Week in Review BONUS Edition: Starting Off Right

Feet walking on books

Advice #1: If you can't reach the top of your bookshelf, invest in a proper footstool.

Happy Labor Day! The beginning of the academic year has generated a plethora of “starting off right” articles, for everyone from new undergraduates to new professors. (Count ESN as part of the trend, too, with our Best Advice for Undergrads post.) Here’s a quick collection of links about starting off on the right foot.

1. Make College Count by Derek Melleby. Friend of ESN Derek Melleby has a new book coming out for students entering college — Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life & Learning. And, of course, he’s got a new website, too, including blog on making college count.

2. Making the Most out of College: Hmm…one day, I’ll have to write a post about our tendency to talk about our college experience as “making” something. Anyway, InterVarsity’s own Kevin Offner, on IV’s StudentSoul website, suggest four areas for your focus, starting with number one:

First, love Jesus Christ more than anyone or anything else. Four years of college fly by faster than you might imagine. And there are so many things you could give yourself to — so many things that can fill up your time. That’s why all your decisions need to be made in light of your relationship with Jesus. Is getting straight A’s your greatest goal? Or are friendships your primary concern? What about extra-curricular sports or clubs? Or again, overwhelmed by all the choices, will you attempt to become a “Renaissance person,” dabbling in a little bit of everything, a jack-of-all-trades while a master of none?

Photo credit: Justin Litton via Flickr

3. 10 Easy Ways to Fail a PhD: University of Utah computer science professor Matt Might offers his observations on why so many students fail to finish their PhD — or take far longer than necessary or wise to finish. I’m not sure Dr. Might (what a name!) says anything that hasn’t been said elsewhere, but it’s always good to hear the truth over and over again. Here’s one reason, though, that particularly struck me, considering the many conversations we have at ESN about life-work balance.

[Failing PhDs] Treat Ph.D. school like school or work

Ph.D. school is neither school nor work.

Ph.D. school is a monastic experience. And, a jealous hobby.

Solving problems and writing up papers well enough to pass peer review demands contemplative labor on days, nights and weekends.

Reading through all of the related work takes biblical levels of devotion.

Ph.D. school even comes with built-in vows of poverty and obedience.

The end brings an ecclesiastical robe and a clerical hood.

Students that treat Ph.D. school like a 9-5 endeavor are the ones that take 7+ years to finish, or end up ABD.

(HT: Don Paul Gross)

4. So You Want to Go to Grad School: Calvin professor James K. A. Smith offers some good advice with a new series he calls “So You Want to Go to Grad School.” As of today (I’m writing this on Friday), he’s two posts in, with the latest post on choosing your discipline (and why it’s important to do so, even if you want to work in an interdisciplinary area).

5. ProfHacker’s Open Letters Series: I’ve been a fan of ProfHacker since before it hit the big time and joined up with the Chronicle. Anywho, check out their 2010-11 Open Letters series, with advice for all sorts of different people:

6. NPR: Three books for surviving graduate school: Finally, molecular biologist Adam Ruben offers his suggested readings – and, spoiler alert, only one of the three is directly connected to graduate school. (BTW, Ruben is also the author of a recent book that I’m adding to my wish list: Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Graduate School.)

7. Finally, some (possible?) encouragement for science PhDs: David Ng asks How long would your Ph.D. have taken if everything worked? His answer might be encouraging if you’re in the middle of your PhD, though maybe not if you’re just starting out or yet to begin.

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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