roasting marshmellows in phd hell

3 Questions You Should Never Ask a PhD Student

with 8 comments

If you are so unlucky to be the friend/significant other/neighbor of a PhD student, this short list may help you avoid some awkward social terrain:

1. How’s it going?

Terrible.  Don’t ask.

Though a more offensive sub-variation of this question is “How’s your paper/essay going?”  My paper/essay is going fine because it was 500 words

What keeps me looking so young and fresh?  Foucault and Puppies, dahling.

What keeps me looking so young and fresh? Foucault and Puppies, dahling.

and I finished it as a first-year undergraduate.  I am doing a DISSERTATION. (throws self on floor kicking and screaming in the manner of a cartoon dictator.  Makes bodysuit out of puppies)


2. When will you be finished?

As I have told you repeatedly for the last coughcoughcough years, I have no fucking idea.  It’s done when it’s done.  I am not trying to be coy or zen about this, I swear.  I honestly have no fucking idea.

Sometimes people will ask follow up questions like, ‘well how many pages does it have to be?”  Again, see my answer to numero dos, part 1.  Nobody knows any of this shit.  The requirements for a phd are about as clear and factual as a campfire ghost story.  In fact, nobody in my department is willing to give concrete numbers.  The advice is usually something really helpful like, “it shouldn’t be short.  but you don’t want it to be too long either.  And beware of a scratching disembodied hand on the roof of your car if you’ve parked at Lookout Point.”

3. No, seriously!  When will you be finished?


Written by universityoflies

February 26, 2013 at 22:50

8 Responses

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  1. This post makes me very happy that my short investigation into a PhD program never materialized into the actual admission. Being waitlisted was quite the gift. The sheer ambiguity of what you describe would make me drop everything and walk away forever. Good luck on finishing the diss. I personally know a few people who are doing just this right now.


    February 27, 2013 at 02:51

    • The ambiguity only gets weirder and more ambiguous! I think I will do a post about adviser feedback next, thanks for the brainwave, 2yearlifeofthemind! And yes congratulations on being waitlisted! What a freaking gift!


      February 27, 2013 at 13:45

  2. I used to just wanna fucken hit people — asking me those questions as if I was a cake in the oven or something. But then … it’s not like anyone except maybe two other people can actually talk to you about what you diss is about, so everyone else just reverts to this shit. I always wanted to respond but never did with something individually tailored, like: “um, yeah. How’s that diet going for ya? Have you lost that 20 pounds yet? No, seriously, when are you going to get rid of that fat ass and flabby gut?” Because, you know, it’s my business to prod you in your misery with my genuine concern.

    recent Ph.D.

    February 27, 2013 at 02:55

    • wow you hit the nail on the head with the last line, recent phd!! That’s exactly it. Though you are also right in that these people are trying to make conversation and this is all they can think of to say. Probably because what you are doing is very fucking confusing to them too. But that doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it!


      February 27, 2013 at 13:43

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