Are you thinking about applying to a PhD program? Are you already a doctoral student? PhD is a huge investment of time and money. So make sure you spend 15 minutes of your time reading this blog devoted to PhD program success and survival tips. I'm confident that these tips can save up to 10 years of your life, up to $1,000,000 of your money, and, most importantly, your physical and emotional health.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Power of Long-Term

Below are a few things I've learned as a result of my PhD studies. I call them "the power of long-term":

  • You don't complete your dissertation by pulling a few all nighters. Only incremental work will get it done. Not years of hard work (it will kill you), but years of a couple (a few) hours a day
  • You don't ruin your health overnight. It takes months of do a significant damage to your health. And it doesn't have to be months of heavy drinking or drug abuse. Just months of, let's say, bad sleeping habits.
  • You don't get your health back overnight. It takes months of work to get it back. Again, I'm not talking about months of hard work, just months of doing little things right.
  • You don't land a job by sending out a few resumes. It takes months of consistent search to find a job.
I think my undergraduate habits (the ones that made me so successful in my undergraduate program) played against me in my graduate program. By my senior year as an undergrad, I became so good in taking exams (yes, taking exams, not being an expert in my field) that all it took me was one day of studies to go over several textbook chapters and get an A on a multiple choice exam. I attended classes only to figure out what's going to be on an exam and not to learn the material.

But a PhD program is a marathon. Sprinters always lose in a PhD program. You shouldn't try to spring with anything in a PhD program (e.g. comprehensive exams, dissertation). Those things are done incrementally. Again, not by working intensively, but by working consistently.

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