What is the hardest part about being a PhD student?

July 9, 2016


The hardest part of being a PhD student is acknowledging and accept the reality of what this means.


1. You might lose relationships with family and friends because they may not understand the process of attaining a PhD. You may not make it home for holidays sometimes. You may not be able to go out with friends as much who do not understand the PhD process. Oh, you might break up with your significant other or even get a divorce because they do not understand the time, stress, and commitment needed to finish.


2. After being in a PhD program, you may decide it's not for you. Now the hard part is making the decision to walk away. If you begin to feel like a specific PhD is not for you, it will be important to speak to the faculty at your institution and outside of your institution, speak to some students you trust about your situation, and re-evaluate why you entered the program.
*Ask yourself, "Who am I?" (Identity) and "Why am I Here?" (Purpose).

Then ask this critical question, "What have I been Programmed to believe about myself and what I can do in life?"


3. Also, learning to trust yourself and develop the confidence that you need to finish the degree can be extremely hard. It can be hard because some do not know how to navigate the politics in graduate school. Some do not see people that look like them on campus and they question themselves. Some think that they cannot develop the skills to write or research. Some begin to discover their true self (Identity) and battle with all the nonsense they have been programmed to believe all their life.


Keys To Beating a PhD Program:

What to do?
- Develop a "No-Matter What" mindset
- Develop a "Resilient" mindset
- Develop a "Confident" mindset
- Develop a "Motivated" mindset


How you can do it? (My Humble Opinion)

Read these books (some available in audio)

-MINDSET by Carol Dweck, PhD

-The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

-Pursue Your Purpose Not Your Dreams by Joe Johnson


- Find several mentors and confidants. (Faculty in your department, outside your department, and outside your institution. Student mentors. (Graduate from your department, upper classman, and someone that came in during your year.)


- Find a student group on campus or regional/national organization to get involved with. (These groups may serve as people to express your struggles and find ways to handle them. They may also be places you find your mentors.) *Be very careful who you share information with about yourself and be careful about what you say about other classmates or faculty.


- Never say the first thing or write the first thing (email) that comes to mind when you get upset because you will get upset. If it's with faculty or students, consult with your trusted mentors on how to react or respond.


-Expect to question if you are doing the right thing by being in a PhD program. As long as you have a GREAT answer for... *Ask yourself, "Who am I?" (Identity) and "Why am I Here?" (Purpose) and you think about traditional and nontraditional ways to use your PhD... Keep pushing.

Oh yeah... You must know who you are because you will be tested by faculty, students, and yourself (The mind is powerful).


- Be Resourceful. Know where to get the help you need. Counseling Center, Writing, Research, Working Out, Social Spots, People, Etc.


A PhD does not always go to the smartest. It goes to the resilient, driven, goal seeking individual that can navigate systems and politics while being internally upset but externally smiling!


Remember to Pursue Your Purpose Not Your Dreams!


Joe Johnson

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July 9, 2016

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