Mondays are typically the days when lots of new articles end up in my inbox for me to read. Two of them caught my attention today, both on the topic of Ph.D. programs. The first is a blog post from an older graduate student who is early in her Ph.D. program. In it she describes her long road to becoming a graduate student and talks a bit about what she’s doing now. It’s clear that she’s early in the program, as the post has the excited feeling that new graduate students tend to have. For contrast, the next article I read was a call for changing the way Ph.D. programs are run. In it many of the issues that anyone who has been in graduate school for any lengthy period of time knows: problems with advisors, issues with funding, poor completion rates (not unrelated to the previous two), and demand in various disciplines. The focus is Canadian institutions, but many of the ideas are equally applicable in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Reading all of this reminds me both of the things I loved about graduate school (learning all the time, working on great problems 24/7, the excitement of the future, etc.) and all the things I hated (being poor, anxiety about my abilities, feeling insecure about the future, etc.) Above all else it reminds me how happy I am to have that time in my life done. Yes, there are parts of being a faculty member I don’t enjoy (grading and committee work, I’m looking at you), but it is so much better than when I was a graduate student.