Taking Charge of Your Academic Future

Going Rogue | The Chronicle of Higher Education: At some point, all graduate students must go rogue. By that, I mean I had to figure out how to make decisions about my research and writing without relying on my advisers for direction. I do not mean that I refused to seek them out when I got stuck, or that I ignored their advice when they offered it.
. . .
By going rogue, I also mean that I had to forge ahead on my own without waiting to hear back from them, since they were not always easy to reach. I had to choose which sources to look at, when to start writing, and when to begin asking other people to read the words I put on paper.

Graduate school is meant to prepare you for a future in academia, but at some point we all have to take the reins ourselves and take charge. Graduate school is a multi-year haven during which we can learn to be scholars in our own right, in which we can transfer from student to colleague.

My graduate education is mine and I’ll only get out of it what I put into it, so it’s my responsibility to put in the time, the hard work, the hours reading primary and secondary sources, and the effort submitting my work to conferences and journals. This article was a good reminder of that.

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3 thoughts on “Taking Charge of Your Academic Future

  1. I find that taking charge of one’s academic future is literally impossible. “Why is he so negative?” you say. Well, one cannot walk up to a school and say, “really, I promise, I’m smart… let me in!” Therefore, to have an academic future, one is solely dependent on the mercy, opinion, and general mood that day of others. It’s sort of a screwed up system… the ultimate old boy network… and I say that not because I dislike academia (I love it), but because you pretty much have to know some one or be lucky enough to just be known. I suppose for those allowed admission your words and that article are fantastic, but no, you can’t REALLY take charge.
    I’ll go back to the kids’ table now.

    1. You’re precisely right, Court. Just because I’m now on the “inside” doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how “rigged” the system is, I’m just trying to use it to my advantage now. There is always the option of being an “independent scholar,” but of course that takes means and being independently wealthy, a luxury most of us do not have.

      1. Oh I never said you had forgotten. I remember what you went through, that was aimed at the system and my frustrations therewith. Not you.

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