On paying your dues

Here’s a mistake I know grad students make.  I know because I made this mistake, and if I can do it, others can too.

Some assume (I did) that being in grad school is about paying your dues.   That once you graduate, you’ve done what was expected of you.  Therefore you are entitled to what’s next (job, career, recognition).  This was a theory I accepted uncritically and now I am paying for it.  Paying doubly as it turns out.

The point at which you graduate from your master’s or your doctorate degree is the point at which you are ready to begin paying your dues (Hall, The Academic Self, 2002).  If you are not embracing this reality going in to grad school, you will pay the extra charge of beating yourself up for, despite all your cleverness and brilliance, not having seen this coming and not having prepared yourself properly.

Which is, of course, complete bunk.

But buyer beware: after approximately two to six years of penury (except for those lucky few who get the elite scholarships) you must be willing to expect the possibility of another two to six years paying your dues.  This means doing a postdoc, getting five to ten publications in order, and working contracts.

The thing is, you are ready, and deep down you know you are.  Admit it and move on.

Gwilym Lucas Eades, PhD Web Site

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