so bad. Writing should be a marathon, not a sprint.

So Key Tip #2: Just write anything. 500 words! 200 words! a few sentences! Just write!

Lastly, on days that you just don’t feel like writing at all. Like, these are days that writing will be the same as pulling teeth. On those days, don’t write. Just don’t write at all. Instead, maybe plan out writing for the next day and do some things that you have been putting off. I know on days where I would rather do anything than write, I will clean or do data input. Maybe catch up on organizing things or plan out the whole semester. One day of not writing will not destroy your career or studies. Hopefully you don’t have a job where you have to write or you are fired. In that case, making a plan to write is the best.

Woman Sitting on Brown Wooden Chair Beside Coconut

So lastly, Key Tip #3:If you don’t want to write then don’t. Make sure to get something done that is beneficial. It will make you feel like you did quite a bit that day and you won’t have anxiety.

Final Thought

Today I am going to take advantage of #1 and #2. I have this blog to prepare me for writing a bit and that is what I am going to do. I want to feel like this day didn’t go to waste, even though I know it did not. There was a ton of stuff for me to do this morning but I do like to get a bit of writing in as well. For those of you that do write on a daily basis, what do you do to keep yourself going? Add some tips for those that just don’t feel like writing. Here are some tips from MasterClass on how to motivate yourself to write. Check it out.

How Do Grad Students Get to Class

There are many questions that you will probably ask when you start grad school. Where are my classes? Is my adviser going to me nice or mean? How much effort do I need to put in to receive a B? You know, the really important questions. One question that may come up is how do grad students even get to class? Many grad students have to live very far away from campus and commute somehow each day. There are a wide variety of methods to get to class that I want to go over today.

I want to share some of my favorite ways how grad students get to class or to campus as well as some of the more popular methods that people do. Some are extremely obvious while other’s might not be. Let’s take a look at the different ways that grad students get to campus.

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How grad students make it to class each day

how grad students get to class :bus

1) Bus

This is the most popular way in which grad students make it to campus. Most colleges provide this as a means of transportation and you pay for it in student fees. This is the easiest way to get to class on time because there are usually buses that come by each stop ever 10 to 15 minutes. you don’t have to wait long. I like this method if I live very far away and I am on a non-popular bus route. When you have a popular route, the buses usually fill up very quickly and there’s never room to sit. This might be the best method, especially if you live far away.

how grad students get to class :bike

2) Bike to Class

I love to bike. I have a road bike specifically for making it to my lab in time to do experiments or make it to meetings. I, however, hate riding my bike in a college town. Some people love this method of transportation because there is a ton of freedom and you will get to your destination probably quicker than a bus. I don’t like it because you have to weave in and out of traffic and college town drivers do not care about your safety. This method is great in places where a driver is more likely to pay attention. Not in a college town lol. Also, when you get on campus, you have to really watch where you are going because there are a million people that you can hit. If you are a good cyclist, I suggest this as a method to get to class quickly.

how grad students get to class :walk

3) Walk

This is my favorite method of getting to my office or class. Walking is great exercise and I also get to complete my walking challenge for the day. It is slow, however. I do have to leave my apartment about 30-40 minutes early just to make it on time. This can be a lot for some people. Also, if you live very far away, walking might not be the best way to get to school. I would suggest not walking and taking the bus if you live greater than 1.5 miles away from campus.

how grad students get to class :scooter

4) Scootering

I love this method of transportation. Recently, those pay-to-scoot scooters have shown up, basically out of no where. People are scootering everywhere and for relatively little money. I have a push scooter so the upfront cost was a lot but at least I am not paying like $0.80 per minute to use these. The motorized (electric) scooters do go very fast so making it to class on time is easy and efficient. These are a good alternative to bikes and you can pick one up to ride literally anywhere near campus. For a push scooter, they are just as fast and a great way to get some exercise in. Just make sure to wear a helmet when riding, especially in a college town.

how grad students get to class :scooter

5) Gas Scooters

You see these a ton on campus. They are fast, fun, and inexpensive to park on campus. They are also fairly fuel efficient and will get you where you need to go. Getting a parking permit for them is like half the price of a car so you can pull right up in front of your building. They have designated parking areas for them all over too. This is a good method if you live a bit further away from campus, but don’t want to drive or taking a bus. You also need to be extra careful because these are motorized vehicles and can be dangerous. If you are going to get one, make sure you are familiar with the area you’re going to drive and be extra precautious. I have seen quite a few accidents involving scooters.

how grad students get to class :car

6) Driving your car

This is lower on the list because I find this method to be a pain. Parking is impossible to find, you have to drive like 20 miles per hour everywhere, and the parking permits are expensive. This method might be the best, other than the bus, if you are in a place where it gets cold. Walking to class in the snow sounds awful and same with taking your bike or scooter. The bus is a good alternative and it’s included in your fees. Cars are good ways to get to campus if you live very far away. I have known people to commute 40 minutes each day via car. Their rent is much cheaper, but the commute is terrible.

how grad students get to class :skateboard

7) Skateboard or Longboard (electric and non electric)

I think this method of transportation is quite cool. I love skateboarding, though, I am terrible at it. Skateboards and longboards are fast and efficient ways to get to campus. The only bad thing is braking lol. I find longboards harder to slow down, especially when riding through campus. Skateboarders and long boarders do weave in an out of foot traffic, but I haven’t seen any accidents with them yet. If you are good at riding either one, this may be a fantastic way to get to campus.

how grad students get to class :uber

8) Uber or Lyft

Yes, people pay for rides to campus. Heck, I saw a girl get picked up off of the road then dropped off a mile across campus. It took them the same amount of time to get there as it took me to walk from the initially pickup to the drop off. I thought it was funny. People utilize uber to get across campus. I wish I had the financial capability to do this, but alas, I am poor. This is a great method to get to campus when you have night classes. Usually after a certain time, busses become few and far between so an Uber or Lyft driver can come get you and take you to your destination safely.

