The Best Things About Grad School

I want to take time today to go over the best things about grad school. I want to list off all of the things that I found to be absolutely amazing about grad school. See, many posts about grad school focus on negative things (I am guilty of this). However, there are a ton of really great things about grad school that I want to discuss today. So, let us get started talking about the best things about grad school.

8 of the Best things about Grad school

best things about grad school

1) The projects you get to work on

I think one of the coolest and best parts about grad school is being able to work on projects that very few people in the world have even come close to doing. You will be working with machines that cost more than mansions. You’ll be working on cutting edge technologies that may change the world one day. Even if you don’t think what you are working on is world changing, it still may contribute to something much greater. I was fortunate enough to work on projects that helped reduce lead poisoning in children. I was able to work with the brightest minds in this field and actually contribute to the overall well-being of society. This is why this is on the list.

2) The People

I have met some of the best people in grad school. This includes students as well as professors. I find one of the best parts about being in grad school, especially a PhD prgram, is you get to really get to know the faculty and staff. In undergrad, professors seemed like a whole different type of species, honestly. Now that I get to spend time around them, I realize that they are just like everyone else. You really get to know them on a personal level.

The friends I have made along the way have been some of the absolute best as well. I have made quite a few friends in grad school that have really made the journey much more enjoyable. They go through the same struggles, they experience the same ups and downs, and they need friends just as much as you do. That combination really makes for close relationships in grad school.

3) Free things!

Grad school is a weird place. You are stuck between being a student and a professional. The best part about this is people still consider you a student and will give you a ton of free or heavily discounted things. I can use my student ID still to get a ton of discounts at food places, stores, and even some amusement parks. There’s also a ton of free events on campus that we are able to go to because we are students still. It is definitely a perk that I am all for.

Freedom in grad school

4) The freedom

I was told once that grad school is amazing because you get to pick which 7 days that you get to work. I have to admit, it took me way longer than it should have to understand that joke. Yes, there is a ton of work to do in grad school, but you get to pick when you want to work or if you don’t want to. You don’t have to come in each day to an office and sit at a desk from 9 to 5 to please upper management. If you have no work to do that day, go have fun. If you want to take off a week to just lounge at the pool, go right ahead.

Of course, don’t get behind on work, but you have the freedom to do this. This is also great because some people work best in the morning. Some work best at night. This allows you to work when you want and not when someone tells you to.

5) The support you get from the school

Ok, this might be a bit controversial, depending on your school, but for UF at least, there is a significant amount of support. Some areas can be improved, but I am very happy with the amount of support that is given to grad students. If you have a problem, there is someone always available to help. I am constantly being asked if everything is great and if I need any help with anything. It could just be my college particularly but I think the university does provide a ton of support for their students. We even have a union that adds extra support.

learn what you want in grad school

6) The ability to learn what you want

In undergrad, you will take a billion classes that just don’t interest you. Grad school is about taking the classes that do interest you ad becoming an expert in that field. I haven’t taken a class in grad school that I didn’t want to take. Even the statistics course I took was on the list of courses I wanted to take. I absolutely love that I am able to take a class in a subject that i am passionate about and continue to do so all throughout grad school. It is definitely a major perk about going to grad school.

7) Just Being Back in School

I won’t lie to you guys, I missed being in school when I was working full time. In fact, that was a major factor in coming back for a master’s degree. I love the freedom you have as a college student and how much fun it was. The smells, the feels, the free events, the parties, everything! It was so sad to leave that after undergrad. Now I am back and can tell you that it was nice being back. I don’t party as much and I surely don’t do nearly half the stuff I did in undergrad, but I am very happy to be part of the experience again. Undergrad was fun so might as well do it again lol.

8) The Doors that Open because of Grad School

This is the last thing on the list and one of the most import. Grad school will open doors to careers that you didn’t know existed. For me, I was introduced to many opportunities for careers that would not be available to me unless I received a doctorate. Grad school prepares you for very unique opportunities and that’s dope. It may close a ton of doors, but the jobs you do get are way better anyway. Yes it is a lot of work to get to these positions, but it is totally worth it.

Final Thoughts

I hope this list was helpful. If you are on the fence about grad school, really look into it. Take a look at my post about pros and cons of grad school (link Here) if you are trying to decide. I personally found the whole experience of grad school to be 100% worth it and I think you will too. If you have any questions, please contact me at benswaringen@yahoo.com. I will see you all in the next one. Peace!

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!

If I were to Redo my PhD

My doctorate is coming to an end. In a few months, I will be Dr. Ben and off on another adventure, this time in Miami. There are quite a few emotions that I have gone through in the last few weeks. Sadness, anger, extreme happiness, and also a ton of nostalgia. I will be leaving the one thing that I have known for the past 25 years of my life…school. But it is time that I move on to big and exciting things. I have a job lined up in Miami, so I will be heading off to do that next year. I’m very excited. Today, I wanted to discuss what i would do differently if I could redo my PhD. I have thought a lot about this and want to share with you what I would do if I were to go back for a PhD all over again.

redo my phd

The First 2 years

Let us start off with the first 2 years and what i would do differently. These years are crucial to your doctorate. Many people say that the last few years are the most important, but I strongly believe the first 2 are the most important. These are the years where you decide if getting a PhD is even worth it. You are getting valuable experience and are able to leave and master’s out if you want, at this stage. You also learn a ton about yourself. These years will test you to see if academia is the right fit.

So what would I do differently these years if I could?

First off, I would spend more time enjoying life and trying new things like playing sports or exploring the college. I would join clubs, build friendships, and just have fun. These years, I would treat school like a 9 to 5 job and leave every day at the same time. I wouldn’t go home to do more work, I’d go do things that I enjoy. Because these years are so crucial to your success, if you burn out, you probably won’t last very long.

For work, I would start small in these years. I would try and get into a few projects that maybe other students are doing. This would be good because then you can get an authorship on their papers. It would give a ton of really good experience too. The first 2 years are going to be a bit slower, so take full advantage of that but don’t work yourself to death.

During my Qualifying Exam Year

If I were to redo my PhD, I would focus a ton on changing what I did during this year. I worked myself to death and hit major burn out during my qualifying exam. If you want to read more about it, go check out my post (link HERE). I would definitely redo this part of my doctorate and work a lot less. My proposal turned out to be like 150 pages long when in reality, it was supposed to be like 30 pages max. I went overboard and that really led to a world of hurt when I couldn’t do work for a while afterwards.

During the last years

I am in the final stretch and, yes, there are things that I wish I could do differently during these times. The first, and most important, is talk more with my adviser on what I need to accomplish to finish grad school. Communication is key during these last few semesters and you really need to be on top of things. I was not which has caused some pretty difficult things to happen. I wish I communicated more and was on the same page about everything.

The second thing that i would change would be to relax more. It is tough. I have had many late nights and early mornings in the office and lab. This has led to some really mentally taxing and physically taxing weeks. I developed stomach pains, addiction to caffeine, and my weight began really fluctuating a ton which is not good. I pushed myself harder than I had ever done and I am here to tell you that it is not worth it. Hard work is good to an extent. Once you starting getting negative effects of it, you have gone too far. That is something that I would redo if I could.

Lastly, I would spend more time with my friends. I, honestly, haven’t been a good friend because I have put work above my relationships with others. I gave up kickball, my parttime job, and anything fun in order to finish this degree. It wasn’t worth it. Yes, you have to make some sacrifices, but I gave it all up. Do not be like me and give everything up for one more extra hour of work, or one more experiment. It really isn’t worth it.

