Beginning Well: Advice for New Grad Students

Start here:

by Monica Greenwood
"But oh, New Graduate Student, don’t give up. I wish I could look you in the eyes so you could see the exhaustion that still hasn’t left my face even though we’ve just had months out of school. I’m always tired. But I am no longer unhappy. I am no longer burdened by my crazy degree or the expectations of my faculty or my colleagues. I have won the fight with the expectations and the feelings of poverty and restlessness that seemed destined to crush me. Jesus did it all."

 

Now, from The Well:
 

by Anna Plantinga
"Is academia a frivolous waste of time when we could be telling people about Jesus, or is there a deeper significance to a life of learning? And if learning is worthwhile on an eternal scale, are some questions more worthy than others?" Anna Plantinga reflects on these important questions.

By Grace and Faith: Resisting the Academic Meritocracy
by Debra Sulai
"Christianity says that not only do we not have to go it alone, we can’t possibly do so, nor should we. It flatly contradicts the academy’s founding myth of the direct relationship between success and individual merit." Debra Sulai explores the spiritually damaging nature of self-reliance in academia.
 
by Chandra Crane
"There’s more to life than this — but also, what you are doing here matters." Chandra Crane offers encouragement and perspective to those whose vocation right now includes intensive study.
 
by Jayme Yeo
“I learned over the course of that first year that graduate school offers a lot of opportunities and obstacles for spiritual, personal, and professional growth...and so I’d like to offer a few thoughts for anyone entering graduate school for the first time (or those of you who, like me, still need an occasional reminder that you’re not in it alone).”
 
by Jayme Yeo
"As a graduate student, I often find myself acting as though God simply does not belong in my work. Talking with Christian friends in other disciplines, I realize that I am not the only one facing the problem of integrating work and faith in an academic environment." 
 

Dear Mentor: How does one live well as a graduate student?
How does one live well as a graduate student? What advice do you have for those of us just beginning? What helped you to survive and thrive in your program?

Dear Mentor: Can I grow spiritually and also have fun during the stress of grad school?
Is it possible to be a thriving, growing person in graduate school?

Dear Mentor: Succeeding in Grad School
What are the keys to success in graduate school?

Are there unique ways for a Christ-follower to deal with stress in the academy?
 
by Bob Trube
"The practice of attentiveness not only makes us more aware of the presence of the Lord throughout our day. Prayerful attentiveness can also be a critical element in our scholarship. Many times over the years, we’ve seen the Lord illuminate thorny research problems as we’ve prayed for his insight into his created order."
 
by Carmen Imes
Carmen Imes begins her days of scholarship and work with this prayer. 
 
by Laura Goetsch
"Our campus apartment was in a building that contained 27 other apartments arranged around a central courtyard...In this community, we shared life in the fullest way I have ever been blessed to do." Laura Goetsch reflects on the powerful community life she experienced during the crucible of grad school.
 
By Christine Jeske
As Chrissy Jeske prepared to return to graduate school after several years away, she was anxious about all that was new and unknown. Reassurance came in an unexpected way.
 
by Stephanie Magdalena White
"I’ve started taking about two minutes to answer these questions every time I sit down to work for even an hour, and I’ve been amazed at how useful they are." 
 
by Bronwyn Lea
"...when I was asked, "Do you have any advice to give young, married grad students?" I flinched a little. Those five years of early marriage in grad school were intense, and it is hard to distill the things I learned which were true of sharing-grad-school as opposed to the steep-learning-curve-called-marriage — because we did them simultaneously. However, if you'll forgive me smooshing things together, here are some of the things I'd want to whisper to those champion supporters (aka spouses) of grad students..."
 

From The Emerging Scholars Network:

by Hannah Eagleson, PhD in English
“…this series of blog posts…tries to summarize things I wish I’d known at the beginning of graduate school, or in some cases things I did know but didn’t implement very well.”
 
The Scholar’s Compass is a wonderful series of devotionals launched by ESN written by and for academics. Some of these devotionals are particularly relevant to graduate students:
 
By Bethany Bowen
Rather than abstracting what we might imagine a Christian graduate student to look like, we must depend on God to use our unique gifts to produce thorugh us a unique expression of God’s goodness and glory.
 
By David Williams
The piece is the first of a series on the spirituality of graduate school. 
 
By Claudette Ligons
 
The first in a series by Dr. Claudette Ligons on strength for the journey of the academic life, given at the Black Scholars and Professionals (BSAP) conference this spring. Lots of good advice relevant to any career stage, but great for grad students starting out. 
 
By Lauri Swann
“At this very moment, you may find yourself at a place where you think you have heard God ask you to walk into the unknown. But because the request seems beyond your capabilities, you vacillate between thinking and going. You begin to question the validity of God’s call for you…"
 
by Beth Madison
"That got me to thinking—what if I had it to do again? Would I change anything or not? And if so, why? I realized there were some very important things I would’ve changed about my time in graduate school and as a young professor..."
 
by Bob Trube
“How does one live well as a Christian graduate student? Bob Trube, GFM campus staff, has stewed over that question with members of the InterVarsity grad fellowship at Ohio State. Here are their recommendations of seven habits that should be incorporated into the life of every Christian grad student.”
 
by Nicholas Wolterstorff
“What advice can I give to you whose sights are set on becoming Christian scholars? My first piece of advice is that you get clear on what you understand by the project of being a Christian scholar.”
 
by a longtime ESN member
A recent PhD shares lessons he has learned from his grad school years, as a Christian and an academic. "By God’s help, I have recently finished my PhD and am now transitioning into a faculty position...While many of the points will already be familiar to most of you, I hope that you can derive some helpful benefit or reminder from them."
 
 
Inhabiting Transitional Time Well
by Kateri Collins
"My transition from being an undergraduate to entering graduate school was ambiguous. I simply did not know when or where I was going. Discerning my vocation was a long, but important process that took about three years that started in my junior year of undergrad."
 
by Rick Mattson
"In my travels to campuses around the country (40 in the past two years), I meet up with a lot of students who are headed to grad school someday. Here is what I wish I could suggest to each one of them: Begin with the end in mind."
 
by Michael Stell
"I realized I had to become a scholar if I was going to take seriously the vocation of an academic."
 
by John Hundley
Our vocation is the specific realm—workplace, department, milieu—into which we bring God’s kingdom.

Letter to a New Graduate Student’s Family, Part 1
"Congratulations! Your loved one is not the only one starting a new journey. You have also started grad school, and you are now working on your own program of study. You have now begun your ‘PhT': your Pushed him/her Through.” Chandra Crane writes this three-part series to the family members of new graduate students.
 

To see our curated list of articles for new faculty, head over to Beginning Well: Advice for New Faculty.

 

(Our first "Beginning Well" compilation was published in September 2011. The current version is revised and updated.)

 

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