at least 2 strikes

Robin Panza panzar at
Mon Nov 6 05:08:35 EST 1995

>>   Martha Lanclos <mcl7821 at> writes:
>>    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

My first year in grad school was quite traumatic.  I spent a great deal of time
wondering if I was cut out for grad school, whether it was what I really
wanted, etc.--a lot of soul-searching.  There were all sorts of problems, from
unresponsive professors to the difficulty of filling in gaps in my knowledge,
to funding difficulties, to administrative hassles.  The second year, it was 
so much better, it was as if it was a different program (or I was a different 

I have seen this phenomenon in _many_ new grad students, and have dubbed it
"first-year grad blues".  Each time I hear a new student considering dropping
out, I emphatically urge them to stick it out into the second year, promising
them that the second year will be much better.  Every one of the people who do
sticks it out comes back to me with amazement at how right I was.  Most of them
didn't really believe me, and then had trouble believing how much better it
really was.

I've never understood the reason for this phenomenon, but I say to you, hunker
down and plod through that first year.  Don't consider dropping out until
you've experienced the second year.  

Best of luck to you,
Robin				panzar at

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