Other things that I would redo

Ok, so lets talk about some other things I would do if I were to redo my PhD. I’ll start off with this, go to more conference. I have only been to 1 conference thanks to COVID…I wish I could go to more. Another thing I would do if I were to redo my PhD is apply to scholarships constantly. There’s so much money and funding out there. I wish I took advantage of that. Unfortunately I did not.

I would also take up more hobbies or learn more skills. I think learning coding would be fun or possibly learning how to play an instrument. Instead of focusing all of my time reading boring papers about lead, I might use that time to hone some skills. I don’t know, it sounds like a good idea.

Final Thoughts

I do not regret getting a PhD. This was one of the craziest, most exciting, challenging, times of my life and was well worth it. The effort I put into it was a bit much, but it all worked out. I will be a doctor soon and that is something that is pretty darn cool. If you are finishing up grad school, let me know what you would do differently if you could redo it again.

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

So, When are you done with school?

Ah, the most asked question while I have been in grad school. Every single week, someone asks when I will be done with grad school and my program. Each time that it comes up, I roll my eyes and say the same thing, “soon, I hope”. I don’t mean to roll my eyes, it just happens. This is a question that every grad student will get and you just have to come up with a good way to tell the person that it is a long process and you don’t really know when it will be over, if it ever will. So, today, I just want to write about the frustration of this question and how I handle it.

When will you be done with grad school

Why people ask it in the first place.

People are curious about what you do in grad school and why you are doing it. Many master’s programs are set time limits and only classwork focused. People pretty much already know when that will be over so they may not ask you. If they do ask when you’ll be done with grad school, you can confidently tell them. In a PhD program, you actually don’t know when you’ll be done, especially when you first start.

People will ask PhD students when they are done because they have really no idea the process that happens. They might actually be curious, but it can be annoying for the student because it is the one question that really get’s brought up all of the time. People want to know when your major milestones are and the question of “when will you be done with grad school” is always an easy one.

Why It is FRUSTRATING

I get asked this a ton. My family wants to know. My neighbors want to know. Heck, just random strangers want to know. I get asked all the time. I usually tell them a year or possibly two. Now that I am at the end, I can safely say that I have 2 months left, which is exciting. But for the longest time, I had to make stuff up. Sometimes I would say that I really didn’t know when I would be finished. This is not an answer that people like to hear. This is also why it is so frustrating.

See, in a PhD program, it’s not like school. You don’t just have to get a certain number of credits then move on. No, you have to contribute to the research field, publish papers, get certain credits, pass a qualifying exam, pass your defense, and everything in between. I know people that finished a PhD in 4 years, and I know people that finished in 7. You aim for like 4.5 to 5 years but it all depends on your work, luck, and if all of the machines you have to use are working…lol.

More Frustration

It is also very frustrating because it adds a sense of urgency. When someone asks me how long I have left, I feel rushed. I feel like people want me to get out of school and stop messing around. A PhD is not school, it is a job/apprenticeship. When I hear people asking how long I have left, it’s the equivalent of asking a full time worker how long they have left working their job. It’s a dumb question. Of course, unless you are familiar with the PhD life, you won’t know what I mean by this. Everyone thinks that it is just school, when it really isn’t. Sorry for the rant.

What to do if someone asks you when you’ll be done?

Be nice. Do not show frustration because people will think you are being rude. If you just started, just say that you just started and it will be a long process. If they want years as an answer, just make a joke and say something like “I think they said 10 to 15 years” I do this as a joke and it always works. People won’t understand that you will never know when you are done. They just won’t. The best thing to do is just try and steer clear of having to answer that question or just be nice when it does come up. It will come up all of the time, I promise.

Final Thoughts

This is a bit of a shorter blog post. It is mostly a post for those that are frustrated by the question “when are you done with grad school?” It really is a question that grad students hear way too much and have to defend themselves each time. It seems like a harmless question, but it is one that causes a ton of hardship for grad schoolers.

If you are reading this, and know someone in grad school. Instead of asking them “when will you be done with grad school?” ask them, “how are things going in grad school?” or, better yet, “any cool findings in your research?” I think the last one is the best because we tend to find really cool things while doing research but have no one to talk to about it. I know, especially for me, this is a question that i would love to get. Unfortunately, it’s not one I ever do.

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!

Nervous About Starting Grad School

Grad school is an amazing experience. That’s all I really want you to know in this post. I have had a wonderful time throughout my 5 and a half years as a graduate student, but starting off was nerve wracking. Being nervous about starting grad school is completely normal. Here is a secret that no one really wants you to know. Everyone is nervous at first when starting grad school. I don’t know a single person that wasn’t.

See, humans are a funny bunch of individuals. We tend to hyper focus on the negative “what ifs” that come with everything. This usually leads us to get nervous in the first place because we think “What if I fail? What if I hate my classes? What if, what if, what if!!!!” We get in this terrible cycle of what ifs and that really makes the beginning of grad school a scary experience. I am her today to tell you that being nervous about starting grad school is completely normal and you will get over that almost immediately. I am also going to share with you today some ways to handle the nerves and how to make the most of grad school at the beginning.

nervous about starting grad school

Reasons why you are nervous

1) Feeling nervous starting grad school because of uncertainty

There is a ton of uncertainty in grad school. More than undergrad, that’s for sure. I believe that uncertainty is one of the major factors that leads to people being nervous. They truly don’t know what will come next. I’ve been in this exact situation. Starting grad school was filled with nerves because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if I would fail or thrive. The uncertainty really caused me to worry a ton until I actually started and found out that everything was just fine.

One way that you can conquer this aspect of starting grad school is just exposing yourself to grad school. Let me explain. See, when you don’t know what is going to happen, you tend to start thinking of all the bad things that can occur instead of the good things. One way of overcoming this is exposure therapy. There will be many things that might make you nervous and the best way to overcome that feeling is to just do it. It takes a bit of courage, but it’s well worth it.

Say, you are nervous about going into the gym for the first time at school. If you gain a bit of courage and just go there, you will show your brain that it’s not as scary as you made it seem. This will make it easier to go again, because you know you are not in any danger. Same with classes. You will be nervous and won’t want to go. Once you go to your first class, I guarantee you will feel way relieved afterwards.

nervous in grad school and making friends

2) Feeling nervous about making friends

Making friends is a very exciting and nerve wracking experience. Every year, I have to go out and make new friends because all of my current friends are leaving. That is a struggle about being in a PhD program. Anyway, I find that it get’s a bit harder the higher you get up in your education. Grad school is as high as you will get which means that making friends might be a bit of a struggle. It is no the end of the world, though. I actually have a few posts about friendships in grad school. Go check them out here and definitely check out this one about how to make friends in grad school. All of these posts are quite helpful.

Friendships will take a bit of time in grad school. It will make you a bit nervous when you are working a while and haven’t made many or any friends. Give it time. I promise that it will happen but might take some time. For me, I had some friends from undergrad that were still in school, so that made it easier. When they left, I had to work to make friends. It took a few months and a few classes, but I managed to gain a ton of really good friends. Just because you don’t have many friends at first, doesn’t mean you won’t make a ton.

