The Truth About Grad School: Part 1

A few days before the new year, I logged in to my student account to check my final grades for the semester. I looked at my grade report and then my degree audit, which was now showing as nearly complete. I have 60 of my 72 credits completed and no classes left to take. I didn’t expect to get emotional about the fact that I am now done with PhD coursework, but suddenly my chest felt tight and I had to blink back some tears.

After five semesters, a job change, an out-of-state move, a full-time job and a family whose faces I like to see as much as I can, I’m done following syllabi and handing in assignments on an imposed time-table. Next month I present my dissertation proposal and then I am 12 research credits and a written and defended dissertation from completing what is almost certainly my last educational credential.

(Aside note on the five semesters timeline: this is fast. Really fast. I took between 6-11 credits per semester. I’m not sure if I recommend this or not. On the one hand: DONE. On the other: I’m not sure I was as fully engaged in some of the classes as I could have been).

One of the things I liked best about my grad program was that the powers that be would frequently invite alumni to come back and talk about their research and their process and how they survived writing a dissertation with their sanity mostly intact. My secret wish is that some day I’ll be invited to be one of these speakers. This is both because it will mean that I got through it and because I feel like I do candid well and I’d like to make sure incoming students hear some real talk about being a PhD student.

Thankfully, I don’t have to wait for my invitation to speak in the mail. I have this little corner of the internet and I intend to use it to talk about what I’ve learned so far on this PhD journey.

(Can you use the word “journey” without sounding like a contestant on The Bachelor?)

(Can you be a PhD student if you admit to watching The Bachelor? What if you confess to having a total shame hangover the next day?)

Next time: the truth about money.

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