roasting marshmellows in phd hell

How to Finish Your Phd With an Absentee-Landlord Adviser

with 2 comments

After a few months where I’ve felt like cashing out my chuck e cheese tokens and taking a shitty neon bracelet instead of a phd, things are finally getting better.  And there is one specific reason:


My thesis: now with 100% more St. Olaf anecdotes.

My thesis: now with 100% more St. Olaf anecdotes.

Specifically, friends in academia who have finished their own degrees and, seeing my own adviser-less situation, have generously offered to read my stuff and help me out.  I resisted for MONTHS, because if reading my old entries have taught me anything, it’s that I’m stubborn and don’t always have the best decision making skills.  If I was a cartoon animal, I’d be the coyote who repeatedly runs into the side of the mountain, even though bashing my face the first time should have been a clue that the tunnel was painted on.

I was afraid to send stuff to these well-meaning friends because they are smarter than me and better writers.  Sounds perfect, right?  Who else would you want to critique your academic bullshit?  And even though these people are truly good friends and have never been judgmental in any other respect, I was convinced that they would think I was a complete moron and wonder how the hell I got into grad school in the first place.

But yeah.  My sense of despair eventually overcame my vanity.  And I only wish I’d gotten over myself sooner, because the feedback I’ve gotten (even though they have no particular expertise in my specific odd corner of academia) has been more thoughtful and considered than anything I’ve seen from my adviser in years.

Now my thesis is in better shape than ever.  And all my adviser had to do was sit at the base of some tropical volcano and sip an alcoholic beverage out of a coconut.

So if you are toiling alone in the salt mines and you’re lucky enough to have met some genuine people in grad school, let them help you.  You can pay it forward once you’re out in the beautiful fresh clean air.


Written by universityoflies

August 13, 2013 at 14:30

2 Responses

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  1. I was just linked to this site by a friend…. the friend who basically was my surrrogate advisor. I feel like I could have written half of these entries, at least, only I don’t like string cheese :p

    Anyway – I finally finished,despite some friendly “benign” neglect from an advisor who didn’t want to see my stuff *until it was finished*, so… it can be done! Good luck!

    Dr. Lan

    August 20, 2013 at 19:15

    • thanks for visiting, Dr. Lan, and congratulations on earning your phd!!

      Stories like yours give me hope. Thank you.


      August 22, 2013 at 15:52

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