25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

What is a “weekend”?

1. Telling children you’re in the 25th grade.

2. It’s been at least 10 years since you had a “real” weekend.

3. Realizing your vocabulary is permanently scattered with words like “problematic” and “ontological” and “hegemony.”

4. Coming up with all of your good ideas in the shower…

…and no good ideas during your oral defense.

5. Going to parties and everyone’s just standing around talking about their research.

…because none of you are in touch with pop culture in the slightest.

6. When your undergrads ask constantly, “Is this going to be on the exam?”

7. Your average dinner is a bag of frozen vegetables topped with leftover shredded cheese and hot sauce.

8. When someone claims that being in a doctoral program isn’t “the same thing as having a real job”:

9. Trying to date another Ph.D. student:

10. Unironically referring to the library or the lab as “home.”

11. …and feeling ultra-guilty anytime you try to relax.

12. Finding an old paper you wrote your first year of grad school:

13. Realizing where most of your stipend went.

14. When master’s degree students complain about their workload, you’re just like:

15. Trying to make non-academic small talk with your advisor at a reception:

16. When all of your colleagues are married, and you’re just like:

17. Feeling some degree of “impostor syndrome” at least once a day.

…as in, you’re just waiting for someone to realize that they made a HUGE mistake letting you into your program and to swiftly kick you out.

18. When someone asks you for the 357th time what your dissertation is about:

19. How you feel when your annual conference is in Hawaii:




… versus Rochester:

20. Seeing someone on your dissertation committee outside of school:

21. Grading your undergrads’ papers:

22. When someone asks how “writing” is going:

23. Trying to say something romantic to your significant other after a long day of coursework:

24. Explaining to your friends with 9-to-5 jobs why you can’t go out on Friday night.

25. When ANYONE asks you what your plan is after you graduate:

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