Advice from your Elders

Advice from Your Elders
(Some graduated and some not)

On Courses:

“They will not look at your stats mark for any of the following: getting a loan, when submitting a paper, getting a marriage license, buying a car, purchasing a house, getting into the afterlife, or pretty much any other important thing that will ever happen to you. So, don’t stress too much over it.” – Chris Fennell (Dev.)

“When deciding on courses, ask someone about the course before you sign up for it.”- Candace Hoffman

“As a grad student, it may happen that you are suddenly faced with not being the smartest person in your classes any more. Don’t worry: you didn’t suddenly get dumb, you are just one of a number of very smart people.” – Sherri Widen

On Research:

“BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER. My hard drive suddenly died; I had to pay $500 to a specialist to get my data back (and that was relatively cheap!). A $20 set of 50 DVDs that you back up to once a week is super easy, and really, really, really worth it! Don’t wait ’till that fateful crash or stolen laptop to realize you didn’t back up that chapter you’ve been researching all year.” – Emma Buchtel (Soc.)
(technology keeps on moving, nowadays check out the many online methods of backup. – az)

“Saying ‘Yes’ often to opportunities is great, but also learn how to say ‘no, while that is an excellent opportunity, and an interesting project, I am focusing my efforts on my thesis right now. (Do as I advise, not as I did!!!!) Remember: Your time is valuable! You are valuable. It is easy as a grad student to forget that because we have such low incomes.” – Melanie Badali (Clin.

“Don’t tie your sense of self-worth inversely to the size of your obtained p values (or effect sizes). Write. A lot. That is the be-all and end-all of academic life, so get used to it. (See Paul Silvia’s “How to Write A Lot” book.)” – Catherine Rawn (Soc.)

“Different projects move at different paces. Some experiments are quick and easy, while others can take a very long time to get right. If your classmate just got his or her thesis work published and you’re still collecting data, it doesn’t mean that you’re behind. If you’re worried, talk to your supervisor, as he or she will have more perspective.” – Kirsten Dalrymple (Cog.)

On Being a Grad Student:

“1. A piece of advice: Be nice to everyone, you never know when you might need a favour (or a reference letter).
2. If you don’t know the answer, pretend you do and look it up later.
3. Grad school is a job, it’s only part of your life for a short time, so don’t forget to live life too.” – Tanna Mellings, (Clin.)

“Don’t get caught up in other people’s psychopathology. Some people obsess about things weeks in advance while others are desperately doing things at the last minute. For the most part, all of these different ways tend to work so don’t let the example of others convince you that what works for you is necessarily wrong.” – Darcy Hallett, (Dev.)

“Schedule a holiday at least once every four months and get away from Vancouver in order to maintain your own mental health – you can afford to take time off as you get so much more done when you have refuelled yourself.”– Sarah Newth, (Clin.)

“Get involved with departmental activities like the GSC, pub nights or the softball team. This a great way to meet new friends and to have fun (which you will need to get through the more stressful times).”- Sarah Newth, (Clin.)

“Once you get your office assignment, don’t be shy when asking your office mates about whose shelves are whose. You may discover that the filled-to-capacity filing cabinet is actually a shrine to students who have been gone for 8+ years. When I moved into my office, the learned Ph.D. students who initially told me there was no room for a new student, eventually helped me to pack up 14 boxes of junk that had been left behind their predecessors.” – Alexis Kennedy, (For.)

“While ‘time management skills’ are essential for graduate students, ‘prioritization’ skills trump them in my opinion. Keep in touch with your core personal values and career goals, and work from there. “ – Melanie Badali (Clin.)

“Enjoy the downtime! Sometimes you’re swamped and other times you’ll be looking for something to do with your time. It’s ok to take some time off. Take a spontaneous vacation, do some of those chores that you’ve been putting off, write to your Grandmother. Things will get busy again soon, so get a breather when the breathing’s good!” – Kirsten Dalrymple (Cog.)

“Join the GSC. With great responsibility comes great power.” – Azim Shariff (Soc.)

“To get through first year, follow these three simple rules:

  • As Rami Nader suggests, repeat over and over, “May is almost here, May is almost here”
  • Do some good downward social comparison. Find someone a year or two ahead of you and tell yourself, “if she/he got through, I sure will.”
  • Have regular sex.” – Eli Puterman (Clin.)

“Take lots of naps.” – Rami Nader, (Clin.)