Finals Thoughts

Getting to class can be a chore, I know, I have been a student for the majority of my life. These are ways grad students get to class are the best and possible some of the only ways lol. I am curious, how did you get to class when you where in school? How many of you had to walk up-hill, in the snow. both ways? I know my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents did lol. I’ll tell my kids that one day as well.

As always, I hope you guys have an amazing day and week. If you haven’t already, go check out my blog about my experience with therapy and why everyone needs it. Peace.

Goals For This Year

This blog may come a bit later than most that deal with this topic, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not an important one. Creating goals for the year is always a wonderful task, even if those goals slowly fizzle away. For this year, I am focusing mot of my energy on a few key goals. I am more of a process type of individual and focus primarily on the journey, rather than the destination. I believe it is important to get the small habits down than just focus primarily on the end goal. Having goals is important to me, but the process getting to those goals has always been my main focus. Anyway, I want to share some of the goals that I have for this year.

Before I get into it, I want to just let you guys know that this year will be a huge year for me, starting with this month. January has never really been a great month for me. I am an end-of-the-year type person and the beginning has always brought sadness and depression. This year will be different. In a few days, I will become an uncle to a baby boy. Most of you reading this will probably be reading after I become an uncle so I will have to update you all on how it goes. This is also the year I get my doctorate. I was pretty much told this is my last year so I will be leaving. So two very big things going on so far. I also turn the big 30! Hot dang, time flies. Well, you aren’t here to hear me rant so let’s get into my list!

Goals for This Year

Person Holding White Scroll

1) Graduate

This is the ultimate goal of this year. I am ABD (all but dissertation) and all I need to do is finish a few experiments and I am ready for the write up. Luckily, I have been writing a ton over the three years here so my dissertation is practically done. (not really but I am better off then a lot of other people.) I want to spend some time travelling when I finish so finding a job is not my main priority just yet. I want to get to the finish line before I start thinking about the celebration, you know?

Hot air ballons in the sky

2) Travel when we can

Travelling is life. I was not bitten by the travel bug, I was devoured by it lol. I miss being able to go someone brand new and try all of the different foods, meet some interesting people, and just submerse yourself in that culture. Hopefully we can get back to normal after Omicron and get back to travelling the world. This year, I plan on visiting another Asian country. I went to China when I graduated from undergrad and not I want to go to Thailand or somewhere near there. If you have been over that way, comment below and let me know the best place to go.

Blog Letters on Brown Wood

3) Build up my blog

The last time I looked, I think I am at like 160 blog posts or something crazy like that. I love it and blogging has significantly helped my writing, especially my dissertation. I love all of the support from my fans and friends and I especially love that I have developed a cool little hobby. Writing was not my forte when I was younger, but now I consider myself a writer. Thank you all for your support. I want to grow this blog even more and maybe turn it into a side hustle. Who knows, maybe blogging might become my career one day.

Man in Black Suit Sitting on Chair Beside Buildings

4) Figure out what I want to do for my next career

I said “my next career” for a reason. Life is uncertain and where I go next will probably not be where I am in 10 years. I may start off as a scientist and turn into an artist or something. I really don’t know. But for now, I want to figure out my next step. This is a daunting task for sure, but one I must make.

Unrecognizable couple wearing jeans standing carrying stacked carton boxes out of apartment during renovation on daytime

5) Move somewhere other than Florida

Life has a funny way of guiding you where you need to go. Florida has been my home for the past 20 years and I think it is telling me to move on. Things are changing so fast and the Florida that I grew up in is not the same now. Things change, and impermanence is inevitable, but it still makes me a bit sad. I think with the change, there will be new beginnings. Florida will always be my home but I do think it may be time to go somewhere else. California is calling me back, I know that. I may consider another country as well. I hear Germany is a pretty cool place to live.

Flat-lay Photography of Vegetable Salad on Plate

6) Develop better eating habits

Eating healthily in grad school has been tough. Pizza, pasta, ice cream, alfredo, ramen, literally anything is better than eating vegetables lol. I do want to transition into a better and healthier eating habit. The main problem in grad school is healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food. This is why it is so easy to get into that lifestyle of eating badly. Hopefully, I make a bit more money after college so I can eat better. For now, I am slowly trying to replace processed foods with fresh foods. I think I am on the right path.

Woman Reading A Book

7) Read at least one book all the way through

I am not a reader. In fact, I don’t really have the attention span to sit down and read. I do like listening to Audible books though. This year, I want to be able to read at least one book all the way through. I haven’t done this in ages and I truly think that reading more will benefit my wellbeing. It will keep me off social media, that’s for sure.

People Holding Their Phones

8) Delete one of my social media platforms

This is a big one for me. Eventually, I want to get to the point where social media is just completely out of my life. My mental health has significantly benefitted from my reduction of social media. I don’t really compare myself to people anymore and not being bombarded with negativity daily is refreshing. I think I will start with Twitter, then move to Instagram, and finally, Facebook. It will be a slow transition, but a welcomed one.

Woman Writing On A Whiteboard

9) Relearn Calculus

One of the funniest things that I find about grad school is how I have forgotten how to do math. It has been 10 years since I had a calculus course and I want to relearn it. I want to get more familiar with math again and be comfortable with doing it. Just basic math gives me anxiety now because I don’t do it often and I make a few mistakes here and there. I want to be a math guru again, so i am going to either take a class online or reteach myself. God help me.

