Sisyphus made a funny: since ’tis the season that the back-to-school supplies lists are being mailed out to parents of elementary schoolers, why not offer up some helpful hints on supplies and tools one might need in order to be a successful grad student? Her list is as follows:
- Bourbon (at least three bottles per quarter)
- No-Doze and Redbull
- Flash drive
- Box of tissues
- Portable stapler (because none of your students will ever think to bring their own or to staple their own essays, ever. Ed. note: hang onto this, because students who submit papers to tenured professors still haven’t figured this out.)
- Uncrushable sense of purpose
Her commenters had other great suggestions–some humorous, but most very practical. Some of my favorite serious suggestions include: Trail Mix/Power Bars, coffee,a good thermos or non-spill coffee mug, a water bottle, and post-it notes. I might also add a bottle of hand sanitizer this year, because of the Swine Flu, and a flu shot if you can get it, especially if you’re a T.A. and are coming into contact with 60-100 undergraduates per semester (and God knows where they’ve been, or how recently they’ve washed.) Nothing is more teh suck than moving to a new city, being scared constantly that you’re the admissions committee mistake, not knowing what you’re doing really until March in your second semester, and on top of that getting the flu when you don’t have family or friends close by. Remember the Girl Scout motto: “Be Prepared.”
I was surprised that no one suggested a flash drive–whereas it seems like our grad students always have them on lanyards around their necks and don’t bring their computers to campus. I was also surprised to see the recommendation for 3 bottles of bourbon per quarter, even (presumably?) in jest! Can grad students afford to drink like that? I used to buy a 6-pack of beer per week, and that was a huge splurge. But then, in my first year in grad school, my stipend was $7,200 for the entire year (1990-91). And I lived on that, folks, and even took a few (domestic) plane trips, too. But you tell kids that these days, and they won’t believe you! I did in fact walk to school, but it wasn’t uphill both ways, and only rarely in the snow, so a sturdy and comfortable backpack or book bag might be key.
What advice do you current or recently graduated postgraduate students, or faculty silverbacks, have for incoming graduate students?