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Showing posts from February, 2008

Advice for choosing your graduate school

My latest newsletter, "Mean and Nasty Academics," generated a lot of email and also comments in the Writing Club . Here are some comments from Writing Club members on a thread on the message board called "Advice for Prospective Graduate Students." I've edited out confusing or identifying details. I have another suggestion for potential grad students when evaluating departments. Most of the time, current grad students will not say anything negative about the people in their department for fear it will get back to the professors. I personally will give a realistic picture of everything administrative (requirements, money, office space, all of which are not the best in my program), but would NEVER EVER say which professors are bad to work with. In general, I have a nice department with friendly, helpful people, but there is one professor in particular who is a nightmare (not the one on my committee, btw!). She is just awful. Abusive is a GREAT word for her. S

Do you feel pressured by your mentors?

So many professors have told me that they feel "overly mentored" by their chair or others in their department, in their quest for tenure. Even though the mentoring may be meant in a kindly, helpful way, it can result in the mentee feeling inadequate, bullied, or even paralyzed. If you are in this situation, and giving direct feedback to the mentor is either not helping, or not advisable in your situation, then you need to work on your own point of view. You need to work on not giving too much power to the mentor, and feeling like you are the one in control; the one making decisions for yourself. Here is a great 6 minute video by Byron Katie, illustrating a cognitive-behavioral technique for convincing yourself that you have choices, even if you are being pressured. You can also see examples of the process she calls "The Work" which is a series of techniques for questioning your beliefs that keep you trapped. I haven't read anywhere else about this probl

Hazing and Bullying: One Academic's Story

In response to my newsletter article ("Mean and Nasty Academics" -- see previous post), I received some insightful replies. One of them is reprinted in full here, with permission of the author, leaving out any identifying information. About ten years ago I helped form an organization for students with disabilities at an Ivy League University . At our first meeting with graduate students, we went around and talked about our experiences and needs from the organization. There were students in professional programs and students in academic, arts and sciences programs. The students in arts and sciences, of whom I was one, uniformly told of harassment and abuse, loading on extra work, being stifled especially in bringing up ADA-related requests for accomodation. In contrast, students in professional programs told of faculty who were solicitous and kind, who sought to adapt the program to fit the student's abilities. I had experienced hazing in the first year particu

Mean and Nasty Academics: Bullying, Hazing, and Mobbing

“Tenure is supposed to protect scholars from outside control, but it does a lousy job of protecting them from one another.” -- Kenneth Westhues, quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education I don't usually post my newsletters here, but I think this is a subject that needs to get more airing. So here is the text of my latest newsletter, called "Mean and Nasty Academics." (If you'd like to sign up for my bi-weekly (sometimes less frequent) newsletter, go to this page, which also lists the bonuses you will receive. ) Another reason I'm posting this newsletter issue is that I have received some interesting replies from my newsletter readers that will help those of you struggling with these issues. I will put these replies up in later posts. Mean and Nasty Academics "I was surprised to experience hazing as a graduate student, not once, but continually and by multiple pro