Cluttered cramped workplace with typewriter papers

10) Get one more paper published

I was able to get my literature review published in a pretty good journal. If you are interested or just curious, here’s a link to the paper. There is a pay wall so you may only have access to the abstract. I am sorry about that. You can email me and I will send you a copy if you are truly curious. I believe I am able to do that. This year, I want to get one more paper published so I can have two, first author papers. That would be a heck of a dream lol.

Holding Hands

11) Have someone tell me that I have positively impacted their life

This has been one of my goals all throughout grad school and ever since I actually started caring about being a kind person. I want someone to let me know that my existence has positively impacted their life. I don’t need a million people to say this, just one and all of this that I do will be worth it. Aiming to be a good individual and do the right things, even if they are hard, is a main goal this year. I think the best thing in life is being able to benefit someone else’s life as well. So, this year, I want to get to that point where someone tells me this. It would make my whole year.

Final Thoughts

This year will have ups and downs, but I am ready. I am ready for everything that may come no matter what it is. I am also ready if this year does not turn out to be “my year”. This may happy and that is ok. I am just so excited that I get to spend another year with those I love, doing stuff that I am passionate about. I hope you guys have created a goals list that helps you this year. Hopefully you hit every goal or at least come very close to them.

Skills You Learn in Grad School

I think the most brought up portion of grad school, other than how hard it can be, is the topic of skillsets. you are going to learn a ton of new skills or just hone old skills that are a bit rusty. We know the types of skills that you will learn:

  1. research skills
  2. public speaking
  3. How to not spill concentrated acid on yourself
  4. How to conduct research
  5. What is considered “bad research”
  6. You’ll be an expert at Excel

These are just some of the major skills that you will learn along with 100 others. Today I want to talk about the weird and not-so-talked-about skills that you learn in grad school.

skills you learn in grad school

1) How to manage money without crying every night

This skill is learned very quickly. You are not really given a ton of money to work with and you somehow need to survive off of a salary that, in some cases, is below the poverty line. This skill is probably one of the best to learn because you are living at rock bottom, yet somehow thriving. Yes, simple living is not too exciting but this is a valuable skill to have because: 1) incase you get in a situation like this again, it will not shock you and you will know how to handle it and 2) you can help teach others how to live poor in case they are in that situation. Also, you will be a better person because you can sympathize with those that are struggling financially. You will probably be the first person to help them too since you know what it is like.

2 Women Sitting on Brown Wooden Chair

2) How to handle mental stress

Grad school is very difficult on your mental health. Heck, this whole blog is to help grad students cope with their feelings, handle their anxiety, and create a mindset that will allow for them to live a very happy and fulfilling life. At first, you may struggle. you may find anything and everything to help you cope. And, let me tell you something, you’ll find the help you need. You’ll practice mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy. You’ll try meditation and maybe yoga. You will end your grad school tenure in a better mindset than you had going in. This is a skill that is self learned with a ton of practice, but it can be done. You have seen rock bottom and most definitely won’t ever again (hopefully).

3) How to help other’s, especially new grads.

I hope you had a mentor when you first started grad school. if not then you might have had a bit of a tough time getting used to everything going on. Towards the end of your schooling, you become the mentor. You will have the skillset to teach the younger generation on how to strive in grad school. It is actually quite flattering when you are told to mentor someone. It means that you are trustworthy to help others on their journey. Even if you aren’t told, you’ll have the feeling to go and help someone. Seeing others struggle is kind of hard, and helping them, even a little bit, is extremely satisfying. This is a skill that I think more people need to have.

4) How to stop caring what other’s think of you

As a researcher, you will have a ton of people trying their hardest to make you feel stupid. When you get an advanced degree, it’s almost like an open invitation for people to try and find something that they can fool you with or test your knowledge. They may even say some really nasty things about you or to you. People will judge you, criticize you, and flat out be mean or make fun of you. Those things will not even bother you once you are done. You have gone through one of the hardest pieces of judgement (peer review) and you survived. Nothing that people say or think even bothers you slightly. This is one of the coolest skills to have because you start living the life you want without caring what other’s think. In undergrad, heck even more so in high school, I cared what people thought of me. I cared so much that it caused a ton of pain and suffering for me. Now, I couldn’t care less what people thought of me. It’s liberating, honestly, and I love it.

5) You will be kinder

This is such an important skill to learn. Being kind to other’s will get you extremely far in life. The kind people are always the one’s you really admire and remember. Well, you also remember mean people, but mean people suck lol so being kind is the way to go. After being thrown into the fire, that is, academia, you tend to come out a bit more kind hearted. You have been through tough times and you don’t want other’s to suffer the way you did. Kindness is a skill that is learned. Sure you can show kindness, but it takes a long time to learn how to be a kind person. You have the time to learn while you are in grad school. I highly recommend acquiring this skill set.

Final Thoughts

These are a few skills that I truly believe grad students obtain during their years in school. These are much different than the other skills leaned such as self motivation, analytic skills, and balancing their life with work. These skills mentioned above are some that many people look passed and it is kind of sad. The above mentioned skills that you learn in grad school are some of the best you can have. Trust me.

If you went to grad school, let me know in the comments some of the skills that you learned. Maybe we can make this list even bigger! As always, thank you so much for reading my blog. You may have noticed that my posts are getting a bit longer. I am testing out writing longer posts, but fewer of them. Apparently, I still have to do PhD work and not just spend my time blogging, though blogging is more fun. I hope you guys have a great week and I will see you in the next one.

