How to Be a Good Graduate Student by Marie desJardins
This article originated with a discussion I had with several women
professors about the problems women face in graduate school, and how
more women could be encouraged to go to graduate school in computer
science. Eventually, the conversation turned to the question of what
these women could do in their interactions with women students to
support and encourage them. I volunteered that over the course of my
graduate career I had collected a variety of papers and e-mail
discussions about how to be a good advisor, how to get through
graduate school, and issues facing women. They were eager to get this
material, and I told them I would sort through it when I got a chance.
After mentioning this project to a number of people, both graduate
students and faculty -- all of whom expressed an interest in anything
I could give them -- I realized two things: first, the issues that we
were talking about really were not just women's issues but were of
interest to all graduate students, and to all caring advisors.
Second, in order to disseminate the information I had collected (and
was starting to collect from others) it seemed to make more sense to
compile a bibliography, and write a paper that would summarize the
most useful advice and suggestions I had collected.
I solicited inputs from friends and colleagues via mailing lists and
Internet bulletin boards, and collected almost an overwhelming amount
of information. Sorting through it and attempting to distill the
collective wisdom of dozens of articles and hundreds of e-mail
messages has not been an easy task, but I hope that the results
provide a useful resource for graduate students and advisors alike.
The advice I give here is directed towards Ph.D. students in computer science and their advisors, since that is my background, but I believe that much of it applies to graduate students in graduate certificate programs in other areas as well."
In my experience, the two main things that make graduate school hard
are the unstructured nature of the process, and the lack of
information about what you should spend your time on. I hope that
this article will provide information for both graduate students and
advisors that will help make the process less painful.
I owe a debt of gratitude to David Chapman, whose paper
was an invaluable reference for me not only during the writing of this
article, but during graduate school as well.
The goals of this article are to raise awareness of the need for a
healthy and interactive graduate student-advisor relationship, to
provide pointers and guidance for both advisors and graduate students
in navigating the maze of a doctoral degree, and to give references
and resources for those who hope to learn more.