Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mental Health Dialogue: 2017 Edition, Part 2 is up

Over at Not The Lab, Vinylogous responds on our dialogue about mental health and graduate school: 
I think, moreover, that we (as a community) have increasingly brought up the stresses and downsides of grad school—the nebulousness, the power dynamics, the understated role of serendipity in success and failure, the disconnectedness. I've also talked about the above to a lot of students who were either considering applying to grad school or who were visiting on recruiting weekends. 
But I don't think a single one of them took my advice. (This relates to your desire for a rational self-imposed test). 
It's a little puzzling. Given broader exposure to grad school problems, shouldn't fewer people be going to grad school? (Maybe there are—I don't have a handle on the exact numbers, but my impression is that the ranks of scientific PhD students are as full as ever). 
My impression is that as humans we all suffer from profoundly terrible objective foresight. ("Maybe it'll be different for me," we think. It usually isn't, of course). And that's part of the grad-school-mental-health problem. The only people who might realistically make a substantial change (grad students themselves, acting en masse) are only in the system for a few years, and those there for longer (PIs and administration) have little to gain from changing anything.
Go over there and read and enjoy. (He also gets a bit political, which is fun.)