Monthly Archives: April 2015

When Grad Students Don’t Perform: A Lesson in Patience

Lessons in Patience {New Faculty}

“I’ve got this grad student….”

If this were an academic pick-up line, we’d be on our third date already. We’ve all got at least one grad student who…just doesn’t quite understand how life works, how grad school works, or how ‘adulting’ (as i like to fondly call it) works. At all.

There’s a fine line between my expectations of myself and my expectations of my students. This grad student not-with-standing either. I’m highly motivated most of the time. Producing is like oxygen to me and I like doing things (research things) all day, every day. I also like playing games on my phone, going to yoga, going out with my friends, and rotting on my couch. But, I really, REALLY like working. A LOT.

This grad student….they don’t seem to know how to get their shit together. We’ve gone through all of the paces of “what’s the matter?” and done the dance that goes with it. I’ve been the positive boss, the patient mentor, the listening mentor, the understanding and empathetic human, but you know what? I’ve also been pissed off boss. Miraculously, both times I had to raise my voice to ‘teacher level nine’ I got results for several weeks after. I also seem to get blown off, ignored, and totally void of any kind of work for weeks on end as well. As I begin this post, I haven’t seen work for three weeks until this morning. When I emailed and asked for it. And it’s half-assed work in my opinion.

This student doesn’t blow off their work, they’re also blowing off their thesis. So, they’re equal opportunity with their assistantship and their thesis work. That’s slightly comforting on a morbid level. We invest in grad students and their potential. When we begin to get a negative ROI on that, we begin to get annoyed. Put up or shut up. Grad school isn’t just about finding yourself or extending your youth, it’s about getting your next job.

With a mere two weeks left in this semester, I kind of can’t wait for this student to disappear into the sunset. They’ve shown minimal effort, work ethic, and all of the other “soft skill” buzz words I can think of. I don’t know if they’ll finish their thesis and quite frankly, it’s not my problem. I hope they get a job. Although, I haven’t been asked to be a reference for obvious reasons.

I hate to be all ‘negative nancy’ on you grad students, most of you are just fine, but like apples, there’s always that one….that one we can’t ever seem to find, account them for any kind of work, but they’re always the first ones crying wolf about how awful their lives are. If your life is that awful, maybe you need some counseling, but in many cases, life is fine, you’re just looking for another excuse.

Working with students, especially grad students, is truly a lesson in patience for me and my colleagues. We don’t always get it done perfectly either, but we get it done. We show up, and urge our grad students to do the same.

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Please, Stop Assuming I Am A Graduate Student!

i still get asked if i’m a grad student too!

Conditionally Accepted

angie millerDr. Angie L. Miller is an Assistant Research Scientist for the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University, where she studies creativity, student engagement, and arts training in higher education.  In this guest post, Dr. Miller reflects on her experiences of being mistaken for a graduate student at academic conferences, and the social, intellectual, and gendered power undertones of these interactions.   


I would like to be able to attend just ONE conference and not be mistaken for a graduate student. I completed my Ph.D. 6 years ago. At first when people did this, I wasn’t all that bothered by it. I realize that I do look young. I went right from undergrad to my master’s program, and then right into my doctoral program. I took more than full course loads every semester, and was able to finish before I turned 27. Coupled with the blessing (and curse?) of…

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Dating in Academia: Part Deux

Dating in Academia: Part Deux {New Faculty}


It seems that dating a nerd gets a lot of hits. No, not those hits, but web hits from my wordpress stats manager. Let’s keep it up to snuff shall we?

In honor of the ridiculous amount of traffic this first post on dating in academia garnered, I decided that I was indeed a masochist and that this should be a several part series. Part two anyone?

I’m fortunate enough to have some bad-ass, awesome, intelligent lady friends. And “male” friends who are colleagues as well. Instead of just making this a pro-feminism post (but believe me, I’m all about it), I asked the duddddddes for their take. Strangely, we’ve not dated any of our single, male faculty friends. Life is easier when we can commiserate together with drinks after 5 p.m.

Male faculty:

“I tried dating a woman. She was not in academia. She had a kid. Both of those things were fine. She failed to recognize that in search of tenure, I didn’t have a ton of time all of the time hang around waiting for her. She kept lying, stringing me along, even to the point of kissing me and then saying “don’t do that again, but I liked it.” Mixed signal anyone? I get that finding childcare can be tough and respect that, but then found out that her kid was with the other parent for a solid week and she never mentioned it. I dropped that like it was hot. It was a hot mess.” ~paraphrased over friday drinks.

Female faculty:

I made the mistake of dating a grad student. I thought he could handle things. Until the day he said, “if we stay together, you can just get me a partner/spousal hire.” Motive (and deal breaker) revealed. Peace out bro’.

Female faculty:

I tried dating a guy. I appreciate how forthright he was with me, but he didn’t appreciate how quickly I broke it off after he let a major deal breaker out of the gate. Three weeks in he says, “so, you can just move {up here} and work for {obscure, small, rarely hiring college} so I can live close to my mom and dad.” EXCUSE ME??? I tried to get to the bottom of this fierce desire to live close to mom/dad but the only reply was, “i need to live near them, i will sacrifice having a fulfilling career if i can see them several times a week.” Which he was, he was not getting work. He complained about it daily, but his parents are healthy and very active, his other siblings had moved for jobs, and he clearly said, “you’ll just have to drop everything you have going on if this is going to work.” No, this isn’t going to work.

