Advice for First-Year Grad Students

David Shorter, a professor world arts and cultures at UCLA, has published a list of “six key lessons” for people starting graduate school. Paraphrasing, they include:

1. Map out what the major requirements are for your program and for getting a job in your field and have a timetable for their completion.
2. Remember to act professionally and considerately with your professors and colleagues.
3. Figure out what kind of adviser you need, but don’t expect your adviser to solve all of your problems.
4. Prioritize the actual work of being a student, including taking good notes, writing a lot, reading material not required for class, and of course proofreading all of your work.
5. Remember that your letter writers will be honest in their assessments of you.
6. Improve your writing.

Other tips?

USI Switzerland Philosophy
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9 years ago

Isn’t (5) generally false?

Philip Kremer
9 years ago

Have fun.

9 years ago

Correlates of 2 & 3:
(A) Your professors are not your friends, they are not your parents, they are not your intimate confidants. They are your professors. They have the responsibilities of professors towards you, you have the responsibility of students with regard to them; either side stepping over those boundaries in expectations or conduct spells nothing but trouble. Some day, once you have PhD in hand, you may be friends. You are not now.
(B) Your professors are colleagues with one another. They have the professional obligations of colleagues to one another. Some of them may be friends with one another. Some of them may hate one another with a white hot passion. Irrelevant, either way. Are they meeting their professional obligations to one another (showing up at meetings, doing their job, meeting their committee assignments, abiding by relevant non-discrimination policies)? If they are, there’s nothing else to say. If not, that’s the problem–not any interpersonal matter that may be the psychological source of the failure to meet professional obligations.
Or, shorter: boundaries.

9 years ago

“Observe the interactions and interpersonal politics (drama!) of your peers and professors. Don’t assume all the professors (or your peers) want you to succeed, and avoid drama as much as possible.”