at least 2 strikes

Michelle McNair mymcnair at UCDAVIS.EDU
Tue Nov 7 19:59:43 EST 1995

On Tue, 7 Nov 1995, Mickie Noble wrote:

> In article <47b94h$pou at>, mcl7821 at says...
> >
> >  Over age 40, female, and my first semester of my Ph.D. program.  The 
> >number of questions and lack of understanding (on my part) is formidable. 
> > Would anyone care to discuss, i.e. general advice, or is this a muddle 
> >through as best you can situation.
> >
> >Martha Lanclos <mcl7821 at
> >
> Hi Martha;
> No, this is not just a muddle through situation. Try to start reading the 
> literature surrounding your thesis topic. If you're not sure where to begin, 
> try journals that specialize in review articles to get a feel for your areas of 
> interest. Your supervisor and any one who has been supervised by this person 
> (your lab mates) should also be able to help with suggestions, but don't 
> forget to get the papers that have recently been published by your lab. Good 
> luck.
> Mickie

This is incredibly good advice.  I came into a Ph.D. program at age 30, 
and with kids and a break from school it can be really intimidating and 
disorienting.  Doing a literature search, and TRYING to ready the current 
papers that are out on your topic is the best way to augment your 
coursework and a way to just make you feel like you're in touch with 
what's going on.  Even if you don't really have a project or a specific 
area of interest yet, look SOMETHING up that's associated with your area 
of study.  Making friends with the library is something that you can do 
on your own, and will give you really intelligent questions to ask your 

Also, if anyone (such as your major professor) tells you that you just 
need to muddle through it, or that you'll pick it up as you go along, 
don't listen!  You'll have to take an active, aggressive approach to 
learning to really get a handle on it (I spent my first two years hoping 
stuff would sink in . . . it didn't).  

Best wishes!

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