Why would you voluntarily commit to a project in which you have to make yourself sit with the computer for longer than you anyway do? Why would you write for the blog, as if you don’t do enough writing while trying to churn out a doctoral dissertation. And you don’t even get paid (when did graduate students ever stop complaining about that!).
What is in it for me?
But really, my sanity!
All contributors to this blog have volunteered themselves for even more to clutter the day. I think the key lies in the way this clutter is arranged around our lives. As a character in the PhD Movie says, “graduate students are not one-dimensional people”. We are all smart, we all have the brains that function well, and we have passions. We are all almost always passionate about the work we do (although this passion varies depending on the day and the stage of your degree), and we have passions that lie beyond. We are also personalities that extend beyond a transcript or a dissertation. And this might even be the key to doing better at graduate school. Someone once told me that if the student feels a sense of community or kinship, they are more likely to finish grad school well.
I always like to think the graduate degree is not just about the sheet of paper that you receive at convocation. It is about training for life. Like in life, during a graduate career you will go through several phases, now enamored with the degree, now heart broken. You will learn to manage people, projects, ideas and even creativity. You go through ups and downs. Like in life, you make friends while refusing to accept that you will have to let them go someday. Just as it happens in real life, the friends finish their business and you all move on. It is never ever easy, and yet we refuse to see it. …where did I digress?
Coming back to where I began: I write this blog just so that I have more to do during my day. As graduate students our brains are livewires, always brimming with brighter newer ideas. One needs to find the correct outlets for all this energy. After all, we constitute the educated youth of the world, and we determine the course of this world. In fact, we owe it to the oursleves to make the best use of all the resources at our disposal. Take on as many tasks as don’t drive you nuts. Start a club and pompously promote it, join a student society and organize activities, be an International Buddy, write funding proposals, do your own research, write for this blog, read widely, borrow books and DVDs from the rather rich libraries; here at McGill, there is no dearth of things to choose from. Trust me, you will finish it all well. And this is another way in which graduate school is useful: you get to test your own limits. Very useful for future life, I tell you!