Best of PhD

I’ve written about the PhD comics before. If you haven’t read them before, then you need to go spend your morning/afternoon/evening/day reading them. Anyway, they’ve been doing a “best of” series over on tapastic, where the creator, Jorge Cham, selected 35 comics to showcase.

There are three that I think are specifically fantastic.

1) By the Numbers

I really like this one because it summarizes well how grad school often feels. You spend what feels like years (and may actually be years) working on a project. But at the end of the day, whether or not all that work is judged as being “good enough” often depends on the results that can, often, be presented as a single graph. Also, I particularly like the “what does it mean” square, because that’s how I generally feel every time I end up immersed in statistics.

2) How to ruin a grad student’s evening

I had a conversation about this concept with a friend (who is also a grad student) the other day. And it’s really sad how easily it seems like most (if not all) grad students get sucked into this feeling. It’s hard to take time off, because you always feel like you should be working. And I often feel like I have a little devil (supervisor) sitting on my shoulder scolding me to get back to work. Of course, this doesn’t help anyone maintain a reasonable work life balance. And feeling like you need to work all the time also doesn’t lend itself to actually being productive when you need to be – see the next comic.

3) How productive I’d be if I didn’t have ISSUES.

I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of time with these thoughts recently. Which all probably continues to point to the fact that I need a break (and I sort of have one coming up). But, sometimes I think grad school is all about breaking you down first before you building you back up. And that’s not to say that I think it should be this way. Just that it often feels like this is sort of the way the journey works. For now, while I continue to work towards the “better me”, I also realize that I need to be able to deal with the “current me.” And so, I use various tools and strategies to help me be at least as productive as I can be, for now.

What’s your favorite PhD comic? It doesn’t have to be from the best of group. Or is there one that particularly speaks to you?

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