Being a grad student isn’t always glamorous. Sure, you get to do research and think about science (or fill in that blank appropriately) but sometimes, you’ve gotta walk that line and tow that mark.
Grad school is a great place to make mistakes, to learn, and to grow cognitively. In so many ways, school is for making mistakes. BUT, it’s also about learning from those mistakes. It’s about growth. It’s about becoming a better researcher. It’s about learning to become a better researcher from making mistakes. Righting the proverbial ship is of the utmost importance. You’re bound to make mistakes but how you handle yourself can make a world of difference.
Some have a harder time than others. Many students who come to a PhD program have worked before and are returning to school after years in the work world. Learning to be a student can be tough and boundaries can be hard to reign in, particularly for “adults” who’ve been out in the working world. I’ve heard of two cases as of late who caught my attention, but unfortunately for the wrong reasons.
My piece of sage advice for this week: Be willing to be mentored.
I don’t know how else to spell it out. Saying you’re willing and actually allowing the process to work are two totally different things. Assuming responsibility for your mistakes and your wins are both equally important. The relationships you make or don’t make with your faculty can mean everything and nothing very quickly. I’m not here to make anyone feel bad or to say that I didn’t make mistakes, but I think it’s cause for pause at this point to recognize that being mentored isn’t just about sitting down and listening to a senior faculty discuss theory.
It’s about putting those things into action.
I urge you to check in with yourself this week. Whether a grad student or young faculty, take a moment of pregnant pause to say, “how am i doing?” and if you have great pause about any of it, perhaps it’s time to take some notes. Being perfect isn’t the goal, but being better is. Checking in with yourself can avert crisis later on and set you up to be more successful. As our department welcomes in potential graduate students this week for interviews, it’s the number ONE piece of advice I’ll be giving to anyone who asks. Be willing and we will meet you halfway there.