Thursday, January 3, 2013

Upcoming dialogue: "Is graduate school in chemistry bad for your mental health?" with Not the Lab and Chemjobber

Daily Pump Trap and another post are going to be up soon, but I wanted to mention that Vinylogous Aldol of Not the Lab and I were doing to have a "Slate Dialogues"-style conversation about the following topic:

"Is graduate school in chemistry bad for your mental health?"

Topics will include perseverance, stress, that one crazy guy/gal, are organic chemists awesomer or stupider than analytical chemists?, academic culture, work/life balance, resentment, etc. 

Tune in on Monday AM for the first post here (January 7, 2013), with the 2nd post over at Not the Lab on Tuesday. 

13 comments:

  1. The answer seems so transparently, obviously yes that I question the sanity of anyone arguing otherwise (sorry if it's you!).

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  2. "are organic chemists awesomer or stupider than analytical chemists"

    I'm both. Does that make me stupidly awesome? Or awesomely stupid?

    Also, could always include a discussion of how to properly disagree/fight with your boss (a necessary skill if you want to avoid stupid side projects/defend on time/leave with your mind intact and a recommendation letter you can use)

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  3. I don't think graduate school is bad for your mental health, but my invisible friend disagrees.

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  4. Have you seen the latest on how to get more students into STEM...?

    http://nation.time.com/2013/01/03/college-costs-will-tuition-discounts-get-more-students-to-major-in-science/?xid=gonewsedit&google_editors_picks=true

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    1. Discounting an inferior good.

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  5. "Is graduate school in chemistry bad for your mental health?" --- Not anymore. All those senseless acts of grizzly axe violence (and lately also the engrossing lifestyle of a smack addict) have calmed my nerves considerably since the grad school experience

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    Replies
    1. ROFL. It's good that you were able to find a satisfying hobby.

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    2. Borrowed some therapeutic lessons from Patrick Bateman, I see.

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  6. I believe I was the only one in my grad school lab not on antidepressants. And there were days that I really thought about making an appointment.

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  7. I remember the occasions when one of my colleagues, who was in her final year, would forget to take her meds. She would then proceed to deal with her stress at glassware cleaning time by violently throwing her glassware into the sink. Happy days.

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  8. A question is whether the lack of apparent sanity in grad school is imprinting by the experience or whether it's an expression of what grad students are - whether grad students are selected or select themselves for grad school based on traits that correlate to or lead directly to unsane behavior. While most people have some research experience going in to grad school, the experience is probably different when "the work is play for mortal stakes". Where I went, the selection process was not humane (though, in my case, I'm not sure it gave the wrong answer). In undergrad, you can play at chemistry because it's fun, but when you're chained to the hamster wheel, it can stop being fun.

    The grad school experience could do with more respect for the individual involved rather than being like threshing wheat. More honesty about the nature of grad school early on would help (how it works, how it's different than what you've seen), and the lack of job prospects don't improve the sanity of grad students or their happiness if they are sane (because the likelihood of getting a job is decoupled more from your efforts and performance, though I guess that would sum up my complaints about our economy). When you drive people hard, though, at least some of what comes through is them.

    A counterargument would be to look at the less sane people from grad school to see if they became happier and more sane out of grad school - I suspect that most of them probably are. It's still a question.

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