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First year thoughts (and other ramblings)

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Alright so for my 1000th post, I thought that I would post something really good (other than the normal crap I submit). I was thinking about my time here as a lurker, then a newbee, now a distinguished member of the senior members and one day an actual professor. Rather than going into extremely boring details about how this site really helped me to achieve my goals (which it did), I thought that I would just give all of you future students some rambling thoughts of my first year. Of course we each come to the program with different goals and expectations, experiences and ideas, so, as always, your mileage may vary.

Coming into the program last fall was like a dream come true. I truly canít describe how excited I was to finally get started with school. I had been thinking/planning this for 3 years (more if you considered the extremely brief time in my sophomore year of undergrad where I thought about getting a PhD in Business). I came in during the summer to meet with my adviser and we had a research project started by the first week of classes.

OK classes, let me talk about that for a while. When I got accepted into the program I knew that classes would be an integral part of my experience, but I didnít really think about them past the point of, ďYeah, Iíll take some classes.Ē Or ďThe program probably has a list of classes Iíll need to take.Ē So I didnít think anything about it. Then one day in July, as I was spending time with friends in a cabin, in the middle of nowhere, with no internet connection, I took my phone to a coffee shop and saw that I had an email informing me that I should have signed up for classes already and that all of the psych courses I wanted to take were filled. So that happened. One piece of advice for accepted students, know when you are supposed to sign up for classes and do it. It all worked out eventually, and I was able to beg my way into the courses I needed.

The big question that we get, and I plan to do a more intensive post about this eventually, is about time management. Let me tell you a little something that I promise you will not make sense in your heads until you are in the program: there is literally not enough hours in the day to get everything you need to get done, done. However, things will get done, and youíll have time to catch a few movies and TV shows a week (or do whatever you do for fun). Youíll never be so busy and stressed out in your life, guaranteed, and you also wonít understand what that sentence means until you are in the program. Iím not going to say anything other than that right now. Youíll learn soon enough.

Everything about the program is rewarding. Feeling like a colleague, albeit a very junior colleague, with people whose papers Iíve read and admired, is amazing. I wake up every day, not eager to go into work, but thatís just who I am. When Iím at my desk, though, it feels right, more right than any other job Iíve held in the past (save, possibly for those three years I worked as a chef). That being said, not everything is puppy dogs and roses (Is that a phrase? I feel like thatís a phrase.).

I canít speak for everyone on the board, but a lot of students I know (myself included) at some point or another, will question, in a time of depression, whether or not this is the right choice for you. It happens. From what I hear, this is perfectly normal. That being said, retention rates are generally around 50%. If this is not absolutely positively where you want to be, get out before you end up hating your life. For the rest of you, you just have to remind yourself of the good and not let the bad get you too down. Part of this is why in a lot of my posts I encourage you guys to celebrate the little things. I promise you that doing this will make your life a million times better. There is a bunch of stuff in this world and this life youíve chosen to get you down, take enjoyment when you can.

Along those lines, grow a tough skin. Itís 100% necessary. To get to this point youíve probably always been one of, if not the, best. Those days are gone. Sure you may be the best in certain things, but there will always be someone else who is better at other things. Accept this. Also remember that everyone else is just like you. Literally everyone else. No matter how together people seem, they are the same stressed out piece of work that you are. Take comfort in this knowledge. Donít take your grades too seriously (THEY DO NOT MATTER!). Well I mean do well enough to stay in your program, but there are better things to spend your time on than shooting for that 100% in class.

Some final thoughts on my first year. I canít really explain what it is like to someone without them having experienced a PhD program. Itís weird. Nothing else in this world is like this. Youíll understand soon enough. To those of you who are still waiting for a response, donít give up on your dream. If you donít get in this year, reapply. Nothing in this world is as worth doing as this is. To those of you who have been accepted, congratulations. Thatís huge. To everyone still applying (future people), good luck! I hope that my posts have been helpful and will continue to be helpful. I wouldnít say that Iím your average business PhD applicant, but none of us really are average. If you ever have any questions please feel free to ask away. I also quickly want to thank all of you for providing me with support and insights. The advice you all give is truly invaluable.
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