3) Nervous about the amount of work

nervous about work in grad school

This is a justifiable reason to be nervous. The workload in grad school can be a bit overwhelming. Some days you will work 3 hours (2 of those probably sending emails or reading) and other days, you may be in the lab for 10 hours and then writing 3 papers afterwards. This is what grad school is all about lol. Though I say it is justifiable, it does not mean that you have to be nervous about it. Yes, there will be a ton of work, but you will most likely be able to handle it. Heck, you got through undergrad just fine. Actually, you did so well in undergrad that you were accepted into a grad program. You can do the work.

A way to get over being nervous for doin g the work, or being nervous about the amount of work that will come, is to plan things out and be proactive. Yes, start early. Many people complain about the amount of work they have to do because they aren’t ready for it. They may put it off until the last minute, causing more and more to pile up before it becomes overwhelming. This is totally on them and can be completely avoided if you prepare. This means starting assignments early, staying on top of deadlines, and, unfortunately, giving up all you can drink Wednesdays to get work done. I promise you that if you prepare, you will thrive.

nervous about moving somewhere for grad school

4) Felling nervous about starting grad school in another state or country

This topic can be a whole post by itself. Many people move away to another city/state/country to go to grad school. This is a huge deal for most people and can make you pretty nervous. Once again, remember that this is normal. Being nervous about moving anywhere is normal. At first you may be nervous about just being alone in an area you aren’t familiar with. Don’t fret. Think of it as an adventure and you are just starting out. All adventure start off scary but will, in time, get quite comfortable.

If you are starting grad school in a totally new area, know that it’s ok to be nervous about it. The best thing that you can do is just go out and explore. Familiarize yourself with everything as soon as possible. This will help you settle right in. You will have to give it a few months to truly get acclimated, but it will happen. During this time, call people that are close to you. Talk with them on a daily basis, which will help you get some comfort in your life during this transition. Also know, grad school goes by quickly. If you don’t like where you are, you’ll be out of there in no time. That though usually calms the nerves.

Final Thoughts

In the end, being nervous about starting grad school is actually a normal thing. I would be more concerned if you weren’t nervous to be honest. You are starting something completely new and of course there will be some nervousness that comes from it. Just know that these feelings are fine, normal, and will go away soon. You will start off a nervous wreck, but will soon find yourself in a very comfortable position. Grad school, as I said before, is a wonderful and exciting experience. It will have it’s ups and downs, but it is certainly nothing to be nervous about. For those that are starting in the fall or spring, welcome. You are definitely welcomed here.

Sorry about the lack of posts guys! I have been travelling a ton and that has really reduced the amount of screen time that I have. I promise that I will post more often from here on out and I hope you are all having a wonderful summer so far. It is getting hot out there, so make sure to drinking plenty of water lol. As always, I hope you are all having a wonderful day. If you haven’t already, go check out my post about getting ahead in college (link here). I will see you all in the next one. 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.

How Can I Have Fun in Grad School

Do you ever ask yourself, “how do I have fun in grad school?” Wait, you do? So, if you do, you’re most likely a grad student yourself. You have probably exhausted your resources and have come to this blog to get answers to the toughest questions that you have. This is a tough question, I won’t lie to you. It is one of the toughest questions that you can ask yourself while in grad school. Having a fun time while in grad school is essential to your success, and it helps you not hate every minute you’re here.

Having fun while in grad school is not rocket science. If you are one that is in grad school for rocket science, you may find it to actually be fun. So, in that case, having fun is rocket science. Sorry, I am getting off track. Anyway, there are many ways to make the most out of grad school and have fun while doing it. People often read the horror stories of going to grad school and how they had a terrible time. This does not have to be you. Sure, there may be some things that aren’t fun about grad school, but you can have way more fun and exciting things than not fun and unexciting things.

So today I want to talk about a few things in grad school that really makes it fun and exciting. These things can be related to your academics, but I want to kind of shy away from that and find fun things that you can do outside work that will make the whole experience so much better. So, let us get started with the ways in which you can have fun while in grad school.

ways to have fun in grad school

Ways to Have Fun in Grad School

There are a gazillion ways to have fun while going to grad school. Yes, even if you are going to law school, you can still have fun (after you read 15 chapters). Grad school is not supposed to be 60 hours of work a week, no life, and no happiness. No, it’s supposed to be a time where you learn how to do research or be a lawyer or be a doctor. It’s a time in your life where you are able to mess up, and learn from those mistakes without much repercussion. It is a tough time, but you will be able to have some fun, I promise you this.

1) Have a friends group to have fun in grad school

The absolute bets thing that you can do in order to have as much fun as possible is find some friends. Going through grad school alone is something that no one needs to experience. Just the feeling of being alone is sending shivers down my spine. Get a group of friends to just hang out with and talk to. They can be part of your research group, people from other places, or you can use a phone app to find friends that are similar to you. Heck, use tinder and meet friends that way lol.

Having friends can really make the whole experience of grad school so much better. You might be in school for 3 to 8 years, so having people to vent to, go to dinner with, or just hang out will make those years the best. If you are like me, and have had trouble in the past finding friends, go check out my post about how to get friends in grad school (link here). These methods helped me significantly.

Pets in grad school

2) Get a Pet

Probably one of the best decisions that I have made was to get a pet while in grad school. Coming home to a very loud kitty is a great way to brighten up my day. Sirius, my cat, loves to run around and play with toys, but he especially loves to play with the cat wand that I bought him. This means that I have to engage in his play. Have you ever not had fun while watching a cat chase after a mouse on a string? It’s so much fun and get’s you out of the work zone. He has truly made the grad school experience so much more enjoyable and fun because he forces me to have fun.

This is the same with dogs. Taking a dog to a dog park and watching them play is down right awesome. Bring a tennis ball and play fetch with them. What’s even more fun about taking a dog to a dog park is there are other dogs to interact with. if you play fetch, you might have your dog and 20 others chasing after the ball. You can’t be miserable watching all those furry animals chasing after a tennis ball. It’s just not possible.

3) Learn to Love The Journey

Did you know that you can make everything in your life not fun if you change your mindset to a way where you think of only negative things? Yeah, it can happen. Even going to a party with all of your friends can be terrible if you only think about the negative things. What I am saying is, the amount of fun you can have is solely up to you and the way you look at things. The journey to getting a degree is long, but if you have a positive mindset, the journey can be a fun and exciting one. If you thing negatively about the journey, all fun tends to disappear.

I found that counting my blessing each day and really focusing on the positive aspects of grad school has significantly made it more enjoyable and fun. I am in a good mood most of the time which really helps me to find all of the fun things that come with grad school. It’s easy to have fun at work when you are already in a good mood. Try it out and see if it works for you.

Sports to have fun in grad school

4) Join a sports league

I currently am on a kickball team that plays every Wednesday. This gives me a lot to look forward to each week and a way to relieve stress. Plus, I get to have a fun time playing kickball against friends. Joining a sports league can be quite a rewarding experience. You get to stay active, meet people, and for at least an hour, the only thing you worry about is playing. Having fun is the ultimate goal (and winning for some) and you get that when you join sports leagues. If you are more competitive, there are always leagues that place really good players against each other. If you want to just go out and have fun, there are a ton of leagues that do that too.

Intramurals are also extremely fun and you get to meet a ton of people. Grad students love joining theses leagues and you are bound to interact with quite a few. I played flag football with only grad students and had a wonderful time. We lost every game but had so much fun playing.

