On Grad School & Mental Health

In the not-at-all-news for anyone in grad school category, here’s a fresh take: “Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People’s Mental Health.” 

Intense work expectations? Check.

Lack of sleep and social life? Sure. But isn’t that the charm? 

Little pay? Yup. When I was making $10k a year as a graduate assistant (in 2003), my dad once said: “I know you aren’t making much money. When I was getting my Ph.D., I was only getting paid $9,000 a year!” Reality check, Dad: that was 1971. When strawberries were 29 cents a pound. (Yes, I looked it up).  

And when Ph.D. students weren’t saddled with the student loans of today.

Why wouldn’t grad students be plagued with anxiety and depression? 

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Who to turn to for Career Advice

Even though I don’t work directly in teaching or with students anymore, and my husband has left adjuncting for greener alt-ac pastures, I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking of my life in terms of semesters. So as this fall semester comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on my time in grad school at Northern Arizona University. I was pursuing a Ph.D. in history there until 2006, when I made a deliberate decision to leave academia behind.

Actually, that’s not exactly true. Even while I was in the Ph.D. program, I had already made a decision not to pursue academia. I wanted to go into either academic publishing or museums – something *other* than academia. I was all about the alt-ac before that was even a thing!

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