Female faculty:

I matched with a guy online. We started chatting through the service. It turned into a “what should I do with my career?” talk. I felt like an admissions counselor. I have no trouble talking future self with people, but not men in their mid-30’s who are trying to woo me, it felt like an 18 year old with his mom in tow.

If you have an awesomely, horrific dating story in academia, email me: domesticatedacademic@gmail dot com. I’ll post it. Yes I will…..We have to have a *little* fun don’t we?

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Go Play in Traffic: Undergrad Edition

Go Play in Traffic {New Faculty}

Me. Working on Sunday.

I have to confess. I’m rugged like Sean Connery with Dolly Parton hair right now. In the process of growing it out to donate, it gets to that stage where it pretty much “does what it wants” and we’ve reached that stage. Add in the humidity that’s beginning to seep back into my life, and “poof” it’s my hair.

I’m sporting my favorite flannel shirt right now that was mostly clean when I put it on after I showered after I went to yoga, did laundry, and grabbed some coffee before coming into the office where I’m probably not going to change anyone’s life today.

EXCEPT for this one UNDERGRAD.

Who is in on Sunday’s as well for her part time job.

And reminded me last week what a mess I was looking like.
And once again reminded me again today.

And I told her to go play in traffic.

Listen students. We don’t have an endless supply of clean khaki’s. Well, I don’t. I don’t like wearing them every day. This flannel shirt is pretty awesome. The pants I’m wearing are at least a size too big, making them extremely comfortable.

Back to my hair: it’s a mess. I washed it. I combed it. I didn’t do anything else to it. BECAUSE IT’S SUNDAY.

I’m clean. I’m dressed. What more do these kids want?

I know what I want: summer.

No working on Sunday’s during the summer.

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Dating in Academia

Dating in Academia {New Faculty}

I’d like to spend a post talking about what it’s like dating as an academic. In case you don’t want to read all the way until the end, let me summarize this for you quickly: it’s quite awful.

If you care to keep reading, please do 🙂

Dating is tough, no matter what you do or where you live. All of the online stuff exposes you to more people, but doesn’t mean you get a “match” in most cases. I’ve done my fair share of dating and only a few have made it to what I like to call “the lightning round” or the “meet the parents” round. I know the research and statistics on marriage, divorce, and staying single. As someone who has been married, divorced, in long-term relationships, and now single, I can say this: it’s rough out there for anyone.

In the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d regale you with some quick stories from the field. You can call it research if you’d like. I decided to do what any living, breathing human would do: I asked my academic girlfriends to share their stories. I also included a few of my own.

Here we go:

“I went out with one guy. I told him I was a professor, where I’d gone to college, etc…. over coffee. The man excused himself to the bathroom, came out and said, “I’ve gotta go, I can’t do this, I knew you were smart, but Ivy league?” and left.”

“I went out for coffee with a guy who proceeded to tell me his philosophy on life and how his only goal was to just wait until he could retire. Not much there in the way of ambition or goals. When I told him about myself, his only comment was, “so, you really want to live a full and good life? that seems worthless.””

“A guy who said he was in the medical field (fine), but upon meeting him, he proceeded to tell me how he’d gotten let go due to “legal infractions” and was busy making sandwiches waiting to see if he got his “license” back. Liar, liar, pants on fire? Cannot deal with liars.”

“Didn’t even get to meet one man. He stalked, harassed, and then proceeded to send me no less than 19 messages one day in a row that went from “hey, how are you?” to “what the hell? why aren’t you answering me?” I had been on the phone taking a work call that lasted about 10 minutes. Slow your roll.”

I could do this for a few more rounds, but to spare you the details, I’ll summarize by saying this:

Academia is isolating and filled with nerds. I like nerds. I am a nerd. Dating is really hard though. As a female, I’m sure all the ladies out there can share and have similar stories to my four quick anecdotes above. It’s incredibly difficult to find a good man who understands what we do, why we’re workaholics, and still respects us after knowing that we went through massive amounts of training and education to get to the lower rungs of academia.

If you decide to date an academic know the following:

  • We’re usually highly self-motivated
  • We keep odd hours
  • We probably won’t be home waiting for you with a hot meal.
  • We’ll probably get home later than you and leave earlier so you better know how to get your own meals & be self sufficient.
  • We’re quite independent.
  • We’re used to rejection, so if it isn’t working out for you, just say so.
  • Work life balance is this thing we read about but rarely do.
  • We speak our own language. Learn some of ours if you plan on conversing and we’ll learn some of yours.
  • Grant deadlines are a thing that haunt our dreams and ruin our days.
  • So are submission deadlines.
  • We do love you. We want to be with you, but we get distracted by a deadline.
  • We’re faithful, loyal, and loving. We believe in our science the way we believe in our partnerships and will usually stick with both through the high’s and low’s. That’s saying a lot!

In short, dating in academia is pretty much as bad as it is in any field. Since you can’t fake chemistry, there’s likely to be a lot of frogs before you land anything close to prince charming.

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