Last week, Mike of Getting Things Done In Academia had a great post that couldn’t go unmentioned on Eight reality checks for new grad students. I’ll just copy the intro and bulleted points here – please go to GTDIA for the explanations.
Graduate school is not your undergraduate education on steroids. It is a transformative journey in which you spend most of your waking moments training yourself to think and act like a scientist. Along the way you have many mentors and guides, not least of which are your fellow graduate students, the vast literature, and fussy, know-it-all blogs.
Mike goes on to talk specifically about the expectations of mentors for grad students, but these suggestions apply to every example of learning and academic acheivement – including those people outside of grad school. I of course don’t speak from experience in saying that, but even the self-taught geniuses out there follow these common-sense tools for learning and teaching oneself. They’re a case-study in intellectual advancement.
- Work hard – becoming an expert requires work, no matter how great the talent.
- Read – be well read; read constantly.
- Talk – and exchange ideas often.
- Write – proposals and reports, to every outlet that you can.
- Collaborate – no person is an island, no matter how great the talent.
- Develop a toolkit – make yourself unique.
- Set goals – and always be completing something.
- Have fun – if you’re not having fun, try something else.
A related post of mine from the archive: Habits of Mind and Scientific Literacy.