Your Plans Will Change. That’s Ok

Grad students, professions, and those starting their schooling! What did you want to be when you grew up? Think way back to childhood and pretend as if someone just asked you that question. Did you want to be a doctor? A firefighter? A chef? What was your passion at that age? Ok, now that you have done that exercise, I want to ask you, what do you want to be after college or what do you want to be in 10 years? Is it the same as when you were a child? Odds are that it’s not, but some people may surprise me, so let me know in the comments if you are the small percentage that became what you wanted to be.

Man on Motorcycle in the Middle of Road

My story

When I was young, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I was really good at sports as a kid and was set on being the next Derek Jeter. Once I reached about 6th grade, I started cooking and wanted to be a chef. I even was accepted into my high school’s culinary academy. The first two years in college, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Next thing I know, I’m studying hard to get into UF as an Environmental Engineer student. I graduated and became a civil engineer and now I am a biogeochemist. I have come a very long from where I started and that is totally fine. In fact, that shows that I have thought a lot about what I am truly passionate about and what makes me happy.

Pondering mature woman looking out window

Embrace the Uncertainty

It amazes me that people in undergrad knew exactly what they wanted to do in life. Heck, I even knew what I wanted to be. I chose environmental engineering and wanted to save the planet. I talk to a ton of undergrads and they have a 10 year plan locked down, even telling me what projects they want or will be working on, like they are so sure that will happen. The thing is, life is uncertain. (I have written about uncertainty in grad school. Check it out here). I know this for certain because I have experienced such a drastic change in who I am since I graduated with my bachelors in 2016. This is wonderful and I will tell you why.

A Man Having Coffee at a Table

Change

Changing what you want to do is growth. As you get older, you start to really hone in on things that you are truly passionate about and you will want to do those things. When you are young, you may not have the experience yet to know what careers are best. This is why it is Ok to change your plans as you go. I think the best thing to do is find your strengths and focus on those. Once you figure out your strength, you can easily adjust your career goals.

Starting Over is Ok

I have met so many people that have just started over after graduating with their bachelors. They have figured out what they want in life, or at least the next chapter of life. I find this so fascinating and inspiring. People often just give up and say that they “are too old” to start over. These individuals that are starting over realized what they want in life and don’t care how old they are. They just want to create the life that they have always wanted. I truly admire these individuals.

My brother was one of those individuals as well as my old boss. Both really took a look at what they were passionate about and decided to change up what they were doing to pursue those careers. That takes a lot of guts to do because you are giving up what you are comfortable with, stepping out of that comfort zone, and going into the unknown, practically blind. This is super scary to do but both are really thriving with their decisions.

Final Thought

Changing your mind about what you want to do in life and starting over is totally ok and actually very good to do. Life is short, yet long at the same time. What you are passionate about know may not be what you’re passionate about in the next 10 years or so. I tell people all of the time that are graduating that the next job they get is not the last job that they will get. You will change directions in life and that means that you are growing. You are trying to find your place in this universe, even if it’s only for a short amount of time. I highly encourage you to be open to all sorts of careers and know that you might start off loving a career path but that may change drastically one day. You may graduate with a doctorate in engineering but might be a charter boa captain in a few years. Who knows?

One day you might be the individual that is starting over in their life. You may want to start over entirely and become a doctor or lawyer, or own a waffle food truck (you know who you are lol). I think that’s awesome and you should go for it. The worst thing that can happen is you ask for your old job back which will give you even more time to think of your next career move. Life has a crazy way of working out. It may take a bit of time, but things will work in your favor. I hope you find your passion one day.

Lastly

I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next post. If you haven’t already, go check out my blog about surrounding yourself with success (link here). I know you’ll find that to be a good read. Also, check out the rest of my blog at love-and-bean.com. I am trying to get more visitors to my blog and get more of a reach to grad students across the world. If you know someone in grad school, share this blog with them. I would love for them to read and comment with their stories and tips. Let’s build a community.

Surround Yourself With Success

I have met a ton of people in my life. I have made friendships and have ended friendships. And if you are anything like me, or like literally every other person, you have probably done the same. For me, I have gotten to a stage in my life where I am focusing on quality over quantity. As you get older, your friend group tends to shrink. You will have many acquaintances, but very little close friends. Of course, there are always exceptions, but for the most part, your friend group will shrink. This is why finding quality friends and being able to surround yourself with success is optimal, especially when pursuing an advanced degree.

Grad School

Grad school will introduce you to some brilliant individuals. You will meet a ton of like minded individuals as well as many people who may have differing views. Grad school is also a great time to surround yourself with people that will help with your success. The 2 to 8 years in grad school will fly by so quickly that you might not have too much time to prepare for what comes afterwards. This is why it is so important to start early by finding people that will help you along the journey and help you achieve your goals.

surround yourself with success

Surround Yourself With Successful People

If you want to achieve your goals, surround yourself with people that will help you along the way. These people will provide you will the support and care that you need. Grad school is hard. Being alone for most of the day and working on stuff that you know very little about is hard. This is why a really good support system is need to keep you going. I have gotten to the point where the people in my life are there for a reason. They are all really great friends to have with qualities that make them really stand out. I have friends that encourage my blog posts, friends that help keep me in shape, heck, I have friends that just talk fishing with me. Each one has changed me as an individual and made me a much better person.

It is important to surround yourself with people that will help you but it equally as important to help them. For example, many of my friends are grad students and have similar problems that I have. They trust me enough to come to me and talk through these problems. I provide a great service, even if it is just me listening. Just simple acts like this can benefit their life and make you an overall exceptional contribution to their lives.

successful people

Here are a few things that help you surround yourself with success:

1) Find individuals that have similar passions or goals.