Hobbies in grad school

5) Start a new hobby

You can start a new hobby or continue with the ones that you have now. I have a few hobbies that I actively participate in to make my grad school experience way more fun. One is wood carving. It is a great way to learn patience and you get to create some really cool things. Another hobby that I have is fishing. Unfortunately, I can’t do this as often because I am on a crunch to finish my doctorate. Fishing is my all time favorite hobby and kept me very happy all throughout grad school. Another hobby of mine is working out. This is great because it helps me stay in shape, reduces stress, and makes the day a bit more fun.

I highly suggest trying new hobbies while in grad school. One hobby that I strongly suggest trying is blogging. I started blogging in grad school and it has helped my writing skills, made the day more enjoyable, and I have been able to make friends from it. Whatever the hobby is, go for it. If it makes these years much more fun then it’s totally worth it.

6) Go to as many events as your schedule allows

One thing that truly makes grad school a great experience is the amount of things you can do for free at your school. You are still technically a student so you get all of the perks that come with being a student. One of those is being able to go to events for free or at a very reduced rate. During the semester, there are millions of things that you can do. During the day, take an hour or so and go to one or two of these events. It is a great break from work and it will make the day better and more fun. As grad students, we do sometimes forget that we can leave our offices and labs. Make it a habit to leave during the day and go enjoy a free event or something for an hour.

Final Thoughts

These are 6 ways to have fun in grad school, pretty much on a daily basis. Grad school is a great time to have fun and be active. You have a ton of freedom in grad school to be able to do wonderful and fun things. It does not have to be a harsh/negative experience. In fact, grad school may be the best time in your life. Take full advantage of that.

I hope you all are having a wonderful time in grad school. I certainly am and I truly give credit to all of the above things that I covered. Try some of them and see how well it makes the experience for you.

So this is it for the night. If you have any more things to add to this list, please comment below. Also, this post (here) is a really good addition to my list. Go check that out. Hopefully the comment section is working. I haven’t had many people comment on my posts lately, so I don’t know. I hope you all have a wonderful week and I will see you in the next one. Peace!

Is It Ok To Fail In Grad School

I have written before about failure in grad school. Today, I want to write a little more about my opinions on the term “failure”. Today’s topic is, “is it ok to fail in grad school?” The answer is, it depends, of course. I do think that failure is good in grad school and also encouraged. There are many ways in which you can fail in grad school, some that are helpful, and some that are not so helpful. So let us dive into what I think about failure in grad school and why it is a blessing and a curse.

fail grad school

Why is it ok to fail in grad school?

Grad school is all about failing. In fact, you should fail ever day until you eventually get it right. The thing that many people have a hard time with, especially when they start, is you are supposed to fail. You are supposed to find out what works, try different things, and explore the unknown. Research is failing until you eventually get it write. In undergrad or even the first few years of grad school, you’ll be taking courses and doing work that probably has a correct answer to it.

It’s like math, there may be a few methods to get the answer, but you have to do them correctly or you won’t get to that answer. If you don’t do it right, you’ll fail an exam or paper. In research, no one knows the correct way to do stuff, that’s why you are doing experiments to figure out how to do it. You are bound to get it wrong quite a bit.

when it's ok to fail in grad school

When it’s ok to fail in grad school from the start

When you first start you graduate studies, you will be used to the question/answer life that you have learned to love your whole academic career. You’ll have a research question and you want to find the answer. You are programmed to look for a way to get that answer or look for someone who go that answer before. The thing is, your research question is unique and may not have a clear way to et that answer. It is up to you and maybe a select few to find that. This will mean that you are going to fail a ton of experiments trying to get an answer. That is part of the process and it is good for you.

Here’s another reason why failure in grad school is important. I overheard my adviser talking to one of our master’s students the other day. Apparently, the student was getting upset because they were having a problem with the program that was being used for their experiments. They were saying how it was a terrible thing to happen and how they failed. My adviser gave a really good piece of advice to them. He said “it’s good that these things happen because now you know how to fix it. Without having the experience of everything going wrong, how will you know how to handle it later on?” I thought this was perfect. See, if things always go the way you want them to, what happens when everything goes wrong? You won’t know what to do in those situations.

When is it not ok to fail in grad school?

Ok, so all failure is not the same. When you are in grad school, failing experiments, learning from your mistakes, and trying over is a plus. So when is it not ok to fail in grad school? That comes down to your course work and preparing for your qualifying exams. Course work is important. The first two years of grad school will most likely consists of just coursework. Failing these classes is bad and can get you kicked out of the program. The good thing about grad school courses are that they are pretty difficult to fail.

Yes, there are programs out there that are very difficult, and I am speaking on my experience. But, I have had many friends in grad school and they all say the same thing, grad school courses are easier in most cases than undergrad. This has been extremely true, especially with my degree in environmental engineering. I have taken some pretty difficult classes, but they were all in the years as an undergrad.

don't fail the classes in grad school

Don’t fail the coursework

Failing your coursework in grad school can really be hard on you. You need to pass in order to be able to do research later on. This is why it’s imperative to do well in these classes no matter what. The research will be there. If you are in the first two years of a doctorate and you’re prioritizing research over passing classes then you are doing it wrong. Research is important, but wait until you are only doing research. Pass the classes first.

The Qualifying Exam

This is something that is bad to fail, especially if you want to get your PhD. You have to pass the qualifying exam, and man is it tough. It is different for all departments, but if you are curious about it, go read my blog about taking my exam. (link here). It occurs usually after the third semester of your PhD, though it can be later. If you pass this exam, you become a PhD candidate and are welcomed as a researcher.

I know people that have failed this exam. More times than not, people will pass. It’s difficult, but totally doable. If you happen to fail though, you will have another attempt at it before they basically tell you to leave with a master’s. This isn’t all bad because some people start their PhD journey not knowing what they want. If they fail the qualifying exam then they can go on their way and get a job. It’s not bad unless you really want a PhD, then you really need to focus on passing.

learn to fail in grad school

You Didn’t Fail, you Just Learned What Not To Do

I often feel like a failure in grad school. It has taken me quite a long time to be ok with failure and accept that it is part of the process. I have learned so much these past 3.5 years in my doctoral program and I have to thank persistence for that. See, without me failing, I wouldn’t have learned anything. If I got everything right, I would have missed out on the whole learning process that comes with grad school. I tell new students all the time that a PhD is an apprenticeship. you are not here because you know everything. If you did, you would have 50 doctorates, a Nobel Prize, and probably be on Jeopardy. you are here to learn how to do research and learn how to fail until things go right.

Everything should be a learning experience. If an experiment goes wrong, write that down. Don’t repeat what made it fail. Brain storm and see how to do it better. This is what advisers want to see. Yes, they would love for you to get publishable data, but they also want someone that can do research and become an expert in their field. As long as you learn something from every failed attempt, you won’t be considered a failure. Remember, “a smooth sea never made a great sailor”-FDR.

Final Thoughts

It’s finally happening guys, my posts are getting ranked on Google. People from all around the world are reading my posts and I couldn’t be happier. I started this blog to help grad students and I think there are people out there that might be helped because of me. This is exciting. Anyway, I hope you guys are doing well and having a wonderful month. It’s summer so comment with any plans that you have for the next few months. If you have a post that you want me to write about, send me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. Heck, send an email saying hello. Also, if you haven’t checked it out yet, go see my blog about grad school memes. Here is a link to that (link).I will see you all in the next one. Peace!

