grad skool rulz #6 – make some friends
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My advice in this installment is simple: make some grad school friends. Your ultimate success in grad school depends on the creativity and effort you invest in your work, but having a good set of friends is important. Here’s what your friends can do for you, and what you can do for them:
- Offer emotional support. Grad school isn’t easy and it’s hard for your family or non-academic buddies to really empathize. It’s good to have people who understand what you are going through.
- Offer information. Your friends often have important “local knowledge” about how things work in your program. Advanced grad school buddies can be very useful in helping you find an advisor and other dissertation related topics.
- Offer academic help. I have been helped many times by people who know how to format a table, or fill out an application, or run a regression. Have a decent set of friends means I have more people to ask about my problems.
- Start a project. You can team up with a buddy to write a paper. It is often better to be co-author #2 on a grad student paper than be author #8 on mega-team paper lead authored by super-famous advisor who gets all the credit.
- Have fun. One of my favorite moments in grad school was when Millsaps political scientist Michael Reinhardt (electric guitar) and I (trumpet/flute) helmed the “Hyde Park Jazz Unit.” Fun, and we actually got paid a few times. [Other personnel: Minnesotta Geographer Frank Shockey on Alto Sax, New York hipster/Columbia musicologist Paul Steinbeck on bass, Leon on drums, with Chicago soc grad student music/culture ethnographer Nick Dempsey occasionally on tenor… The Chicago Maroon once described the HPJU as a weird funk/ Thelonious Monk hybrid.]
You shouldn’t be a complete social butterfly and spend all your time socializing, or pretend to be everyone’s friend. But do realize that having just a few good, dependable friends can make a big difference in the quality of your graduate education.