Book Review: Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision To Go To Grad School

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So, you want to go to grad school? Keep reading.

OK, so you liked doing your undergrad.

You liked what you studied, you liked the social atmosphere of your school and you’re thinking about going to grad school.

If you are thinking about going to grad school, this book is an excellent read:  it covers a lot of things you should consider if you are going to spend the next year or couple of years doing graduate work.

Maybe you want to go to college for the rest of your life, sip Banker’s Club and drink Miller Lite.

Graduate school is not the same as an undergrad.  If it were, it wouldn’t be called grad school (thank you, Captain Obvious).

After finishing his PhD in molecular biology, Adam Ruben wrote a book titled, Surviving Your Stupid Stupid Decision to go to Grad School.   His goal in writing the book is to warn students considering applying for their MA or PhD, as well as to be a form of a support for those who have already embarked on what he implies is a long, incredibly challenging and frustrating, journey.

Ruben says the “… book is for readers considering or already committed to spending the best years of their lives without sunlight.  You’ll learn which department events have the best free food, what pranks to pull on hot-but-vapid undergrads … and why your friends who opted to take nondescript nine-to-five jobs after college were actually the smart ones”.

The countless hours spent researching while completing graduate degrees can probably cause insanity if it isn’t thwarted properly.  Maybe that old adage “laughter is the best medicine” is something graduate students learn as a survival technique.

Regardless of whether or not all grad students are funny (especially unlikely, seeing some of the ones I’ve encountered), it seems to hold true for Ruben: he is a stand-up comic as well as a PhD grad.

The book is divided into seven chapters:

  1. Stop?  Drop? Enroll?: Deciding Whether to Ruin Your Life
  2. Selecting a Graduate Program: Where, When, How, and Why, God, Why?
  3. Grad Student Life: You Weren’t Going to Do Much with your Twenties Anyway
  4. Research and Destroy: Making Data Pretty
  5. Undergraduates and You: The Hand That Robs the Cradle
  6. Six Degrees of Exasperation:  Law School, Business School, Medical School and More
  7. Let My Pupil Go: Getting the Fuck Out of Grad School

Each of those chapters are full of sarcasm and wit, all of which hints at Ruben’s apparently not-so-fun times spent completing his PhD. For example, as part of a larger quiz in the book, Ruben asks the question:  If you were an animal, what would you be?

  • a) a tiger
  • b) a bear
  • c) a tiger or a bear who is in grad school

He says if you pick c), you’re likely to go on to grad school.

He also points out where grad students belong in the university pyramid (at the bottom, even below tenured chickens), and reminds the reader that squirrels are plentiful on university campuses, and are a good source of protein.

If you are thinking about going to grad school, this book is an excellent read:  it covers a lot of things you should consider if you are going to spend the next year or couple of years doing graduate work.  And it’s hilarious, too.

So, you want to go to grad school? Click here to read more.

Image Credit: Book Illustration
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