The Chemist: My 2 Cents About Grad School

Hey everyone! This week's topic is for us to share something we've learned so far in school/work, so I'm going to give my 2 cents about being in grad school.

Now I know you've heard me say how hard it is, because it is and I don't want to sugarcoat that. There are a lot of emotions you go through, growth that happens, learning that stretches your thinking all happening at once and it does get overwhelming at times, but there are good times with the bad. Today I want to share a few small pieces of advice with you all about navigating it all.

The first thing is sacrifice. Sacrifice is one of those things you have to be careful doing because you never want to sacrifice your mental/emotional health or general wellbeing to meet deadlines. At the same time, you also don't want to be lazy. There is a fine line that you can't cross when it comes to it. For example, working on the weekends sometimes is a sacrifice that you can definitely make. I'm like the next person and love sleeping in on the weekends, but sometimes when it comes to research you need that sixth day to finish collecting some data. Note that some advisors you may end up working for require working six days a week, so just be mindful of that. My advisor doesn't require it, but he also believes that it has to be done at times. I'm going to be in the lab myself this Saturday because I'm trying to finish this project and because of it, I have to rearrange when I'm going to be running my errands. At the end of the day, small sacrifices, when done for something more important, are definitely worth it. Just make sure you're not sacrificing too much of yourself to do it.

Another piece of advice I'd give is to not compare yourself to the people around you. This goes for any environment you're in, but I'll focus on the student perspective. You are probably smart wherever you are in school right now and if you decide to continue your education further, the number of smart kids increases dramatically so by the time you're in a Master's or PhD program everyone around you is smart. Always remember that there may be someone better at one thing that you aren't so good at, but flip side is true too. You're going to be better at than the person next to you at other things. Instead of beating yourself up over your "downfalls", use them as motivation. The more you compare yourself to other people, the worse you feel about yourself and you start focusing on the wrong things. Don't focus on what that person is doing and focus on doing what you're supposed to do. You'll drive yourself crazy worrying about other people. Instead, learn from those people and help others learn. from you. I'm pretty much pro-group work at this point because in a lot of cases teamwork makes the dream work. If you're not pro-group work, that's fine too! Nothing is wrong with that, but do not get in our own heads about what other people are doing. Remember they are not going to issue your degree and you probably won't even see post graduation. Just do you, boo boo.

But I think over the past 18 months those are the two most important things that I've had to learn super quick and have helped me so far. I'll keep you posted if I have a few more cents to throw at you about grad school.

If you have any other pieces of advice about navigating school in general, tweet me and let me know!

-The Chemist

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