Through the course of completing my masters and working on my PhD, I have learned one important lesson: the more you learn, the less you know!
Grad school is a constant mix of personal self-doubt and professional criticism. Just when you think you have figured something out, there is someone there to remind you that you need to re-think or re-write. Of course, the criticism isn’t malicious. It is intended to push you, to make you the best you can be. But constantly being pushed and working to your best is exhausting!
If you are contemplating grad school let me tell you, the key to finishing isn’t being the best or the brightest, but having a thick enough skin to make it through the years of criticism!
Even after three years, I still miss the mark. Just last week, my advisor told me I needed to rewrite a paper because, although it was “fine,” she knew I could do better. Naturally, my first thought was not, “she’s just trying to push me,” but “why after three years am I still not good at this?”
Of course I
always push through the self-doubt (after I eat my feelings a bit) and pick myself back up and rewrite the paper remembering that I am not crap, I’m just being pushed.
Every grad student I know experiences this emotional roller coaster on a
weekly daily basis. Some semesters are better than others, but all in all, with each passing year you grow a little stronger (and a little wiser… I think). And the ones who don’t, begin to drop one by one. On average only 50% of grad students complete the degree they start.
So that’s my advice for grad school – grow a thick (and I mean thick) skin!
Any other post-grads out there who can relate?