grad connections

Denni Schnapp ds4 at
Fri Apr 7 06:29:04 EST 1995

On April 2nd M.J. Nather wrote:
> Unfortunatly things are not as simple as you seem to belive, that there
> are two types of students; either those who love what they are doing and
> those which don't seem to care at all. There is also the group of people
> who were very enthusiastic in the beginning and who love the field but
> have become unhappy and frustrated along the way. This is a very common
> situation at my department (Limnology). I "knew" long before I started
> that I really wanted to go into research, and that I loved my field
> (limnology). However, after two years of unsuccessful research, an advisor
> who doesn't care, thesis projects which don't work (I've started on my
> third by now), a department which seems more like a museum than a research
> laboratory, I've become a "not so passionate" graduate student. 
I second that. Though I love my field and cannot imagine to do anything other
than research, I have been very frustrated during the first two years of my
PhD because few results were forthcoming. I now realise that my initial
enthusiasm was the result of exaggerated expectations (I wanted papers
published right away!) and quickly got translated into frustration. Both emo-
tions were a consequence of taking my work too personally and I had to become
more detached from it both for my sake and the sake of my colleagues and 
friends. (This does not mean that I will not hit cloud nine if I finally get
somewhere -excellent excuse for a big party!). An important part of PhD trainingseems to be an adjustment to the reality of research as opposed to our
expectations after reading textbooks or "big" papers in Nature etc.during our 
undergraduate training. Unfortunately, as a result many will see their initial
enthusiasm quenched.

Hang in there, Mary. I hope things will look up and it is important to remember
that you are not alone.

Good luck!

Denni (ds4 at

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