Penn State Ecology Graduate Student Organization

Getting Through


School is Not Your Life (at least not all of it) and here are some rules to live by:

Rule #1 – Make friends. Have fun.

You’ll meet people through Ecology program events, courses, in-lab interactions, and Grad School mixers (you’ll be sent an e-mail) among other things. Also, try PSU Student Affairs Services for activities outside the realm of Ecology. To meet non-students, investigate some of the local environmental groups. Friendship is an important part of graduate school – your friends will help you through the good times as well as the bad.

Rule #2 – Know that you’re not alone in what you’re feeling

Graduate students love to commiserate, you’ll find a plethora of advise and other students’ stories on the web.

· Graduate Student Resources on the Web is a page full of links to information pertinent to graduate students.

· How to be a Good Graduate Studentis full of advice written by, but not limited to computer scientists.

· The web site for the Association for Support of Graduate Students contains some helpful information.

· More coming soon!

Rule #3 – Be confident

Don't believe that you don't have what it takes. Ronald Azuma says:


"You got into graduate school because you have already shown to your professors that you have potential and skills that are not typical among most college students, let alone most people -- don't forget that."

Rule #4 – Find a hobby

Preferably one that is not all-consuming. Periodically getting away from your thesis can be stimulating and rejuvenating. Ronald Azuma traveled, exercised, and kept nerf basketballs in his office.

Rule #5 – Exercise

Study after study has suggested that the time you spend exercising will make up for itself in increased productivity and a generally improved sense of well-being. While blissful field seasons keep many ecologists fit, you will want to find something to do in the off-season and, especially, during the stressful period of writing your thesis. If you know you won’t do it alone, find some friends to exercise with you, take a Physical Education course, join PSU club sports, get on an intramural team for a sport you enjoy, join a class (either through Penn State Recreation Sports Fitness or look at the Centre County Dept of Parks and Recreation community schedule), or find something else to motivate you.

Rule #6 – Eat well

Your mother has been telling you this for years. During the growing season, go to one of the local farmers’ markets. Join a Community Supported Agriculture venture (CSA). Common Ground Farms, Tait Farm, and Full Circle Farms are only a few of the available CSAs in Centre County. Make dinner for some friends, take a cooking course, get yourself a garden plot. There are all sorts of fun ways to make good eating pleasant; the important thing is not to succumb to the siren song of coffee, pizza and beer, at least not exclusively.

Rule #7 – Get help

If it feels like it’s too much, get professional help. Stress and depression are all too common in graduate school. As a graduate student, you can receive free counseling through Ritenour Health Clinic. If you are in doubt about whether to seek counseling, their website contains a link to a depression screening test which may help you decide. Remember, there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Graduate school can be difficult, discouraging, and depressing, and over more, isolating; professional counseling may help.