While the school year’s just begun, for some folks, it can’t end quickly enough. That’s especially the case for grad students who’ve spent the better part of two decades in and out of classrooms. If you’re feeling frustrated or in a bit over your head, you’re not alone. To revisit some tips from Madison Moore, the Ph.D. candidate who made waves with his concentration in fierceness, here’s a Thought Catalogue list of 10 people you’re probably going to school with:
1. The know it all who tells you you’ve misinterpreted Marx.
2. The overachiever.
The overachiever is always the first person in the seminar to use words like “hermeneutics.” They have completed the entire semester’s reading in advance and even have suggestions for further reading. They come to class with detailed notes, typed, of course, so as to more easily access their flashes of brilliance. Whenever the professor asks a question the whole seminar table looks at the overachiever, awaiting morsels of genius to drip from their lips. Privately, everybody hates the overachiever but you also rely on them because you know that they help carry the seminar all those times you didn’t do the reading.
3. The one who dates undergrads.
Undergraduates have no clue what graduate students do. For many, graduate students are not even real people — they’re just “creepy,” clueless robots there to grade midterms. But see, therein lies the fascination. Some undergrads get excited about the possibility of dating a graduate student, and that’s just music to the undergrad-dater’s ears because they can’t wait to get to campus so they can start banging sophomores. It’s also kind of against the rules, so don’t do it/keep it on the DL!!
4. The person who thinks the world is an awful place and it’s all society’s fault.
This person is a member of the campus graduate student association and they are always trying to get you to join, and you do because you care about the causes. They use terminology like “Prison-Industrial Complex” in everyday parlance. They rally and protest and have absolutely awful things to say about the world and its numerous problems. Capitalism is bad, universities are bad, everybody is oppressed and we are all doomed. And yet, here they are, in a Ph.D. program.
5. The walking stress bomb.
The walking stress bomb seems to always be nervous or worried about some looming deadline or thing to accomplish. They are worried about talks or papers or journal articles or the job market or what so-in-so professor thinks about them. Graduate school is one giant stress bomb, but you have to learn to prioritize!
6. The chronic masturbator/partier/decadent/Netflix obsessive.
The chronic masturbator/partier/decadent/Netflix obsessive always puts readings and assignments off till the last minute so they can do fabulous things like skip their Hannah Arendt seminar to go to Coachella. Knowing a paper is due in five days, this person spends three of those five days downing 78 episodes of 30 Rock while eating popcorn and Nutella with a spoon. This person puts pleasure first and doesn’t take any of this graduate school stuff so seriously, but in the final hours before the assignment is due delicate genius emerges as if out of thin air.
7. The freeloader.
The freeloader goes to conference talks and departmental brown bag lunches for the free wine, cheese, and meals. They are not all that interested in the panel discussion on “Feminism as Practice — And Praxis.” They have come for the free Indian food from the best Indian restaurant in town. Will also be seen taking a plate home for later.
8. The insanely accomplished.
Possibly a genius, there is not an accolade they don’t have, nothing they’ve never accomplished. The insanely accomplished was born with a book deal from FSG. The insanely accomplished is different from the overachiever, though, because nobody really likes the overachiever and the insanely accomplished makes you want to be better. He or she is relatively coy about their accomplishments, coy in the sense that they only casually drop hints about what they’ve done at every pause in a conversation. But it’s OK — they’re fabulous!
9. The elitist.
The elitist judges you because you don’t spend every waking moment in the library, because your project is in a sexy area like performance studies, visual studies, or celebrity studies. They say things like, “You’re writing a dissertation chapter on Beyoncé? That’s not a real topic.” Gurl….
10. The person who got a better job than you.
By the time you make it through your graduate program and go “on the market” for that coveted assistant professorship at your dream school, you’re sending out dossiers and cover letters and writing samples and all of your self-confidence. You went all out — 50 applications. How many interviews have you scored? Zero! Inevitably people will ask you where you applied but you’re not telling because you don’t want any added competish. And yet, the person who got a better job than you applied to one job and that’s the one he got. WHY!