Surviving and Thriving in Grad School

Here’s an article I wrote on how to survive and thrive in grad school. It was published in the American Philosophical Association (APA) blog:

An excerpt:
One of the biggest traps you can fall into is to fail to be grateful for the extreme privilege of going to grad school. You begin to complain about how hard your life is. We all do it. But take a look around at how the majority of the world lives. Most people struggle just to survive. And if they aren’t struggling, they go to work at a job they probably wouldn’t choose if not for purely pragmatic reasons.

But you get paid to study and write about the things you love under the tutelage of experts. Think about it. Like just about every PhD student, you have a scholarship and stipend. Your education is free and–depending on the institution–you have somewhere between just enough for a simple life or a little more.

Most importantly, you chose this life. Unlike so many in this world, this life was not a choice forced upon you. Of all the possible choices you could have made after completing undergrad, you chose grad school. Nay, you had the privilege of making a choice.

Don’t let these thoughts stray far from your mind. It’s vital that you keep this attitude of gratitude throughout your studies. You chose pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. What made you think it would be easy? Or that you wouldn’t have to struggle? Isn’t that part of the reason you chose it in the first place?

When things get tough, remind yourself of the extreme privilege you have; that this was your choice; that you had a choice; that society pays you to do what you purport to love.

You are privileged beyond most of humanity for all of human history.

Be grateful.

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