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New Book: How to screw up in grad school

October 28, 2015

Not all new books warrant their own blog post. This one however was requested by a faculty member who found the contents helpful and planned to recommend it to his advisees. Even without reading the full text of the book, the list of chapter headings can provide a good reality check for anyone considering or currently in graduate school. Check them out for a humorous quick overview of all the potential missteps to avoid!

[A technical note: As an e-book supplied to us by the vendor eBrary, it can be read in the browser and on an iPad. And while most e-books from this vendor permit downloading the full text to your personal device, this one does not aside from individual chapters in PDF format. Love e-books? Hate them? Pet peeve? Let us know! Not all are the same. Check out the mobile app from competitor EBSCO, for example]

57 ways to screw up in grad school: perverse professional lessons for graduate students / Kevin D. Haggerty and Aaron Doyle. The University of Chicago Press : Chicago, 2015.


-- Starting out.
Do not think about why you are applying;
Ignore the market;
Stay at the same university;
Follow the money blindly;
Do an unfunded PhD;
Do an interdisciplinary PhD;
Believe advertised completion times;
Ignore the information the university provides you;
Expect the money to take care of itself

-- Supervisors.
Go it alone and stay quiet;
Choose the coolest supervisor;
Have co-supervisors;
Do not clarify the supervisor's (or your own) expectations;
Avoid your supervisor and committee;
Stay in a bad relationship;
Expect people to hold your hand

-- Managing your program.
Concentrate only on your thesis;
Expect to write the perfect comprehensive exam;
Select a topic for entirely strategic reasons;
Do not teach, or teach a ton of courses;
Do not seek teaching instruction;
Move away from the university before finishing your degree;
Postpone those tedious approval processes;
Organize everything only in your head;
Do not attend conferences, or attend droves of conferences

 -- Your work and social life.
Concentrate solely on school;
Expect friends and family to understand;
Socialize only with your clique;
Get a job!

 -- Writing.
Write only your PhD thesis;
Postpone publishing;
Cover everything;
Do not position yourself;
Write only to deadlines;
Abuse your audience

 -- Your attitude and actions.
Expect to be judged only on your work;
Have a thin skin;
Be inconsiderate;
Become 'that' student;
Never compromise;
Say whatever pops into your head on social media

 -- Delicate matters.
Assume that the university is more inclusive than other institutions ;
Insist on your rights;
Get romantically involved with faculty;
Cheat and plagiarize

 -- Am I done yet?: on finishing.
Skip job talks;
Expect to land a job in a specific university;
Expect people to hire you to teach your thesis;
Turn down opportunities to participate in job searches;
 Neglect other people's theses;
Get an unknown external examiner;
Do not understand the endgame;
Be blase about your defense;
Do not plan for your job interview;
Persevere at all costs;
Consider a non-academic career a form of failure;
Final thoughts.