Life in Grad School

If you are a follower of this blog, you can pretty much see how life is for me while in grad school. Life in grad school has been a wonderful combination of ups, downs, twists, turns, and backtracks. Yes, it has been quite the journey and this is fairly similar to other’s who has joined me in my quest to obtain a doctorate.

When you think of life in grad school, you probably think of studying a ton, writing more papers than you ever wanted to, no time, and all other very negative things. The truth is, that usually occurs for a very small group of individuals. Also, you probably went on to some forum and read about everyone complaining about grad school and how terrible it is. You know what people love to do? Complain. Grad school is one of those things where it is easy to find something to complain about. Thankfully, life in grad school is much more than just work. It is a time to truly explore yourself and figure out who you are, and where you want to go.

life in grad school

What is Life Like in Grad School

Life in grad school is a combination of being an undergrad and having a full time job. You are not quite an undergrad anymore but not fully in the working field quite yet. You probably won’t have a very set schedule and might find that a bit hard to deal with, especially when you first start grad school. Let’s look at what life is like for master’s students as well as the crazy doctoral students.

What Life is Like in a Master’s Program

I write quite a bit about what you will be doing as a master’s student (link here). As a master’s student, your life will be a ton of classwork and maybe handling a parttime job, or even a full time job on top of going to school. My life, while in a master’s program was working as an engineer full time and getting my degree on the side. Yes, I was busy, but I chose that life and knew what was going to happen. It did not impact my job performance, but my job did impact my class performance.

Life in a master’s program can be really really really easy and laid back, or it can be excruciatingly difficult and busy. I am saying that it is as difficult as you make it. Some master’s programs are extremely easy. I have had friends do 1 hour of work a week for their entire grad school experience and spend the rest of the time lounging at the pool, going to the gym, and doing everything else they wanted. I have known individuals that spend more time at the lab than any Ph.D. student I know, getting lab work done, writing papers, and doing homework. These are the ones that are extremely stressed, but they chose that life.

Life for the easy master’s degree

If you choose the easy master’s degree then I suggest maybe getting some work experience or really honing on some skills. You don’t have to be busy 24 hours a day. In fact, you can focus on some skills or work while at the pool. It is a great way to make the most out of this time. If you just want to relax all day and enjoy the next two years, go right ahead. That honestly sounds like a dream!

Life for the hard master’s degree

The individuals that work all of the time. Their time in grad school will look a bit different. They may juggle 50 things at once and cry each night, but they are on a journey and have a set goal. Life in grad school for them will not be as fun as the easy path. They will make sacrifices in order to hit these goals. Nothing is wrong with that, but I suggest to these individuals to take time off and enjoy the two years they have in grad school. Once you start working, it kind of goes down hill.

Sometimes, you have a very difficult degree that you go into and you will need to work a ton. Engineering is especially tough and can cause you to spend a great amount of time in the library. Life for hard majors will look a lot like the person above. Luckily, it’s only 2 years. You can do it.

Life in grad school

What Life is Like in a PhD Program

Life as a Ph.D. student can have its ups and downs for sure. You are likely going to be in school for a very long time. This means you’ll experience everything there is that goes with grad school. At first, you’ll most likely be focused on school work. After your qualifying exam, you’ll go exclusively towards research. So, you really get the best of all worlds lol.

Life as a Ph.D. student has been quite a journey. I have experienced depression, anxiety, job satisfaction, job dissatisfaction, highs, and lows, and have learned more about myself than ever before. My life, as well as the other Ph.D. students, are fairly straightforward. We do work a ton, but we love to get out of the lab and do other things. Me, I play kickball and have a part time job. I love to go to the gym and hang with my cat, Sirius. Life in a Ph.D. program is almost like having a full time job that works you to death and pays you less than minimum wage. You try your best to finish the job and move on to something better while also trying to life a fulfilling life.

What it’s really like

For some people, research is their whole life. They wake up, go to work, then come home and go to bed. There is nothing wrong with them, but they do tend to burn out quickly. Then, there is the majority of PhD students that work 40-60 hours a week, have extracurriculars on the side, and enjoy hanging out and living a very normal life outside academia. It is quite a shame that people portray all PhD students to be workaholics that are burnt out and have no life outside academia. It’s simply not true. We have lives and we want to do things that aren’t related to our work. We are passionate about research, but we know that there is much more to life than being in the office.

Overall Life in Grad School

Overall, life in grad school is a fun time that will have its ups and downs. You are here to learn about complex ideas and figure some things out that help push the boundaries of knowledge. That doesn’t mean that you have to be a robot and work constantly. No, life in grad school is about becoming a researcher or lawyer or doctor but also figuring out who you are, where you want to go, and who you want in your life. I find that the flexibility in grad school allows me to accomplish all of these things and has definitely made me a more well-rounded individual. So, if you are readung this and thinking about whether or not to go to grad school, I say do it. Don’t be scared of hard work but know that your life won’t only be in the office. It will be all over the place, exploring so much.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this to be a decent post about life in grad school. I find that many people are scared because they hear so many horror stories. People love to tell you the negative things that come with their experience but leave out the positives. Grad school is a positive experience and we are normal people, just hotter (more degrees ;P). Your life may look a bit different in grad school, but that is not always a negative thing.

Well all, I hope you have had a wonderful week. It’s the weekend (when currently writing this). Do you guys have any fun things planned for the upcoming week or months? Let me know in the comments below. I hope to see you guys in the next blog. Peace.

More Graduate School Memes

In grad school, things can be quite tough. One way to overcome the sadness and stress of grad school is with more graduate school memes! In fact, today, I have quite a few graduate school memes for you to look through. Hopefully they give you some hope to finish your program and make the most out of this experience. Trust me, finding the good things about grad school will 100% make the experience so much better.

If you like this post, go check out my other meme post for more chuckles. Here is a link to that page (link). Also, if you want to read through some comics and read some grad school jokes, check out my post about that. The link for that is (here). So, let’s get into some good graduate school memes, why don’t we?

My Other Favorite Graduate School Memes

These next few graduate school memes are on the Facebook page “grad school memes with relatable themes”. If you aren’t familiar, I suggest going to check it out.

graduate school memes
by Nick Piskurich

This is me when I was getting ready for my qualifying exam lol.

by Megan Marie

I have taken a few coding classes and can definitely relate to this. As long as it runs when my professor runs it then I am good to go.

graduate school memes
by Maddy Frazier

I don’t think I’ve cried and laughed this much at a meme before lol. This one actually hits pretty hard. Kind of goes well with my post about productivity.

by Jessie Li

This one might not be for everyone, but I can relate to this one. Towards the end of your PhD, you’ll definitely understand this.

Some memes not on Facebook, I think they aren’t

graduate school memes

You are doing enough, don’t listen to them!

If you want more memes that will really make you laugh, go over to cheezburger.com. They have some really juicy graduate school memes for you.

graduate school memes

I think everyone that has ever published anything can really relate to this. For me, it was reviewer 1. Reviewer 2 was actually very nice to me.

graduate school memes

graduate school memes
cheezburger
cheezburger

Final Thoughts

I hope these memes satisfied your craving lol. I found these to be absolutely hilarious and I wanted to share them with you. If you have some good memes, post a link to the page. Anyway, I hope you guys and gals have a wonderful day and I will catch you in the next one. Peace.

Being a Broke Grad Student: It’s Not That Bad!

