The Chemist: Grad School Blues

Hey everyone! So we always blog about the fun stuff about our jobs/graduate school, but this week we thought we'd tell you about the frustrations of what we're doing with our lives now. When people come and ask me about how I feel about pursuing my PhD, I try to be as open and transparent as possible because I truly was NOT prepared for this journey at all. So here are my three biggest Graduate School Blues.

1. Time Commitments

So my biggest beef with graduate school is that I literally have NO time to/for myself. There's always something I have to be working on, whether it's homework, research, teaching, writing, presentations etc. Then, when you think you have a free moment, something else comes up. It's a never-ending cycle of stuff happening at all times. Work-life balance is very hard to maintain at this level, which is why I stress in other blog posts about finding an outlet and learning to say "No". It's veeryyyyyyyy easy to get overwhelmed about everything you have on your plate. Shoot, yesterday I got overwhelmed at the mere thought of everything I have to get done before I leave for a conference next week. A lot of times in grad school it feels like you're being pulled in a million directions at once. If you're experiencing that, know that you're not alone, and remember to BREATHE! You can do this.

2. Research Woes

Anyone pursuing a research-based degree knows first hand that there's a love/hate relationship between you and your project(s). Some projects work right away, others take a little more troubleshooting, but it ALWAYSSSSS sucks when you think something's going to work and it doesn't. I cannot tell you how many times I've been defeated by my work. I'll go in lab, have thought through my experiment (or so I thought), start collecting data, and nothing. It doesn't work and I have zero clue why. There have been times when I'm working my children (my lovely undergrads) and our experiments don't work initially, I try to make it a teaching moment and troubleshoot it, and THAT doesn't work, so I just threaten the mass spec and send them home. Since my degree is based off my work, it's very easy to feel like I'm failing to make progress and that turns into a whole thing mentally, because I'm very much capable of doing this work, I'm kind of smart, etc. So yea, research can be extremely frustrating.

3. Teaching

So my newfound frustration is teaching. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching and I love my kiddos, but it is wayyyyyy more work than I had expected. I literally don't know how I would've been able to go to all these meetings, teach my required sections, hold office hours, AND grade on top of classes. #ThankGodforFellowships ! On top of the time commitments part, teaching has added frustrations because you want to be as effective as possible for your students and sometimes your methods just aren't working. I'm trying to be good at switching up how I relay information to them to meet their learning styles, but it's HARD. Then it's like I want them all to be successful, so I try to be as accessible to them as I can be, but there will always be students that don't put in the effort to do well. It's a learning experience for sure.

I hope you all could relate on some level to my frustrations with grad school. Tweet me some of yours.

See you next week!

-The Chemist

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