The Value of Humor in Grad School

Now that the fall semester is approaching, I like to repost helpful articles for readers returning to academe.   This is reposted from InsiderHigherEd and written by Emiily VanBuren.

When you first start graduate school, it seems like everyone has a piece of helpful advice to impart: Don’t procrastinate. Take your vitamins. Make an appointment with the research librarian ASAP. Read everything. Don’t read everything. And to be sure, there is value in each of these pointers.

But having recently completed the first year of my PhD and currently staring down the second, here are three pieces of advice I wish someone had offered me from the beginning: Learn to laugh, learn to laugh at yourself, and learn to laugh at frustrating situations. Have you ever noticed how many Tumblr blogs there are full of funny graduate school gifs and memes? That’s because a sense of humor is crucial to grad school survival, and this is true for a number of reasons:

1. Because you will fail. Regardless of your field, it’s safe to say you are entering graduate school in order to develop expertise. The point of the dissertation, after all, is to make an original contribution to knowledge. But we all know that the path to success goes something like this: try, fail, reassess, try again, fail again, reassess again, try again, and finally succeed. Graduate school is no different, whether you’re confronting a small assignment (like a research paper) or a massive one (like the dissertation). You will try to make an argument and it won’t be a soaring success. You will take a chance on an exciting methodology and it won’t work out. These failures are part of the process. But I’ve found that many graduate students struggle with them because they are unaccustomed to failure.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed


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