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It's 830 AM where are all the grad students?

  1. Jan 4, 2012 #1
    This whole research building is like a ghost town. I thought grad students had a lot of work to do? I'm in my first week of rotation and it has been very little like industry. Students here seem to get in a 9-10 am, take an hour coffee break before reading a journal article for the next two hours, and then set up one experiment in the day? What gives? Classes don't start until the 30th so course work isn't an excuse.

    I feel like I should be doing 3 or 4 experiments right now, but can't do anything because I have to wait until fellow lab mates gets in and show me what to do.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 4, 2012 #2

    D H

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    The brain of a typical grad student isn't fully functional until 10 or 11 AM, or maybe even later. 8:30 AM? Give 'em a break! The most intelligent statement a typical grad student can make at 8:30 AM is "which way to the coffee machine?"
  4. Jan 4, 2012 #3
    Sounds like an excuse. Back when I had a job at the tender age of 23 and 24 I was at work at 730 AM and setting up as much as 10 experiments in a day (granted when I set up that many in a day they weren't the most complicated procedures). I feel like there is tons of time being wasted.

    I also don't see any post docs yet.
  5. Jan 4, 2012 #4
    Nobody goes to grad school to get up at 8:30 AM.
  6. Jan 4, 2012 #5
    Working in industry myself, I get to work at 7 or 8 am but am out by 5. I bet most grad students stay much later than that as well as working on the weekend and doing homework at their homes.
  7. Jan 4, 2012 #6
    Right, but I see students staying late because they waste so much time. Rather than reading an article for the first 2 hours and then setting up an experiment, I don't understand why they just don't set up the experiments first thing in the morning, then when there is experimental down time read the journal articles. That way instead of only being able to do 1 experiment in a day, you might be able to do 2. I'm also ignoring how much time they spend surfing the web, reading the news, and wasting time on facebook.

    I'm literally jumping out of my skin at my lack of production compared to what I had to produce at my old jobs since I have to wait until people can show me what to do and how to use the instruments.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  8. Jan 4, 2012 #7


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    Dividing the day into 24 equal hours was just a convenient mathematical fiction invented by clockmakers. The hours between 3am and 12 noon don't actually exist in the real world.
  9. Jan 4, 2012 #8


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    That has to hurt.
  10. Jan 4, 2012 #9


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    When I was a grad student, a lot of us basically lived at the lab or office. We came in late in the morning, worked through the afternoon, went out for dinner and maybe a quick round of video games, then went back to the lab/office for the evening and often didn't go home until 11pm or midnight. We were single and our work and social lives overlapped a lot.

    We didn't have the Web or even PCs to distract us c. 1980, but we did have some addicting games on the departmental computer, such as the Colossal Cave Adventure.
  11. Jan 4, 2012 #10
    What do you mean by "experiment?" Most grad students have one main experiment (what I would consider an "experiment"), and sometimes a few ancillary experiments to compliment the main experiment. Around my group, me and one other guy are the typically the only people in by 830. We usually leave by 6 to do homework or home research (simulation, modeling, paper reading, etc.). Some people reverse the process, do some home research and slowly wake up, then do the experimenting and lab stuff from 1030 to 830 or so; others just have a phase delay from my schedule. Relax, you're in academia, you compensate for the long hours by making your hours flexible, otherwise you'll go insane.

    Also, you're wasting time, procrastinating, just as I am by posting here! :p
  12. Jan 4, 2012 #11

    D H

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    You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike ... which is a very apt description of life after school. Life in school is the much simple twisty maze of little passages, all different.
  13. Jan 4, 2012 #12
    As a general rule, graduate students are not morning people.

    This tends to explain why professors are generally not morning people either.

    I don't think I've ever heard of a science department anywhere where the grad students are mostly in before 10am.
  14. Jan 4, 2012 #13
    In our building, you won't see a grad student before 10AM. However, you'll find plenty of them (us) around 2AM.

    \Cut the kids some slack
    \\If the work gets done, it gets done
    \\\Doesn't matter if it's done at 8AM or 8PM
  15. Jan 4, 2012 #14

    This past semester, our quantum final was at 8:00AM and the professor, who was leaving the country the following day, didn't care to change it.

    Now, I can't fall asleep before 2AM no matter what. It just doesn't happen. So I show up at the final just a few hours after finally falling asleep and I can hardly keep my eyes open. It made for a miserable examination. The problems weren't especially hard, but I was working too slowly, and I kept making silly mistakes. I knew all the material, but I was just too tired to do it.

    I ended up with a B in the course :(

    If the exam had been after 10AM or so, I would have aced it.
  16. Jan 4, 2012 #15
    I am definitely no morning person, but this past semester I discovered that if I do manage to wake up early, I'm very productive at those hours. You guys should try getting up at 5 or 6 one of these days and studying until class starts. It was very effective for me, for the most part.
  17. Jan 4, 2012 #16

    You sound like an overachiever. Quit making the rest of us look bad.
  18. Jan 4, 2012 #17
    If you're so concerned about efficiency, why not alter your schedule to maximize your own? Instead of coming in at 8:30am and waiting an hour before someone else arrives and shows you how to do run an experiment, you could sleep in an extra hour or two and stay later to recoup the lost time. It seems like it'd be easier for you try and accommodate everyone else's habits than for them to change on account of you.
  19. Jan 4, 2012 #18


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    5pm, when I was really going at it as a grad student, was pretty much lunch time for me. The food got me ready to continue through the peak of productivity, 6pm-3am.
  20. Jan 4, 2012 #19
    I agree too, when I get ready early in the morning I feel that I can do so much more for the rest of the day. But when I wake up late for some reason or another I tend to be lazy for most of the day.. very weird phenomena but I've been noticing the pattern haha. I feel 20 times better if I wake up very early than very late. Right now my usual wake time is 1pm.. which is terrible.
  21. Jan 5, 2012 #20
    If I were you I wouldn't be coming in so early. Wait for your lab mates to arrive before you come in, otherwise you're just wasting your own time.

    'Time spent in the lab' does not equal 'productive time spent in the lab'. Get your sleep.
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