Being Married in Grad School

Copyright (Jorge Cham, 2015)

It is often said that Graduate school and Marriage are similar in many ways.

  1. Time Commitment – Typically grad school commitments are between 5-7 years (Ph.D.) which is a substantial amount of time given the usual 3-4 years of high school and college. However, for marriage you make a life-long commitment, but during that time is included the years that you do research, take courses, and work with your advisor. So you have an overlap of graduate school and personal time, but this can be of benefit as being married to someone who is supportive can be the best catalyst to finishing the Ph.D. in a timely manner and avoiding the dreaded perpetual ABD status.
  2. Partnership – When you decide to attend grad school you are paired with an advisor/mentor so that during your time in the program you have someone to guide you. This emulates being married in the pairwise relation between two individuals with a common goal: earning a Ph.D., publishing research, and being ultimately being happy. It takes “two to tango” is true for both your Ph.D. journey and life as a spouse. There is no “I” in Team so you both have to work together to achieve your team and individual goals. If this partnership does not work, then nothing will get done.
  3. Productivity – I find that as a newly married doctoral graduate student, being married and committing to spending the rest of your life with another person can often be the greatest support for your dream of a  rewarding career in academia. Most often having another person(i.e. spouse or advisor) encouraging you in times where you need to be productive can make the difference between submitting a mediocre or excellent paper.

Final Thoughts: Given the benefits of being married while in grad school, do not be dissuaded of making a commitment to the one you love when you are faced between the rigor of grad school. The benefits typically outweigh any potential limitation.

 

 

How Do I Deal With Life in Grad School? COMMUNICATE!

This last week has been the pits for me; First, I got sick, and then a small piece of my back tooth came out, and I need a crown (MAYBE $750 🙁 ). I still have so much to complete to stay on track (a detailed critique/commentary for one class, and I must read a book for another class by tomorrow) but throughout the weekend my body was simply not functioning. So I did what I could during the week, and when everything ended Friday I headed home. I made soup with onions, jalapenos, and green onions and curled up in bed.

A major challenge we face as graduate students (or others in hyper productive environments) is that we get so used to being productive (or at least striving to be) that when we are not working, we experience guilt to different degrees. And this can really weigh down our future efforts.

I was in the bed, sick from the flu, with a toothache I would wish on no one, and yet I still worried about getting my work done, and what would my professors think of me if I did not live up to their expectations. BUT LIFE HAPPENS!!

Continue reading

Struggling to Find a Routine? (It’s okay!)

As I wrap up the 3rd year in my PhD program, I still struggle to find my sweet spot of productivity. BUT THAT’S OKAY!

Graduate school is essentially a marathon; you have a great (intellectual) distance to travel, and the primary goal is to finish. In order to do that, a balance must be struck between academic/professional work and self-care. Very often we forget about how important it is to take care of our mental and physical well-being. When we focus on sprinting too fast for a short distance, we run the risk of burning out (physically, mentally, and emotionally). So how can you negotiate your own balance of well-being and performance?

Continue reading

Making Connections

One of the best things I have done since beginning graduate school at IU is joining a student organization. In my case, I joined the Latino Graduate Student Organization (LGSA). Being a member of LGSA has helped me both academically and socially by making connections with students and faculty.

As graduate students, we tend to stick within our department. Through LGSA I have met students and faculty from various departments such as History and Anthropology and the School of Education. Speaking with people from different disciplines has helped me learn how to frame my research in a way that others can understand it and find it relevant. In addition, it has exposed me to the different types of research being done at IU.

Perhaps the best part about joining a student organization is the supportive community it has to offer. Through LGSA I have formed strong friendships with other grad students. It is great to have people who you can talk to about the challenges and successes you experience in grad school, and life in general.

At IU there are numerous organizations that graduate students can join. I’m sure you can find one that fits what you are looking for!