This is great because then you can bounce off each other and achieve your goals together. One example for grad students is writing. Make friends with the people that also need to write. You can keep each other accountable, and next thing you know, you both have written your dissertation in a reasonable amount of time. This is a great example of surrounding yourself with success and also being that “successful person” that the other person needs in their life.

2) Just talk with people and see if they have something that benefits your life.

I do not mean just use them to benefit your own life, I mean find good qualities in their life that will help to benefit yours. They can just be a really positive person and that can give you the boost to see the good in life. The person may just love to cook or something and you love to cook. It gives you something to bond over and hone your skills together. Everyone can offer something. Of course many people have different things to offer such as being a partier or maybe they do illegal things. It might be wise to not surround yourself with people like them.

3) Put yourself out there and see who you attract.

This might be a good way of understanding the type of person people see you as. You may think you are a positive person 100% of the time and then attract a lot of negative people. It might actually be good to see this and maybe reevaluate your goals and the type of person you are. Put good out in the world and you will receive good.

4) Go to events that help you succeed.

You will meet a ton of people that want to be successful at events such as conventions, workshops, anything professional related, stuff like that. Of course you can meet a ton of these people elsewhere, but this is a location where it’s pretty dense with possibly like minded and beneficial friends. I go to grad events to meet other grads because I want to surround myself with similar individual. This helps my success. Going to bars, you may find these people but they are harder to find.

5) Lastly, understand that it takes time.

It may take you the whole 2 to 8 years of grad school to find the right people to surround yourself with. This is totally ok. It is not a race to see how many friends you have. It’s about finding quality and that takes time sometimes. I was fortunate to find very helpful and just plain fun individuals to spend my time with. Some people may take longer to find their niche, but it will happen.

Final Thoughts

Surround yourself with success! Everyone wants to grow as individuals and this is a sure-fire way to do just that. This blog post turned out to almost be an appreciation post to my friends. This is also an appreciation post to my audience as well. I have surrounded myself with writers and blogs, and dare I say it, friends. Those in my life and those on the internet have molded me into who I am today. Without everyone’s love, support, and guidance, I wouldn’t be as fortunate as I am today. Thank you all.

Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

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Being in the age of technology is both a blessing and a curse. I mean, think about all of the amazing thigs that you can do on the computer and on your phone! Like holy cow, you can literally do your banking, tweet at a celebrity, tell your vacuum where to go, and you can even tell a Tesla to pick you up from where you are. Like holy smokes! Unfortunately, technology also has introduced us to highlight reels of everyone through social media. No one, well I know a small few, will put up what they are really going through on social media. No, it’s always the best things that are happening in their lives.

It is cool to post stuff like that and I do want to see your trip to Thailand or Russia or anywhere. I really do. But I know that it’s going to make me a bit jealous. This is why it’s important to stay off social media for a bit, sometimes, just so you don’t that jealousy. Staying off social media sometimes also brings us to todays topic. It takes away a platform where you compare yourself to others.

Side view of joyful adult man and pregnant woman in casual clothes comparing bellies and making grimaces while having fun together against white background

Stop comparing yourself, please

I don’t want to go too much into detail why staying off social media or any platform where you are comparing yourself to other’s highlight reel is common. No, today, I want to encourage you to practice not comparing yourself to others in general. It is so easy these days to look down upon yourself and beat yourself up for not having a mansion or a cool car or a rich husband or wife. It is so easy to beat yourself up for mot being the smartest or the best looking. But know that everyone feels bad about something and get jealous when someone else has what they want.

In grad school, the first two or three years are filled with self doubt and comparison. In fact, those are major signs of imposter syndrome which I have written about here. Grad school is one big competition to see who is the smartest, produces the most papers, and graduates without mental health issues. I constantly look at my peers and wish I was as smart as them or productive as them, and you know what, they look at me the same way. I have been told multiple times by those I am envious of that they are envious of my work habits and intelligence. It always makes me feel weird to know that my own thoughts are betraying me. Who would have guessed lol?

I want to suggest a few ways in which you can stop comparing yourself to other’s, especially for those in grad school.

Person Holding Pineapple Fruit Near Pink Wall

Ways to stop comparing yourself to others

1) List out all of the things you are grateful for.

This is a great opportunity to really find out all of the things in your life that you are grateful for. Many people do not have what you have. Write down all of the things in your life that you have, love, a house, a car, the ability to go to the grocery store and get food, even just the fact you can talk to a complete stranger on the phone without having a panic attack. Write it all down and read it every day. You will start to notice that those things that other people have just don’t satisfy what you want in life anymore.

2) Understand that you are not the richest, smartest, best looking, or funniest person in the world and be happy with who you are.

Though you may want to be these things, understand that you aren’t all of these things and that’s ok. Be happy with who you are. Being happy with how you are now is probably the only thing that I wish I was good at. People go their whole lives not being happy with themselves because they aren’t like those people who have money or are smart. It honestly makes me sad because they will always be suffering until they figure out that being happy with who you are is the only way to break that cycle.

From below of crop multiethnic team of professional basketball players gathering and putting hands together while standing on playground before game

3) Focus on your strengths

Everyone is good/great at something. Focus on that! You may really stink at being a writer but you are a math wiz. Don’t spend all of your time being sad because you aren’t writing the next Harry Potter. No, use the gift that you are given to advance mathematics. Same with literally anything that you are good at. Use your skills and strengths to help benefit the world.

