Life Definitions…of a Graduate Student

Due to the crazy insanity of my “break”, blog posts have unfortunately been moved down on the priority list. So, for my enjoyment and hopefully for yours, I’d like to define some of what life is like for a grad student. This is sort of the structure I’m following with my thesis in a way: a definition followed by an explanation and analysis. No, this is not in alphabetical order either…


Graduate Student:

n., adj. of the human species; generally can be found stuck in front of, on top of, surrounded by piles of books and staring at a computer screen in a library study carrel or department cubicle near you; also known as the “paper spitting machine” conveying the meaning of processing information given by professors in order to produce papers and research to prove attainment of new skills and understanding. More exhaustive definition of lifestyle of this creature to be defined below.

Graduate School:

n. residence of graduate student (see above); where one goes after surviving undergrad; a place of toil and growth where one lives out the calling of being a nerd (see passionately obsessive definition).; necessary for the attainment of post-bachelor degrees.

Graduate School Survivor:

n. one who has survived graduate school in one fashion or another; other terms of identity include professor, advisor, department chair, etc.

Graduate Seminar:

n. a unit of study devoted to one particular topic generally in the setting of classroom where a survivor of graduate school talks and guides the development of the minds of tomorrow’s intellectuals; a seminar requires reading, paper writing, and research by force; teaches students how to research and produce scholarly work in a timely fashion *cough*


n. substance known as “life juju” in the sense of being necessary for the continuance of life of a graduate student. Considered necessary for the ability of writing papers and teaching classes in the midst of chaos; beware graduate students who have run out of this substance or who are in the midst of obtaining it.ย 


n.,adj. synonymous with Graduate school and Graduate Student. Best known cure is breathing, coffee, and the completion of assignments. Also known as the driver of most graduate students during the Last Minute (definition below).


n. substance used to buy coffee…and textbooks…

Obsessively Passionate:

adj. Why a graduate stays in graduate school; also commonly referred to by the noun “nerd”.


n. has nothing to do with golf. The first level of attainment in graduate school; Point where a person must decide to continue on in intellectual heaven or go get a job. Typically involves writing a thesis (see below).


n. mother of all research papers at the Masters level in which one academically proves a point or points about something found to be interesting enough to research over several months. Not for the faint of heart; Steals joy, time, sleep, and sanity for up to six months. No cure found other than the bleeding of all research out of a student onto a printing press to then be critiqued by survivors of graduate school in a session known as a “defense” (see below).


n. of or relating to the grilling of a graduate student who has attempted to write a thesis or dissertation; generally done over an amount of time deemed necessary by the thesis committee inquisition.


n.,v. Unknown concept. A grad student found performing this action, is typically doing so unintentionally. Sleep only occurs when a grad student decides that closing his or her eyes for moment will help in figuring out an analysis. If grad student is found coming out of this action, give coffee to student immediately.


n. substance of little specificity that is consumed on the run to maintain energy to drink coffee,attend graduate seminars, and write the thesis (see above). Proven to be more effective if of no or little cost to student.


n. unknown definition. Ask an undergrad.

Block Quote:

n. chunk of a citation used to help an argument…in theory. Sometimes used to fill in space when more pages are needed in a research paper. See Thesis…

Books (textbooks): objects found in close proximity to graduate student; objects of great cost to student (cost taken from food budget) typically required by survivors of graduate school who teach graduate seminars (see above).


n. What a graduate student is always in need of or is running out of. Also see Last Minute.

Last Minute:

n. the most productive time in a graduate student’s career. More pages and ideas are known to come out of the last minute than any other time in the life of a graduate student.


Yes, this is a brief dictionary of what graduate school is like. But, why? Why do we do it? Well, it’s like I frequently tell people who ask, I do it because I love it, and I think that’s why some of my colleagues are doing it too. If I didn’t love it, there are numerous other ways I could be spending my time rather than toiling to produce the second chapter of my thesis.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what we decide to do with the time we’re given in life. I can choose to hate my life or I can choose to love it. I can choose to complain about every little stress, or I can find a way to get through the difficult, challenging times and come out stronger for it. Sometimes life even beyond graduate school isn’t about having the perfect thing to say or knowing what decision to make. It’s about holding on and praying and trusting that God will get you through every last minute, every stressful situation, every graduate seminar, and yes, even a thesis defense!

If you can think of any other words to be defined, please be sure to suggest them. ๐Ÿ™‚


2 responses to “Life Definitions…of a Graduate Student

  1. Ah…a perfect primer for grad students…especially the coffee. People ask me how I type 60+ words a minute using two fingers. My answer…grad school. Have an awesome weekend!

    • Thanks for the comment! Yes, there is a reason I have a small coffee maker in my cubicle. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I never would have thought I could produce around 40 pages of final papers in French over the course of just about 6 days. And, I lost count of how many cups of coffee I drank during that period of time. It’s an experience for sure!

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