Today was one of those days where the universe reminded me that I am a broke grad student. I went to the grocery store today to get stuff to make ramen. Yes, I fit the stereotype and eat ramen in grad school. So, I don’t just get ramen, I get peppers, garlic, bok choy, and of course, ramen noodles. I had a gift card, so everything was pretty much free for me, but I saw that just a few items was almost the whole gift card. The cashier was even complaining about the prices of everything.

It sort of made me realize just how broke grad students really are. I didn’t have this problem before, but the inflation has really taken a toll on everyone. See, thankfully, as a PhD candidate in engineering, I make more than most grad students. But recently, the prices of everything have really caused me to have to cut a ton of things out of my life just to be able to get food for me and my cat Sirius. Now, this isn’t a post about how poor we all are and how life sucks being in grad school. No, I want to make a post about how being poor in grad school can be a blessing. So, come with me on a very optimistic journey!

First, Let’s Rant

This rant is for all you grad students working 60+ hours a week and only getting paid for 20. So, grad students work a ton. They also get paid barely enough to eat ramen noodles. Some grad students get paid so little that they are forced to take out loams while their advisers male enough money to go on multiple trips throughout the year, fix their cars when things go bad, and also pay for hospital bills. I know many grad students that have had to leave academia because they were malnourished from not being able to eat.

For those that are going to say “well you’re supposed to be poor, you’re all students”, many of us are students but work a full time job doing research. So, if you decided to work a full time job and go to college at the same time, should your boss give you a pay cut? Grad students are employees.

I do know many grad students that have to have jobs on the side in order to eat as well. I happen to be one of those grad students. The inflation has hit us fairly hard too. See, grad students that get paid a stipend only get raises when the graduate union bargains for one. Colleges do not like giving grad students higher pay and, at least for me, we haven’t seen a raise in stipend since 2017. So, basically, we all make significantly less than we did 5 years ago.

Ok, I got that out of my system, now let us talk about how being poor in grad school can actually be a bit of a gift. I will give a few examples to make things a bit more optimistic.

Being a poor grad student is a blessing

Being a broke grad student can be somewhat of a blessing, though you may not be able to see it. Let me explain a little. See, being poor teaches you a ton of very valuable life lesson and skills.

Let’s first start off with the lessons that we are taught.

Being poor makes you understand what most of the nation is going through. You understand the hardships that come with being lower class. You can share these feelings with others and know just how hard it can be for many people living the same way as you. See, you may not realize these things when you are making money and possibly middle to upper class.

Another valuable lesson that you learn is to appreciate the things that you do have. See, in a materialistic society, we always want more, more more. When was the last time that you bought something and used it more than once lol? We often buy things because we can. We always want something and Amazon or online shopping or anything has made it to where we can satisfy that want. So, we tend to by stuff to satisfy this want.

When you are poor, you start to appreciate the very simple things in your life like going on walks, hanging with friends without having to spend money, and other things like maybe taking a hike or a bike ride, if you have a bike. Simple stuff like this is what really brings us join in our lives. Those materialist items will bring some happiness, but it never lasts.

being a broke grad student

You learn how to be poor

When you have money, you don’t know anything but that. What would happen if you lost all of your money one day? You’d be in a very bad situation. You might not know what to do with yourself and you’d be extremely stressed out, that’s for sure. When you are in grad school, you learn how to live and survive on very little. You are able to feed yourself and house yourself on extremely little for a very long time. You learn how to shop for deals, live at places that you can afford, and manage money. These are skills that are not really taught in school. These are also highly valuable skills that will benefit you in the future. Once you graduate, you may continue to live this way. You might have a ton of money but live in a very quaint apartment or house.

Learning how to live on very little money has helped me so much when it comes to food shopping and apartment hunting. I have learned all of these soft skills that I wouldn’t have while working full time. So, when all of my money seems to disappear one day, I will be ready!

More Great things about being a broke grad student

Here is a list of more great things that come from being a broke grad student. If you have any more to add, please share in the comments.

  1. You won’t eat out as much. This is good for your health, unless you start buying McDonalds everyday lol.
  2. You Won’t spend all of your money on Amazon.
  3. You’ll start using coupons and figure out the best deals on items.
  4. You won’t develop bad habits such as partying every night like you did in undergrad.
  5. You’ll get very creative presents for people. You might even just make stuff instead of buying things.
  6. You may come up with a way to make side money that is passive (cough cough blogging).
  7. You don’t have to worry if you lose it all since you don’t really have much to lose.
  8. The friends in your life are “real friends” as they don’t just hang out with you when you partying.
  9. You will know what rock bottom is like and know that it’s only up from here.
  10. People will buy you tings because they know you are poor. This one is one of my favorites lol.
  11. You buy fewer items which means that you are less likely to end up on the show “Hoarders”
  12. You know you can handle tough times and become a stronger person because of that.

Final Thoughts

You know, thinking about writing this post made me a bit worried because I didn’t think I could come up with enough reasons to be happy as a broke grad student. Now I realize that I am very happy as a broke grad student and very appreciative of the time I have had as one. I know many people struggle with finances while in grad school. I totally understand and I have a post about how to handle that (link here). The best thing that you can possibly do to be a little less miserable is count your blessings. Write out all of the good things about being broke in grad school, like I did above, and really see that it is not as bad as you make it out to be. Changing our perception of something can really make a difference.

How was that? Are you feeling better about being poor lol? Let me know if you agree with my post or not. Be happy guys and gals, it’s the weekend. Go do something fun and enjoy the beautiful weather. I am hoping to go scootering tomorrow or possibly kayaking, but we will see. I hope you all have a wonderful night/ day, depending on when you read this. I will see you in the next one. Peace.

Apply For Jobs For After Grad School

I have been actively looking for jobs after grad school for the past month. I graduate in almost 7 months to the day, so I figured I would try my luck at job hunting. Man, has it been quite the journey so far. I have had quite a few interviews so far and I almost get emails daily about setting up more interviews. Finding a job with a doctorate has been pretty easy so far.

Today, I want to talk about when to really start looking for jobs and some other helpful advice when it comes to the job search. This is totally my opinion, not backed by research or anything lol. I am sure that there are studies out there on when the best time to apply for a job in grad school. Maybe I will link some in this post if I find some.

Applying for Jobs For After Grad School

This is what it’s all about. Grad school prepared you for your next phase at that usually is one of two things 1) academia jobs 2) industry jobs. If you are like me, you are probably going into industry. Yes, being a professor sounds really cool, but I want some experience first, and honestly want to make some money. At least enough to pay off loans lol.

Applying for jobs for after grad school can be difficult at first. You may not know what you want to do in life. You might be comfortable where you are and continue doing things because it’s familiar and not scary like going to a new place. I get it, this is a scary part of the journey, but also a very exciting one. Trust me when I say, it will all be fine!

What you need to do first

You have been studying for years, taking exams, writing papers, doing research, and writing dissertations. This is all you really have done for a while and now you have to find something that uses those skillsets to actually make a difference. The very first thing that you must do before applying to a job after grad school is find out what you want to do with your life. Well, find out what you want to do with your life at the moment. Your career interests will definitely change so don’t think you’ll be stuck doing the same thing for the rest of your life.