4) Celebrate other people! Don’t be upset with their highlights

Celebrating people’s achievements instead of wishing you were them is a great way to show kindness, love, and compassion to others . You have no clue what that person had to do in order to get to where they got. Celebrate them and stop wishing you had what they have. Be happy for their accomplishments.

Delighted friends having lunch in cafe

Final Thoughts

Comparing yourself to others will cause more pain in your life than you can ever imagine. It may cause anxiety, depression, worrying, body dysmorphia, and all types of mental health issues. Practice pinpointing strength in your life and being more grateful for what you have. Happiness is something that we all crave and I think you can get there if you just stop comparing yourself to others.

I hope you all find something to be grateful for today. Also, be kind. It is hard enough these days with Covid. We need to be nicer to each other and lift each other up instead of putting each other down. Also, stay off social media lol. I appreciate you all. Have a wonderful day.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. OnlineTherapy.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.

Why grad students hate undergrads

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Why do grad students hate undergrads? Do grad students even hate undergrads or do the undergrads just think this? So many questions but I do have answers, at least from my experience. Grad students do not hate undergrads at all. In fact, we are friends with quite a few of them. I know for a fact that ever grad student in my department has at least one or two friends that are in undergrad. So no, we do not hate them.

Group of Friends Hanging Out

What We Think About Them

We do, however, find most of them quite annoying lol. Undergrads are like the little brother who annoys you when you were in your teenage years. Grad school is a lot like that time to be honest. We are confused, angry all the time, we tend to eat a ton of food, and we complain literally about everything. So you can see that when someone like a little brother or sister comes up to you, you may find them annoying. This is the case with undergrads.

Generation Difference

Grad students also don’t really know how to interact sometimes with undergrads. There can be a whole generation difference between them. I am 10 years older than the freshman that showed up this year which is a huge difference. I have also been on campus for quite some time so it does get a bit annoying to see all of these young people walking really slowly in front of me, looking for their classes.

Men's White Button-up Dress Shirt

They are Alright, I Guess

We do not hate undergrads at all. I really enjoy when they are around, especially near my office because it really reminds me of the good times that I had when I was in their shoes. I love hearing about their classes and how hard the tests were. Those are the few things that I really miss about undergrad and I get to relive them through the kids walking in the hall.

Grad students reading this blog, please be kind to the undergrads because one of these days they will be in your shoes. Also, remember that you were there not so long ago. They are trying to learn the ways of college and grow. You went through the exact same thing and were the annoying little brother or sister to the grad students at one time. Be kind to them and support one or two while you’re in school still. Maybe become a mentor or heck, maybe even tutor them and make some money.

Final Thought

Grad students do not hate undergrads. We may find them a bit annoying but there is no hatred towards them. If you hate undergrads, please tell us why? I honestly don’t think you can really hate them at all since you were one of them probably not too long ago. I hope you guys have an awesome day and week. If you haven’t already read it, go check out my blog about feeling lost in grad school. It’s a pretty great read.

How Do Grad Students Afford Rent?

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Affordable housing seems to be going away quicker than the money in my bank account. I have noticed that a plethora of apartments have been going up around the campus, yet nothing that is in a reasonable price range. They are all “luxury apartments”. Grad students, though we would love to live there, really just can’t afford that. Most of the grad students actually pay about 40% of their paychecks to rent at UF. I think I am right at that as well, so not much left to save or spend on actually healthy food.

So, how do grad students afford rent? The simple answer is, they sacrifice something in order to pay rent. Many grad students will skip meals, skip seeing the doctor or dentist, skip eating out (which isn’t too bad), and also they will probably not have a car and stay in the town for the majority of their grad school experience. Sacrificing fun stuff as well as important things such as doctor visits is a major way to make sure rent is paid.

Stack of carton boxes of various shapes and sizes scattered in floor near white walls during relocation

Here is how grad students afford rent:

1) They take out more loans.

This should only be done if you really can’t afford housing. Try and find places that are more affordable to reduce spending and reduce your debt as well.

2)They take on other jobs.

This can some times be hard, especially for international students that can’t get other jobs outside of their academic duties. Having a side gig is great but don’t let it get in the way of why you are here, to get your degree.

3) They apply for scholarships.

Many universities have scholarships that you can apply for that will help pay for most things, rent being one of them. If your school doesn’t have this option then try looking for scholarships on sites like Scholarships.Com, Fastweb, ScholarshipOwl, Cappex, Niche, and Goingmerry.

Happy diverse couple using laptop while relocating into new apartment

4) Grad Students get roommates

This is an obvious answer yet can be slightly difficult. Many, and I mean many, of the apartments are pay by room now. There are still pay by apartment complexes but they are very far away from campus. The new things is pay by room which means that the apartment complex can charge more for the whole unit. It is nice because you don’t have to worry about getting a roommate but also quite frustrating when trying to pay. Get a roommate and find somewhere that is relatively cheap to split the cost.

Final Thoughts

Grad school can be extremely costly and housing is one of the biggest chunk of payment. It is hard to pay for rent sometimes, but if you are truly driven and passionate to finish your studies then you will find a way. Above are just a few ways that I found how grad students afford rent. I have done 3 out 4 of these in order to pay for rent and I know how difficult it is. If you are going to grad school, make sure you have a plan. Good luck!

Start Your Semester Off Right

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The beginning of the semester in grad school can bring a ton of different emotions.

1)Happiness, because you get to see friends again and grad school is just a fun time in general.

