Welcome to Grad | Logic. A blog about graduate education. And life. I have been thinking about graduate education for over twenty years. Actually, if you read the About page, it is closer to 25 years. I have a lot of advice and opinions about graduate education. I have a particular affinity for doctoral students, since I have been researching and writing about doctoral education since I wrote my dissertation.
Helping doctoral students to thrive while they are students, and helping them make successful transitions into their professional lives. That motivates this blog. Blog posts will feature strategies for success that I have seen work. Reviews of books relevant to graduate students are likely to pop up.
Doctoral education is different from all of the prior stages of schooling. From elementary school through college, the name of the game was go to class, do the assignments, get a grade on it from the teacher. Then, knowing you, you passed the classes, completed that year, and moved to the next one. The basic format is unchanging from year to year.
But once you start a PhD program, the fundamental structure changes completely. In fact, there is very little structure. There is one overwhelmingly huge assignment. The criteria for success are much vaguer, and the time frame is unspecified. Ask an important question, develop a strategy to get some answers (a research method), seek those answers, and then write about in a few carefully honed papers or a long book-length manuscript. A dissertation. How long will that take? A few years. How will you know it is good enough? When a group of professors says so. How do you learn how to do this? By observation, trial and error, instruction from those around you, teaching yourself, and maybe a couple of classes along the way. And in parallel you are learning to be a professional and prepare for your career.
Well no wonder it feels disorienting. Anxiety provoking. You may well have moments (lots of them) where you find yourself filled with self-doubt.
“Can I do this?”
Yes. Yes, you can. You are smart enough. You have lots of skills and qualities that will lead to your success. I plan to demystify and explain this different educational enterprise. I hope to provide some short cuts. I will provide tried and true strategies for success. I want to encourage you. To help you to maintain an even keel and keep making your way forward. To celebrate your success. To recover from your failures and setbacks.
I think of this blog rather like being a columnist on the Opinions page of a newspaper. I suppose that the reference to newspapers betrays my roots in the twentieth century. But the improvement that a blog has over a newspaper is that there is dialogue. You get to comment and I can respond.
I want to learn from the students who read this. What are you worried about? What strategies have you developed that help you to thrive? Who inspires you?
Welcome. Here’s to a growth-filled and productive year.