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(Tips from a Graduate Student Survival Guide)

My undergraduate Microbiology professor recently sent me a Science article entitled “A grad school survival guide.” The author, University of Colorado post-doc Andrew Gaudet, created a practical tutorial to help students navigate through the wonderful, hectic, challenging, and even tedious world of the graduate school. My favorite tip: “Start with the task you are least excited about, and do it right away.”

I don’t like to think of myself as a procrastinator; I make lists of things that need to get done; I set (mostly!) reasonable deadlines; I even keep a detailed calendar. But I struggle with starting the tasks. If I need to write a report, I first check my e-mail accounts, Facebook, weather station, and read a NY Times article (I need to stay up-to-date with my world, right?!). And before stopping by the lab, I obviously need to make a sandwich and check my laptop (see above). Now preparation is essential, but when preparation becomes procrastination any momentum grinds to a halt. Gaudet suggests tackling short-term tasks early in the morning, before checking e-mail or any procrastination-enforcing habit. Although I still check my e-mail fairly early, I’ve limited web-surfing until I’ve accomplished some of my daily tasks. And this new approach works for me! As Gaudet concludes, “Along the route to a Ph.D., rough seas can be navigated or avoided entirely. It takes many small successes, achieved day by day, to reach your long-term goals. So stay focused.”

Thanks for the good advice Andrew! And best luck in your research at UC!

Sources + Additional Information:

(Thanks for sharing RZ!)

By KCBauer

Hello! My name is KCBauer and I am a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. I am a researcher, writer, musician, and explorer. Originally from Washington DC, I graduated with a BA in Music and BS in Biology in 2014. This blog focuses on the gut microbiota, the trillions of microorganisms that reside along the digestive tract. My grad research at UBC examines the role of the gut microbiota on human health, brain development, and anthropology. When I am not in the lab, I enjoy ambling through Vancity, listening to music, reading science journals, and hiking. If you have questions, ideas for blog topics, suggestions for place to visit in BC, or corrections send me an email at

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