2)Sadness, because you are doing work again

3) Anxiety, because those deadlines that you have are approaching way faster than you want

4) And lastly, anger, because you ate too many cookies and now have to work out lol

Whatever the feel is, it is completely normal to feel at the beginning of the semester. Wednesday starts the beginning of the semester and I am a bit happy as well as sad. This starts my final year in my PhD, which also means, it is my final year as a student. I am happy because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am almost at the point where I can officially call myself Dr. Ben. But, there is a ton of sadness as well. Over the course of 23ish years, I have come to really enjoy being a student. It is ironic because I used to beg my mom not to take me to school when I wa younger because I hated it. My how things have changed.

I want to write this blog to give you encouragement and make this semester the best. We are starting a new semester with hesitation because of Covid (again) and it can cause a bit of anxiety. If you haven’t read it already, check out my blog about transitioning from zoom class to in person. I give great advice how to deal with covid times in college (link here). This is a great way to start this semester, by being ready.

Anyway, I want to give a few helpful tips on how to start this semester off right in grad school. Let’s get started.

Brown and Black Wooden Chairs Inside Room

Beginning of the semester in grad school

1) Get yourself a planner and stick to it

I do this every year but you can get one for each semester. Get yourself a planner and write down all the important dates for that semester. Spend a few hours getting all of the important dates such as deadlines, exams, maybe assignments, and put them in a planner. It saves so much time and frustration later. trust me when I say that you will forget deadlines! If I don’t write something down, I will immediately forget it. This is why a planner is a great investment. The one I linked to in the subheading is only 10 dollars too so they are fairly cheap.

Woman in Pink Crew Neck T-shirt Holding White Smartphone

2) Create good habits such as waking up early, drinking more water, exercising regularly, etc.

I write about this is great detail. I will link to those blogs (here, here). The beginning of the semester is a great time to develop really good habits for later. The end of the semester gets super hectic and usually the beginning is not too bad. Therefore, the beginning of the semester is the perfect time to develop these habits because you have the time and energy. When you do establish these habits, you will find the rest of the semester will be a piece of cake.

3) Hang out with your friends as much as you can

Ask them how they are doing and how their break was. Go do fun activities and really just hang with them. The beginning of the semester can be extremely emotional because people are leaving the comfort of their families, they are coming back from vacation, or they have been alone for so long that they need someone there. These are all great reasons to go and hang with them. Whenever I come back from vacation or break, I always feel a tad bit lonely. Hanging with my friends usually helps a ton.

4) Practice mindfulness and make it a habit

I have this as a stand alone because I truly believe it shouldn’t be lumped in with just create good habits. This habit is especially important. A strange thing happens at the beginning of the semester, we tend to forget how awful the end of last semester is and how hard things tend to get. By practicing mindfulness (meditation, cognitive behavior therapy, journaling, etc), we can continue feeling like we do at the beginning of the semester, all throughout the semester. Mindfulness helps to reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with school and you will notice how happy you are and at peace even when swamped with work. Mindful.org is a great site to check out even more mindfulness techniques. I specifically use this site.

Man in Beige Blazer Holding Tablet Computer

5) Get to know your professors

Find out everything you need to know about the professors you have this semester. Go to their office hours as well and make sure they know who you are. This will help you a ton because the professor will see you in class, know who you are, and this might just get you a higher grade. Trust me when I say this works. I have gotten to know my professors and have seen then bump my grade up almost a letter grade because I showed up to class and they knew who I was. Plus, I do see them outside of class which made getting letter of recommendation way easier. There are a million reasons why getting to know your professor is great, but I thing grades and letters of recommendation are at the top lol.

6) GO TO CLASS!!!!

I am ending it with a good one. Go to class! Research has shown that going to class will lead to better grades. Yes, you need to pass to get your master’s or doctorate. Plus, you may learn something while there! So start the beginning of the semester in grad school by going to class and finish the semester by going to class lol.

Final Thoughts

The beginning of the semester is super exciting. I always love when people come back all refreshed and ready to go. This semester will be like the last with covid taking out people left and right, but hopefully it won’t be too bad. For those starting this week or next, good luck with the start of the semester! You will be just fine. As always, thank you for reading my blog and also, please go check out my blog about how to enjoy life and grad school. (link here).

My Cat Won’t Let Me Work

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Today is going to be a slower day of work! Thank goodness for the holiday season because nothing gets done and that is totally fine. There are a few things that I need to do, but for the most part, I am going to relax, blog, maybe make some Pinterest pins, and go workout. I am currently working from home right now so I have extra company, my cat Sirius, but my cat won’t let me work. If you have read any of my blog, you know that he is a main component of my life. To give some background, my roommate was fostering him (I pretty much took over that job) and I fell in love with him and his brother. They were both the cutest kittens ever and I wanted them both but knew taking care of a cat was a huge responsibility. Luckily Sirius’ brother was adopted which made getting a cat way easier. I adopted him right away after seeing how unhappy he was at the adoption events at PetSmart.

Assorted Color Kittens

Benefits of my cat

Anyway, Sirius has been a huge part of my life and my mental health and overall an amazing addition to my life. It is always great to come home and hear him meow really loudly because I am back. Definitely a wonderful cat, but he won’t let me work lol! I think all cat owners know of this problem. In times of remote working, our pets are really the ones benefiting from this. They are getting more attention than ever. For me, however, I spend most of my days in my office or my lab. This leave Sirius alone to roam the apartment.

Grey Kitten On Floor

I understand

I understand that he wants attention. It’s hilarious because he’s super shy unless I am on my computer, then he is right up in my face, hitting all of the keys and scratching at my monitor. It definitely makes it hard getting work done, but you know what, that’s good! It can be annoying when they walk into the camera view while you’re on a zoom call, but that’s hilarious. Sirius made an appearance on my qualifying presentation and it made one of my committee members laugh. It was hilarious.