 

Balancing Family Life and Academic Work

This academic year was a time of change for me: I suddenly became a guardian of my two younger brothers. I moved them to Bloomington with me because I knew they would have a better opportunity here than where they lived. However, I didn’t know how hard it would be to raise them while also continuing my academic career as a PhD student.

Before the boys moved in with me I had planned on being ABD (all but dissertation) by now, but I decided to take things a little slower. I knew raising two boys would be a lot of work but I figured I could easily continue on with my studies without any significant changes… I was wrong. Almost everything changed… Continue reading

Latin@s Represent!

Moving to Indiana three years ago was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Why? Well, for starters I was leaving New York City for a Midwestern town. I was entering a place that didn’t have bodegas (corner stores) in every corner, amazing NY style pizza, or subway stations. But what scared me the most was that I wouldn’t find the same kind of diversity I was accustomed to in NY and I was right. However, I did find a supportive Latin@ community both at IU and in the greater Bloomington community!

Being part of a Latin@ community was very important to me and so the moment I arrived at IU I immediately went to La Casa, the Latino Cultural Center. I was introduced to the small but growing number of Latin@s at IU. I decided to join the Latino Graduate Student Association (LGSA) my first year and am still active to do this day… Continue reading

Taking Advantage of IUware

IU offers a vast amount of wonderful services to its student and IUware is one of them!

IUware is a software distribution service that offers a wide variety of software packages at no charge, including site-licensed products from Adobe, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, and others. The university pays for the relevant licenses through agreements with vendors; this allows students, faculty, and staff to use the programs available through IUware, most free of charge.

I’ve turned to IUware to download software for both my academic and leisurely pursuits. I’ve always loved photography and a few months ago decided to download Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom. I’d never purchased the programs because I couldn’t justify paying such a high price for something I’d only use occasionally but as an IU student I was able to download both completely FREE of charge! It doesn’t get better than that! It’s been a good stress break during the semester.

IUware is constantly updated and new programs are added. Just last week, I downloaded Office 2016 for Mac and love the update. Microsoft has always been slow to release updates for Mac and having it available a few months after it’s official release is great.

IUware is a huge money saver and has something for everyone.

Check it out: https://iuware.iu.edu/

Preparing Future Faculty Conference – 2016

When: February 12th, 8:30am – 5:00pm
Registration: FREE! “Open to all IU graduate students. But to participate in the complimentary lunch, you must register by Monday, February 8th, 2016.”

PFFC is an amazing opportunity for networking, learning about job market, interacting with faculty, and last but not least for great food.

This is one of the professional development opportunities, about which you can put a one-liner on your CV. But it’s also a nice opportunity to set new goals for yourself for the 2016 year, things you learn from this one day conference will help you navigate your grad school with little more ease. Last year I wrote at some length about why this particular conference is important.

Take this opportunity, and see you on 12th!

The Waiting Game After Submitting Applications…

Now is the time of year that you have either submitted all of your graduate school applications or about to finish submitting…what now?

The waiting is rough so I’d like to share with you some advice I got when I was in your shoes.

Go watch a movie! Go enjoy your last semester of either undergrad or your MA program! Seriously go enjoy it!

I had a hard time following this advice because you just want to know if you got into the program of your choice. You want to know what “the rest of your life will look like!” You want to know NOW! Well, you don’t have to know now, and you won’t know for a few weeks or even a few months. So take some time to enjoy where you are now because once you get accepted into your PhD program you will have to start worrying about moving. Worry about that later. Worry about waiting will change nothing. You’ve done your best and now it’s up to them. Besides they won’t even be looking at applications until the New Year around the start of the Spring semester (at least that’s the typical departmental timeline) so don’t worry about it.

Yes, I know it’s easier said then done, but my mentor’s goal with me was: “if I tell you enough times to just worry about time with your friends and the program you are in now maybe you’ll listen to me.” SO my goal with you is to help you stop worrying.

Let me say it again…

Go watch a movie! Go enjoy your last semester of either undergrad or your MA program! Seriously go enjoy it!