The summer holidays is a much-needed and welcoming break for many graduate students coming off a hectic school year — especially for those committed to working away at their thesis instead of enjoying their time off.
But one of the more difficult tasks for these grad students is trying to keep motivated.
Douglas Peers, Dean of Graduate Studies at York University, explains that part of keeping focused depends upon the nature of work you’re doing.
If students are working on a lab or doing research, they should have many challenges because they’re going to be surrounded by people, working with people and staying in contact with supervisors.
“This probably points towards the other group and sort of speaks to my own experience where you’re working on a thesis, you’re passed the research stage, you don’t have to be around a bunch of people and that’s where the tyranny of isolation can kick in,” says Peers.
“I do remember, sort of sitting there wondering ‘does anybody really care about the 1825 Rupee Crisis but myself?,’ even my parents didn’t care.”
The first piece of advice the dean offers these graduate students is to take some time to decompress, and that means not pushing yourself to the limits.
Take a few days off to alleviate the stress of the heavy workload you’ve been carrying around throughout the school year so you don’t burn out.
“I think they need to chill out a little bit, either in the beginning of the summer or the end of the summer,” he says. “The most important thing though to sustain — and especially if they’re in the writing stage — is to just find ways to remain engaged not only with their work but with other people working in like-minded areas.”
Peers encourages students to watch what’s happening on their campus or nearby campuses very carefully, looking for speakers or events. Taking part in things like seminars is a great way to help keep focused.
Also, don’t be shy about bugging your supervisor. Though this is a time of year when supervisors are also trying to get on with their research, keeping in touch with them can be beneficial because they could perhaps anticipate some problems you might face.
“Part of it is also not feeling guilty about having to relieve stress, recognizing you’re human, that you’re allowed to enjoy things,” adds Peers. “I think guilty pleasures are certainly to be indulged ... I believe in the Oscar Wilde statement: ‘everything in moderation, including moderation.’”
The summer holidays is a much-needed and welcoming break for manygraduate students coming off a hectic school year — especially forthose committed to working away at their thesis instead of enjoyingtheir time off.