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Graduate student lifestyle

  1. Mar 16, 2010 #1
    I expect that most people here, having been gone through graduate school in some capacity, will be familiar with the subject of this post. I am a married first year engineering graduate student, and I'd like to comment on the graduate student lifestyle.

    Graduate students have this reputation and aura of being miserable, overworked, slaving away seven days a week, many of those days late into the night. It's something that virtually all graduate students take an enormous amount of pride in. However, most of the graduate students I see don't exactly live up to such a reputation. Here's a typical schedule:

    Wake up at 10-11 am...arrive at the lab a little before noon...check email/message boards...go have lunch with fellow grad students...get back into the lab around 1 or 2. At this point some real work may begin, but factoring in more time to check email and message boards, talk, and have dinner, our example student can easily take it to midnight with roughly 8 hours of work! At this point the student can get back to his/her apartment after midnight, rinse and repeat. This is just a rough example, but most days typically involve sleeping in, lots of socializing, and tons of Internet surfing.

    Did anyone else go through grad school and not become enamored with this? Or find a way to get work done in a more efficient schedule? Perhaps it wouldn't bother me as much if I wasn't going to have to rely on groupmates to get work done.

    I'm just curious to get anyone's thoughts on this or what their grad student life was like.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2010 #2
    I've been there. For this reason, when I have work that can be done on my own, I use the library. It's awash with undergraduates - but far further from the distraction of my department. It's also easier to set my own breaks and specific times to deal with emails..

    Unfortunately, for me, a big part of the graduate student life is the socialising. Getting to know people in your department, and people in your field is extremely important, so keeping up a scenario where you take separate lunch times and aren't around when everyone else is messing around with flash games on the internet is difficult!

    Also, like you said, people rely on each other for work to be done - so it's also difficult to work apart from this point of view. I guess the only thing you can really do there is subtly try to act like a project manager and motivate people.
  4. Mar 22, 2010 #3
    I understand your dilemma with the library; I've had a good amount of time wasted due to undergraduate antics.

    Surely there must be other points of view on this. I thought this would get a number of opinions and looks back to grad school experiences.
  5. Mar 22, 2010 #4


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    I'm currently a grad student. I tend to go into my office from around 10-6pm, with the usual lunch breaks and drinks/dinner afterwards. I wouldn't underestimate the social aspects, by the way. A good reference letter will describe your interaction with other students/faculty within the department. There's also a lot of information exchanged over coffee/lunch.
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