The biggest things is to search for careers that interest you. Something meaningful, exciting, maybe good paying (I can go on and on about this lol), and something that essentially makes you happy or at least feel satisfied. The people that do the best work are the ones that find meaning in what they do and are genuinely interested in the work. The ones that aren’t interested yet do really good work are called robots lol. If you are searching for a career in something that doesn’t pique your interests, you won’t be fulfilled. There are exceptions though. You may find your niche by taking a weird job that you had no interest in. This does happen, but maybe try that later on down the road.

What you need to do next

When applying for jobs for after grad school, you need to not put it off until the end. First, figure out when you are going to graduate. This is important, especially with doctorates, because sometimes things happen and you graduate earlier or later than expected (thanks Covid). Once you know when you will be graduating, plan to start looking for jobs at least 6 months out. It can be a casual look. You don’t have to go hard with applications at this moment. But see what is out there. Maybe send a few applications to large companies that hire students that haven’t graduated yet. The worst thing that can happen is you get interview experience lol.

I know many people that were stressed to get jobs because they waited until like a few weeks before graduation. They weren’t prepared and hadn’t gone through the hiring process before, so they didn’t know how long it takes from interview to first day. Don’t be like them. Plus, if you secure a job pretty far out, you can worry just about finishing your doctorate or master’s. You don’t have to worry about snagging a job.

Interviewing for Positions

You will most likely get quite a few emails/calls/carrier pigeons to schedule interviews. I had 3 in one day this week. It was crazy at how many people wanted to schedule interviews. This is great. Of course, I sent out around 20 to 30 applications so far. This will happen to you. This is also why I stress the importance of starting early. You might apply to 100 places and hear back from 1. Also, you could apply to 3 places and hear back from all of them. The job finding game is an unpredictable one.

Once you do get an interview, it will usually be an initial phone interview to make sure you are actually a person and to tell you more about the position and the company. I had one of these the other day. These are pretty informal and casual in nature. I got to learn more about the company and position I applied for as job descriptions really don’t do justice. After the phone interview, they may schedule you for an in person interview or one on the computer. These are usually an hour long and are with the people that you are most likely going to be working with. They want to see if you can do the job and are a team player. I have found these to be pretty casual too.

When interviewing, make sure to dress professionally. This includes skype/zoom/teams calls. You want to impress the hiring manager/managers from the get go. I highly recommend getting dress shirts and coats. If you are still pretty concerned what to wear, just literally Google “job interview attire”. That will give you the best examples of what to wear and not to wear for interviewing.

Here is a site that I just found that gives you a ton of description on what to wear for interviews.

Have Fun and See if it’s the right place for you

The interviewing process is a great time to have fun and learn more about the company. Getting interviews means that you stand out among other candidates. This is a major win for you because all of the hard work the past 3-8 years has paid off. Go into that interview with the confidence of someone who deserves to be there but also with having fun in mind.

One of the things I tell people is this isn’t just the company interviewing you to see if you are a good fit. It should be you interviewing them to see if that company is a good fit for your life. Many grad students go into these interviews trying to please the hiring manager so they get the job. They later find out that they absolutely hate the job and only wanted to go there because of the reputation of the company. As I said earlier, the people that do the best work and are most fulfilled are the ones that found a job that fits them.

Final Thoughts

This post was aimed primarily towards those that are looking for jobs in industry. If you are looking at academic positions, that will come soon I am probably going to apply to some positions for professorships in the next few weeks as well as postdocs. I will keep you all updated with how those interviews go because I know for a fact that those are way different that interviewing for an industry position.

I hope you guys found this to be a somewhat decent post. It is a bit different than usual, but something that is very important in the grad school community. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, if you haven’t read my post about the best gifts to get grad students, you can check it out here. I will see you all in the next one. 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!

How to Prepare for Grad School After Acceptance

This post about how to prepare for grad school after acceptance may contains affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

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

What Degree Did You Get In to?

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

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

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

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

prepare for grad school after acceptance by understanding visiting the campus

1) Get to know the campus

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

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

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

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

3) Schedule Classes

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

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

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

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

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

prepare for grad school after acceptance by understanding research

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

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

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

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

3) Start Reading About Your Research Field.

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

PhD after a Master’s

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

prepare for grad school after acceptance by understanding research methods

1) Familiarize yourself with lab procedures of research methods.

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

2) Communicate with your adviser, a ton

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

prepare for grad school after acceptance by travelling

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Cooking in College

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

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

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

cooking in college

Why you should learn to cook in college.

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

Show Off!

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

cooking in college and grad school

Your Wallet Will Thank You!

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

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

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

It’s a great hobby

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

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

What to Get to Start Cooking in College

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

List of things you probably should get

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

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

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

How to Get Started.

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Update on what’s going on in my life

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

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

My Weekend

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

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

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

Sirius

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

New Chapters

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

Final Thoughts

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

How to Get Ahead in College

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

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

Getting ahead in college

Getting Ahead in College as an Undergrad

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

1) Procrastination will hurt you

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

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

eat healthy to get ahead in college

2) Stay Moving

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

3) Do not go for perfection

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

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

4) Sleep, Please

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Ahead in College as a Grad Student

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

1) Stay in contact with your adviser

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

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

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

3) Stop being such a recluse

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

Get Ahead in College With These Tips

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

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

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

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

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

5) Get a planner (like this one)

6) Stay organized. Clutter can make things difficult

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

How Much Free Time Do Grad Students Have?

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

woman jumping wearing green backpack
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Will You have free time in Grad School?

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

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

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So about how much free time will you have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Much Free time in grad school: PhD Program?

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

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

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

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Final Thought

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

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

Dating a Law Student

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

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

man holding baby s breath flower in front of woman standing near marble wall
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The Good Things about Dating a Law Student

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

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

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

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

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

3) Law Students are smart

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

4) You can show them off to your friends

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

5) They can help you stay out of trouble.

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

man and woman holding hands while walking at park
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The Hardships of Dating a Law Student

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) School will come first

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

close up shot of scrabble tiles on a blue surface
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Tips for dating a law student

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Should You Drop Out of Grad School?

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

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

person standing near trees
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Grad School Letter of Recommendation

I’ve been putting there types of posts off for a while but I have been getting emails about this very topic and similar ones. Students want to get letters of recommendation from advisers and professors, but don’t know how to go about doing such task. I am here today to give you some advice and helpful tips when it comes to getting a letter of recommendation for grad school.

Getting letters of recommendation is a huge and essential part of grad school. Yes, the school work and research and all is important, but getting into a program first is the most essential part. See, you can’t do the research if you don’t have a lab and funding lol. So, taking the time to go out and ask for letter’s of recommendation is a must.

grad school letter of recommendation

Grad School Letters of Recommendation for Master’s Students

Every master’s program has required to fill out an application, attach a resume or CV and also collect, I believe, 3 letter’s of recommendation. No, you can get Letters from family members, colleagues, your boss, etc. but if you are already in school, the best people to get recommendation letters from are professors that you know. Make sure that you have a good relationship with them or they may turn you away.

Build a Relationship with Them First.

If you know that you are going to go to grad school and need the letters of recommendation, make sure that you establish some form of relationship with the professor(s) that you will be asking. Go to their class, attend any lecture they give, and go to their office hours. I would suggest going to at least 3 of their office hours and talking with them. You don’t have to be best friends, but it is good to have them at least know your name.

After you sort of establish a relationship with them, ask them to write a letter of recommendation for you. Tell them that you will provide a resume, grades, anything to help them. 9.9 times out f 10 they will be glad you reached out and are happy to provide a grad school letter of recommendation. When they agree, they may ask for more than your resume or grades. They might ask you to write a little about yourself as well as maybe some other qualities that you have. Things that will help them write a very personal letter.

