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Weekends in grad school are sacred. They should be for a graduate students. I rarely spend my weekends doing work unless I absolutely have to. I know of people that work every single day of the week and never spend a moment away from their work. That’s exhausting to watch and unproductive and taking breaks is essential to boost productivity. So working constantly boggles my mind.
For those that are just starting grad school, you’ll soon realize how toxic the environment can become. You will be expected to work a lot more than you probably ever have. You will see people come in to the lab at 9 am and leave at midnight. Know that this isn’t normal! Sure, you will have some times where you may have to stay very late, but don’t make this your life.
What “should you do”
Take most, if not every weekend off. Spend this time doing literally anything but school work. Go on a hike, see family, rob a bank, anything! I like to spend my weekends going to see family or driving to Miami to see my girlfriend. By taking yourself out of work, you will start to really enjoy things more. Working every day causes you to become irritated and grumpy. You will stop doing hobbies and you may even start hating the project that you are working on. Pretty much, working all of the time will make you bitter.
Do Master’s Students Work on The weekends In Grad School?
I have had many master’s student s work on my project with me. The thing that they all have in common is they only work on lab stuff max 3 days a week and never come in on the weekends. This was my experience with them, but it is different for everyone. If there is a huge deadline approaching, you know that they will be working on the weekends with me. I haven’t really had that occur though.
Master’s students are primarily focused on their studies. If they are going to take a weekend to work, it would most likely be because they have an exam coming up or they need to catch up on homework. That is their main focus, getting school work done. Of course many do research as well. These are the select few that you may see in the lab on the weekends.
So, do master’s students work on weekends in grad school? Yes, they are going to give up a few to work, but it will only be when they truly need to or if they just absolutely love working on the weekends. For the most part, if you are in a master’s program, you will have plenty of time to take off during the weekend to have fun and a life.
Do PhD Students Work on The Weekends in Grad School?
So, this is a bit different than a master’s. PhD students are all about the research. In fact, they are obsessed with research. If not, then they will become obsessed. But are they obsessed enough to work on the weekends? The answer is, like a master’s student, yes and no. I know PhD students that work every weekend and I know some that have taken off every weekend off and managed to graduate on time. It really depends on a ton of factors. Your adviser is one of them. How demanding are they and how much do they want you to work. I find assistant professors to be harder than tenure because they are trying to publish enough to get tenure. That means that you’ll be working on weekends, trying to catch up on work that they give you.
People that have to teach may have to work on weekends as well while in grad school. They have to prepare for classes, grade homework and exams, and answer emails. So, yes, they will have to work on weekends. A PhD is an apprenticeship so you will be working hard to learn how to do good research. This will mean giving up some weekends so you can learn more. If you are choosing this path, working a ton, not all, weekends will probably occur.
If you are able to, take off as many weekends as you can, though. I stated above that you might go crazy if you work all of the time. Burnout is a real thing and it will affect you if you aren’t careful. Mental health will also tend to decline if you work all of the time. Just think of the Shining. All work and no play will make you literally go insane lol.
What To Do on The Weekends in Grad School
Taking weekends off is amazing for your mental health as well. Life is so much more than the paperwork you have to do, or the experiments you have to run. You are literally on this earth for a fraction of a moment, so you don’t want to waste it alone, doing work. Take Saturdays and Sundays to go explore new things and experience something that you haven’t experienced before. Go to the movies, ride a bike, heck, just lay in bed and binge movies all day. There’s plenty of time to do work later.
I would suggest doing something each weekend that just makes you happy and keeps you from thinking about grad school. Work and school will be there after the weekend is up. So, spend your weekend not worrying about it and enjoy yourself. Make grad school a fun experience.
What I am Doing this Weekend
This weekend, I am going to enjoy time with friends as well as time at the gym. My schedule is a bit all over the place because of lab work and personal training so getting to the gym myself has been a struggle. I am also experiencing a bit of post-quals slump (PQS). I need the time this weekend to just do everything but work. It will be good for me and for those that will have to deal with me lol.
Hopefully, you get to spend this weekend doing something you love. If you are stuck in the lab because you are trying to catch up on work, make sure to set aside a decent amount of time to enjoy today. I guarantee it will make you feel so much better. If you haven’t already, go check out my last blog about the pros and cons of going to grad school (link here). I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
**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.