Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Grad Students and Holidays

Today is Christmas Eve, which means most grad students are home with family and enjoying/suffering through "quality time." Some were too broke to go home- read me :-(  and are sitting 2000 miles away from family and facing the first holiday alone EVER.

GradHacker had some great posts the last couple of weeks about what to get grad students. I have a couple of my own tips. I'm more a fan of getting students/people items that show you KNOW them versus the more impersonal gift of cash.

  • Grad students eat poorly. Most of us can rarely afford to go out to eat or eat anything other than the cheapest shit from the grocery store. Google Map your grad student's neighborhood and identify restaurants in the area and call and see about gift cards you can send your grad student.
  • Again with the food- eating right is hard. So Harry and David gifts of fruit delivery are also a great gift.
  • My aunt and uncle gave me an Amazon gift card (that with spring semester books was gone in the blink of an eye).
  • One of my other uncles asked me what my top books were that I needed. I gave him a list of three that included two #DevilDiss books and one for my Revising Milton book.
  • If your grad student is a PhD student, or otherwise approaching the job market consider pooling resources as a family to get them a gift certificate to someplace where they can get a good suit. Most of us can't afford this on our own, and all of us will need it for interviews.
  • Likewise, a nice looking (read- adult) bag/briefcase. I bought myself one as a reward for getting into my PhD program and it's the difference between student and adult.
  • Sounds silly but office supplies are always helpful. But beware your grad student may be picky about the color/size/brand of their office supplies so unless you know these details a gift card to an office supply store may be a better bet.
  •  Gas cards are also a great gift- they help with commutes and coming home.
  • Grocery store cards are good too.
Other things you can do to help students over the holiday are to not pressure them. Grad school is hard, the job market is worse. Amanda Ann Klein has a great set of posts about what the job market is like. If your grad student is on the market, be kind.

Ask them how they are. Ask them what they're working on. Ask them if they're making friends and have a support system. Show you care. But don't pressure them on publishing, or progress. Trust me- we're getting that from other places and could use a break.


The bottom line is that grad school is lonely. A lot of us have no support system. It's easy to feel as though you're all on your own. Showing you care can mean the world.
So enjoy your holidays, hug your loved ones, and be kind.

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