Why they are important

In a master’s program, you will need the letters of recommendation to get in, yes, but you might also need them in order to apply for scholarships and fellowships. More than likely, doing your master’s will not get you paid and you’ll be pretty poor. You may start looking for scholarships that ,may cover tuition or just basic needs. Every one tat I have seen has required at least 2 letters of rec. This is probably why many people don’t apply for those scholarships in the first place.

For these, I would suggest getting a grad school letter of recommendation from your adviser and maybe another professor close to you. Tell them that you are applying to a scholarship and that you might be applying for more. They will most likely write a letter of rec that can be used in many different cases. This is good because you can just keep asking them for letters of rec and they won’t have to take too much time to write you one.

Other reasons

Grad school also goes by really fast and the next thing you know, you’re looking for jobs. heck, even before that, you might want to spend your summers doing an internship. Some of these require letters of rec to apply for them. It always looks good when you apply for a research position or internship and a professor that is known in the field writes a letter for you. I have received many offers form people just because I have gotten letters from professionals that are well known in the water industry.

Grad School Letters of Recommendation for PhDs

So, this is a bit different when applying for a PhD. I have been turned away from professors when I was applying for a PhD because they did not feel comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for me. Why? Because they were not professionals in that field. When asking for a grad school letter of recommendation for a PhD program, you really need to ask the right people.

So, who are the right people? That is a really good question. The right people are those professors who work on the projects that you want to work on or one’s in similar fields. When applying to PhD positions, the letter’s of recommendation weigh a bit more than just a master’s program. A PhD is like a job pretty much and your boss, the lead PI, will be looking for individuals who can get the work done. A good letter of recommendation, from a well known professor, can be what lands you this position.

grad school letter of recommendation

How to Build These Relationships

I am a huge supporter of getting a master’s degree before going for your PhD. This serves a few purposes. 1) You can see if the academia life is for you 2) You get the master’s 3) You get time to build relationships with professors before it starts getting really hard. Ok, that last one was not a main reason why I want people to get a master’s, but it’s still pretty darn important. When doing your master’s you’ll have plenty of time to get to know a professor or a few. This will make it easier to receive letters from them.

Heck, they may even offer you a position on their research team and then you’re pretty golden. But, getting a master’s gives you that time to build those relationships with professors. Maybe do a little research with them. They will be able to write a fantastic letter of recommendation for you which includes your skills and research experience.

The Good About PhDs

So, unless you are doing research in a master’s, you probably won’t even know what a committee is. If you are doing research, there is a panel of professors that you pretty much defend your research too. They act as the peer review process of science. In a PhD, you will have a committee of 4 to 5 people. You will get to know them fairly well and they will all be top notch individuals in their field. When looking to get letters of recommendations for jobs or careers after your doctorate, these are who to go to. They will know you best and probably have some really good networks.

It’s almost cheating when you have a PhD. Why? Because the people on your committee will know a ton of employers or research groups that you can work for. Getting a recommendation letter from someone high in their field may land you with a job that makes a ton of money. So, get to know your committee and make sure to reach out to them for letters of rec. They will 100% be happy to help, I promise.

Final Thoughts

If you are applying to a master’s PhD, or just looking for more advice on getting a grad school letter of recommendation, email me at benswaringen@yahoo.com. I will be glad to help out in any way that I can.

If you are looking for how to write a letter of recommendation, I suggest checking these resources out.

  1. Indeed
  2. Coursera
  3. The Balance Careers
  4. Grammarly
  5. The Muse

These are all websites that will tell you how to write a letter of recommendation as well as give you templates. I’m pretty sure all professors do this when they first start writing letters of rec.

If you haven’t read my article on The Hardest Parts About Going to Grad School, I suggest checking it out. Link Here. As always, I hope you guys have a great day and I will see you in the next one. If you have an suggestions on what i should write next, send me an email. Heck just said me one to say hi. Also, send me some of your favorite memes too :). See ya.

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

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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.

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During Your Master’s

person using macbook pro on table
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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
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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.

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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
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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!

A Letter To Yourself

Today’s blog post is actually an exercise that I did in therapy. Basically, you write a letter to your younger self to let them know how you have grown and changed over time. It really helps to show you how mature you are and how you have changed the past few years. Today’s letter will be to my first year PhD self. That might have been one of the most stressful times for me because I left everything to pursue a doctorate. I moved away from family, loved ones, and started a life back in the town that I called home for 3.5 years previously. To say that I was scared and anxious would be an understatement.

A Letter to Ben

Hi Ben (I usually always start this way. Nothing formal)

Congratulations on starting your PhD. This is a huge step and one of the best decisions that you have made. I can’t thank you enough for making this decision and starting this journey. So, thank you!

As will all journeys, you will experience many different things. Some will be good, other’s, not so much. You have decided to take this path and it comes with it’s fair share of ups and downs, and you are going to experience both. You survive, though lol.

The doubts that you have are just thoughts. They are not real in any sense and all created by a worrying mind. Fortunately for you (and me), none of the negative thoughts ever come to light. In fact, life has a funny way of being extremely unpredictable and surprises you quite often. Many of the things you are so sure will happen never do. It’s hard to fully understand what I am telling you now, but some time around your second year, you’ll start to understand more what I mean by this.

Life, unfortunately will get a little harder for you. You are going to go through a very rough patch in your academic career that will cause you to question your whole PhD entirely. But you know how I said life has a weird way of being unpredictable? Well, you’ll find that life is unpredictable and quite helpful too. There will be many opportunities to help yourself during these times. Some that make you feel a bit uncomfortable at first. Take advantage of those opportunities. You will benefit so much from them.

Now let’s talk about friends. Yes, you make some really great friends and you will lose quite a few. People, just like in undergrad, come and go. Unfortunately, nothing really is permanent and that applies to your friends too. Do not take the time with them for granted. Your friends will greatly impact who you become and that is a good thing. Also, for those friends that are slowly drifting away, it is ok to let them go. Thank them for the time that you were able to spend with them and the laughs you had, but remember that they might only be a part of your life for a brief second. Their role in your life has come and gone.

I know for a fact that you are going to do great things. You were always one to really push yourself to be more than average. Be kind to yourself though. Some things may not work out as quickly or as well as you like, and that might upset you. It’s all part of the process and I promise you that things happen for reasons, though, those reasons may not be so clear.

You are ready for this wonderful, scary, adventurous, difficult, and downright amazing journey. You were born to be a researcher and help potentially millions of people. Trust me, you can and will do it and people will be there to help you along the way. Congrats again on starting your PhD. You are going to make an amazing doctor one day.

Ben (older version)

PS. Start blogging about your journey through grad school. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Final Thoughts

Writing a letter to yourself really shows you how far you’ve come. Just putting this together has made me really look back on the past 3.5 years and appreciate the individual that I have become. For those in grad school or senior year of college, write a letter to yourself, your younger self that is. It will open your eyes to how far you’ve come and the person you are becoming as well.

I hope you all found this post to be a bit different as well as entertaining. This is such a great way to boost your spirits as well ad a good exercise to do if you are feeling down and stuck in life.

As always, I hope you all have an amazing day and I will see you in the next one. Also, if you haven’t already, check out my last post about the best grad school memes (link here). 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 m