Bags for grad students

Thanks to a follower who asked for a bag round-up for grad school! A grad school bag is pretty important if you ask me! It’s your daily companion so it needs to be able to lug gear and set you apart from your students. Here are my current favorite workhorse bags, updated for 2021!

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Back to school shopping: Grad student edition

One sad part about being an adult who is still in school is that I REALLY miss back to school shopping. Here is a mystery of my childhood: why did I think I needed an updated lunchbox every year? Why did my backpack, binder, and lunchbox have to match? Now, I don’t even use a lunchbox, instead I just pray that the tupperware in my backpack doesn’t explode on my way to school. But I still love new school year supplies–I just have an updated list of needs:

1) Good pens. I got a pack of Staples Opti-flow pens last year and somehow they all wandered off. I’m looking to re-up my supply (they dry INSTANTLY) but I’m also tempted to buy a set of Muji pens after reading the reviews.

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Q & A: Tech in grad school

Q: Hi Rebecca! What are your thoughts on tech for grad school (specifically tablets)? Is there anything that’s made your time in academia more efficient?

A: Hi! I don’t have a tablet but I really wish I did–I see people bring them to conference sessions, meetings, etc and they seem like a lighter, easier thing to travel with. Our dept appears split on having them or just bringing a regular laptop. 

In terms of other tech that has made my life way easier: Zotero (citation manager, get the Word plug in and YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO CITE BY HAND AGAIN) and Evernote (keeps all your notes in one app–I didn’t see the value at first but it’s far more searchable than going through all your word docs) have been my two favorite upgrades. Also, an hour tracker is a good way to keep yourself on track when you work (and to recognize that even when it feels like 60 hours of work a week it’s really not!). 

Lastly, not grad school specific: I’ve been using Cladwell to get dressed every day. It’s $40 per year (sign up on their website, not the app store), and it just makes getting ready totally brainless, in the best way possible.

I’m reblogging this to say I just bought Grammarly Premium as well–it is like spell check but way better, and says things to you like “you’ve said the word ‘communication’ a lot in this document, want to try a different one?” and “this sentence is wordy.” Seriously life changing. I had an out of body reading experience the other day while looking over some writing–I was like “wait did I really write this this well?” Thx Grammarly. 

Fun asides to leave in your thesis/dissertation:

Passive aggressive thank yous 

Inside joke acknowledgements

Jokes in footnotes

Unacknowledged puns

Saucy comments like “as much as researchers would like this to be the case..”

Random trivia in footnotes

Unnecessary appendices (songs listened to while writing, lists of weird historical events, etc)

Citations of yourself, because goals

Unnecessary citations of your academic friends 

Song lyric quotes in italics as chapter openings

What else you got? Looking to spice this document up.

Two helpful grad school advice books about the future

Hi all, taking a break from reading to say I’ve just finished these two excellent books, which have helped me wrap my head around 1) getting a job, & 2) writing a dissertation. If you have anxiety about the future (everyone in grad school?) these made me feel more in control of the big picture.

1) The Professor is In: This book hurts. Karen Kelsky is here to administer all the tough love you may not be getting from your advisor. Best advice snippets: don’t wait to be invited to do things (submit to conferences, submit to journals), you need to push yourself to put it all out there if you want a job; and try to identify 1 or 2 mentors outside of your department/elsewhere in your field, with tips on how to build relationships with them.

2) Destination Dissertation: This book is kind of the opposite of tough love. It’s more like, “hey, if you’re in the humanities/social sciences, here are 12 steps to write your dissertation, it will only take 12, we promise.” This book has calmed me down a lot about the impending dissertation. I picked it up early (I’m a second year PhD) and I’m glad I did because it was worth reading the chapter about picking a topic this early in my studies.

Alright, back to work. Happy Sunday all! Does anyone have more good grad school advice books they would recommend?