Yes, I won’t get things done in an extremely quick manner, but that’s fine. I am enjoying my cat’s company, he’s having a good time, and we are bonding. It is well worth it.

Photo of Orange Tabby Cat With Red Handkerchief

Get them toys

But if you are having a hard time getting work done because of your cat, might I suggest investing in more cat toys! That has helped me a lot. When I was doing my qualifying exam and working from home for 2 weeks straight, I got Sirius a few toys to keep him busy. Luckily for cat owners, cat’s usually sleep during the day. Sirius was asleep for a decent amount of time but when he was up, he was playing with toys and not bothering me. If you are having trouble with your cat walking all over you ever second, I suggest getting them a few toys. This one specifically is Sirius’ favorite. I think it’s because of the catnip lol. I wrote about the different cat toys that you can get them here. Go check it out if you want ideas.

Final Thoughts

I know this was a bit of a random blog post, but sometimes you just need to write something random. Cat owners know that struggle of trying to work from home and having your cat just flop on you keyboard without warning. It’s cute and annoying but I am happy my cat does it. Plus, he keeps me from doing work which is always good and I enjoy life more. If you have a cat, let me know about them. If you have written about them, link to a blog post about them so we can all check it out.

Habits in Grad School This Year

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Today is December 29th, 2021. We have 2 more days of 2021 and we will be on to a brand new year, hopefully way better than the previous ones. First off, congratulations o getting through another year of Covid. We still have a ways to go but I truly hope that we are at the end of it. If you are getting ready to start grad school in the spring, I welcome you to one of the most exciting chapters of your life. If you are continuing with grad school, still, welcome! I hope you find this blog very helpful. Today I want to talk about a few habits that will be good to pick up this upcoming year and years to follow. I have written about the habits of highly successful grad students (here). I highly encourage you to read those if you are in grad school. Personally, I am going to try and solidify these into my life so things are a bit easier for me. This is my final 2-3 semesters of grad school, so finishing strong is a must.

Habits in grad school are extremely hard to create as well as break. Some really easy habits that grad students may make are sleeping in, not exercising, eating cheap food, blogging instead of writing their dissertation….(me). There are of course really good habits in grad school that you will naturally acquire such as using planners to remember things, taking public transportation instead of driving, and my favorite habit of all, coffee drinking (lol). You will create all types of habits and you may even try and break quite a few. The habits on this list are some that I feel will help me get through my last year and hopefully help you as well. So let’s talk about some habits in grad school that will make 2022 and on the best years of your life.

List of Habits in Grad School

Black and white from below background of Relaxation Deadline and Money titles on gray wall

1) Take more breaks.

Have a trigger that causes you to take breaks, especially in very stressful times. When you are on a time crunch, taking breaks seems like it;s counter intuitive. You want to get the work done and don’t have time to relax. Don’t listen to your brain. Make sure to take a break every 45 minutes or so. You will be able to stay more energetic to finish the job. Trust me, I started taking breaks after about 30 minutes of work and my productivity increased a ton. Here is an article about the benefits of taking breaks. Check it out here.

2) Drink More Water

I am going to drink a lot more water. One thing, you need water to survive (duh). “Research has demonstrated that lack of water to the brain can impair short-term memory function and the recall of long-term memory, as well as cause a variety of symptoms such as brain fog, exhaustion, headaches, sleep issues, stress, anger, and depression. Amongst its many health benefits, water helps with digestion and circulation, as well as helps with the transportation and absorption of nutrients, and helps to limit changes in body temperature in a warm or a cold environment. Drinking water can improve one’s brain health by simply increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain – which, in turn, improves concentration and cognition (supporting memory function) and helps balance moods and emotions, reducing stress and headaches.”-Women’s Brain Health Initiative. My blog is all about ways to help stay focused, motivated, and of course, reduce mental health issues.

Drinking water can help solve or at least help to resolve those problems. Also, drinking water when you first wake up helps you wake up faster. You are probably pretty dehydrated when you wake up, so grab a glass of cold water to rehydrate yourself and get a bit more energy.

Crop ethnic female psychotherapist in formal clothes writing notes in clipboard while listening to black male patient complains in light studio

3) Complain Less

Do you find yourself complaining about a ton of stuff? I know I complain more than I wish, and I am trying to create a habit of thinking of positive things instead of the negative. Grad school can be full of negative things, but I guarantee there are far more positive things to think about. It really isn’t all that bad, but our brain can focus on the negatives so much that it seems that bad. One way to create this habit is to write down things that you are grateful for each day. Focus on what things you were grateful for during that specific day as well. Also, tell yourself a few good things that happened that day, even if they were very small. At first, you may struggle to find good things, but naturally, you’ll start to find it easier to see everything good that happened. Trust me, it works if you try.

Brown Wooden Table With Chairs

4) Take Lunches Outside

I have developed this nasty habit of eating lunch at my desk. Every day, I make my lunch, plop down in front of my computer and eat while watching YouTube videos. I truly believe that separating yourself from your work or just your computer during lunch will make your life a bit better. One thing that happens is you eat slower and recognize how much food you actually have eaten. The key word here is mindfulness lol. I have a bad habit of eating quickly and watching videos at my desk doesn’t help. Also, I think just removing yourself completely from your desk is good for your mental health. I’ll have to research that and provide some manuscripts for you guys to read.

5) Writing at Least 500 Words a Day

I want to emphasize how important this habit is in grad school. I have been in grad school for 5 years now and the best thing that you can do is write every single day. This is such an important skill to acquire. I have even written quite a lot about it. (link here). This is a habit that I am close to making part of me. This blog helps a ton and I have found that days just aren’t really complete unless I write