Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Grad Students Who Know

with apologies to Julie B. Beck

Grad Students Who Know Write Papers

Grad students who know write papers. While there are those in the world who decry the old values of "publish or perish," in the culture of graduate school good students still believe in writing papers, preferably as many as possible. The wisest advisers teach that first year graduate students should not postpone writing papers, and that the requirement for righteous graduate students to multiply and replenish the library remains in force. There is academic power and influence in writing.

Grad Students Who Know Honor Academic Obligations and Commitments

Grad students who know honor their academic obligations and commitments. I have visited some of the most prestigious universities on earth, where grad students fulfill all their responsibilities, despite walking for miles or using sketchy public transportation. They drag themselves onto campus no matter how little sleep they got the night before or how unfinished their course projects are. These grad students know they are going to classes and seminars, where free food might be offered. They know if they are not going to class, they are not impressing their professorial colleagues, and, also, they might go hungry.

Grad Students Who Know are Studiers

Grad students who know are studiers. This is their special assignment and role within the plan of a university. To study means to observe, analyze, contemplate, or learn about. Another word for studying is procrastinating. Procrastinating includes blogging, talking to friends, and, sometimes, in times of greatest stress, washing clothes and dishes, scrubbing floors and toilets, and keeping an orderly apartment. Studying grad students are knowledgeable, but all their education will avail them nothing if they do not have the skills to procrastinate. Grad students should be the best procrastinators in the world.

Grad Students Who Know Do Less

Grad students who know do less. During the last few weeks of the semester, they permit less of what will not bear good fruit academically. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less social activity, less leisure reading, and less time devoted to the basics of hygiene, nutrition, and exercise. Grad students who know are willing to live on less so they can spend more time with their homework: more time thinking, more time reading, more time writing, more time talking to their adviser. These grad students choose carefully, and do not try to choose having a life outside of academia. Their goal is to get their PhDs, so one day they can prepare a rising generation of grad students who will take their pet theories into the entire field. That is influence; that is power.

It is my sincere hope that we all, in these last days of the semester, can strive to become graduate students who know, and I testify that the dean will reward us for doing so.


ambrosia ananas said...

"I have visited some of the most prestigious universities on earth, where grad students fulfill all their responsibilities, despite walking for miles or using sketchy public transportation."

: )

Also, I am *such* a good procrastinator. Maybe I could be a grad student.

Confuzzled said...

I'm a good procrastinator too... is it a good indication of being a grad student who knows that I'll be submitting all my apps at the last reasonable minute?

Katya said...

You have renewed my faith in humanity. :)

Annie said...

Don't apologize to Julie Beck...unless you're sorry for writing a version that kicks her version in the shins.

alea said...

What about the fact that, during finals, some of us do more actually? Those of us who allow things to be baked that wouldn't have been otherwise or more media than general?

I also agree, perhaps "apologies" isn't what you meant en re Sister Beck. Maybe, "with irritation for" or "due to the hideous talk of"

Petra said...


If you do more during finals, you are clearly not a grad student who knows. Duh.

(Though I agree that my definition of procrastination eliminates some types while glorifying others. Then again, Sister Beck's definition of homemaking eliminates some types while glorifying others. So there.)

And en re: apologies, yes, that is what I mean. I'm not clarifying my feelings towards the talk, really, simply parodying it. (Granted, the parody can be taken as a mirror of my feelings for the talk, but we'll leave that aside for the moment.) "With apologies to" is a fairly standard introduction to a parody or otherwise irreverent take on someone else's work. That's the only sense in which I mean it.

Anne said...


Zillah said...

Grad students who know never stop feeling guilty for not doing everything. Perfectly.

Bored in Vernal said...

ah hahahaha.
You and your commenters have made my day. Bless you dear graduate students.

Definitely not Katya said...

People like you need to understand that not *everyone* in the Church is a grad student.

Sure, you can argue that it's the ideal situation, but some people don't have the opportunity to be in grad school right now, or they may feel like they need to postpone grad school for a few years (which is, by the way, a *personal* decision, and not one for you to judge), and for some people, grad school may not ever be a position they find themselves in.

I'm just so sick of feeling marginalized in a community that thinks I'm not a person if I'm not working on an advanced degree.

Katya said...

not me:

It seems like you're really worked up about this. Have you prayed about it or talked with an academic adviser?

I agree that the perception of isolation can be very painful, but, in a sense, we're all grad students. Maybe you're not enrolled in a program right now, but you could be taking evening classes or just reading really technical books and eating lots of ramen. What matters is that you're a grad student in your heart.

Annie said...

Katya, that was beautiful.

Petra said...

Dear definitely not Katya,

I'm sorry to hear you feel marginalized, and I'm extra sorry if you feel that way because of what I wrote. I worry, however, about your implication that grad school is a choice. I know that not everyone seems cut out for grad school, but college advisers have been very clear: the role of a graduate student is the most important one you can play in this life. It requires a lot of sacrifice--sleep, leisure time, sanity--but I can testify that it is what we should be doing. If you don't believe that, maybe you should search your feelings and see if everything is right in your life academically.

And remember, even if you don't get the opportunity now, if you desire it and work for it, you'll get it someday.

Brouge said...

thank you, thank you, thank you. Now I no longer have to feel guilty for thinking that talk was heinous.

Katya said...

To add to what Petra said, I think you'll find that there are many ways you can be involved in graduate work, either as a future, current, or former grad student, if you'll just make it the most important priority in your life.

For example, I'm not currently in grad school, but I'm blessed to have a job which involves cataloging dissertations and master's theses. I can feel the sweet spirits of those grad students as I look through their abstracts and bibliographies, and I testify of the special grad student knowledge and wisdom that can be gained only through dedication to such work.

Anonymous said...

O.k., I had to delurk and say that this post and the subsequent comments are hilarious. As a grad student, I am glad I am realizing my full potential.

Elisabeth said...