Monday, March 21, 2011

51. You are surrounded by undergraduates.

Most everyone who works in education experiences the strange phenomenon of growing older while students stay the same age. Graduate students experience an even stranger phenomenon. While still students themselves, they age in the presence of fellow students who remain 18-22 years old, year after year after year. As a graduate student, you encounter undergraduates every day on campus. It is more than likely that you have to work with them. And because you can’t afford to live anywhere else, you probably go home to a neighborhood (or even an apartment building) that is full of them. They surround you constantly. In fact, in ways that seem more distressing over time, your life is very much like theirs.

It is not much fun to live in a sea of undergraduates unless you are an undergraduate yourself. Their unavoidable presence and carefree ways are a constant reminder of your delayed adulthood (see Reason 12), even as their feeling of relief and accomplishment at the end of each term is a jarring reminder that your own work does not end with finals week (see Reason 47). You may not be much older than they are, but they can make you feel much older than they are. And then one day you discover that you are much older than they are. Perhaps most bothersome of all is their collective sense of possibility; they know (or at least live in the belief) that a world of opportunities awaits them, while you see more clearly every year that your prospects are becoming fewer and fewer (see Reason 29).



61 comments:

  1. Sorry, but this is one of the reasons life in the academy IS worthwhile for me. It lifts my spirits to work with youthful people. Undergraduates are at the peak of their physical attractiveness and, having worked elsewhere with a bunch of tired-looking people, this is much better, regardless how old I look. Maybe this reason is felt more by faculty who have not yet embraced their own declining looks. I earned these wrinkles, but I'd rather not spend all my time with people my age. I feel younger when I am not looking in a mirror.

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  2. I cleaned up on undergrad girls when in law school. This was a huge plus.

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    1. Only American feminists create the supposed ick factor. I'm over 35 and my girlfriend is 19. There's nothing wrong in that. Not for a man and not for a woman who isn't brainwashed by feminism.

      Outside the feminist US, professors have sex with their undergrad students who are over the age of consent.

      Delete
    2. Implying hot undergrads go for bummy, poor, wrinkly professors for anything else than an occasional grade. I doubt most professors can pull even that off and just give them straight A's for a wink.

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  3. I didn't really agree with this post too much (based on my experience, of course) but the first two posters basically just changed my mind. Reason confirmed.

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  4. Ha! As I read this right now, I'm waiting to start my lecture, and I am SURROUNDED by undergrads.

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  5. ugh--the sexism displayed in some of the comments on this blog is nauseating. grad students and full-fledged academics stink.

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  6. Yeah, this can definitely actually be a plus if you want to keep that large undergrad dating pool at your disposable. I think being on a campus full of people roughly your age or younger, whether you're a guy or girl, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    I know plenty of guys and girls who are/were graduates who dated undergrads and had fun playing the field still, and they'd definitely list that as a plus!

    And it's often easy to find people to relate to because if you're an English PhD student for instance, you can very easily meet TONS of people who are undergrads who like the same thing, while in the "real" world, it's not always so easy.

    I can see the logic behind this reason, but I can also see it as a positive too - it probably depends on how outgoing, etc. you are as well.

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  7. Hmm. On second thought, after looking at some of the comments here, maybe I prefer the graduate students stay away from us.

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  8. Reading these comments feels like I'm watching Dazed and Confused:

    "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age."

    Sure, if you're emotionally immature I can understand the appeal, but I wholeheartedly agree with this reason for avoiding grad school.

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  9. I completely agree. I feel frozen in time - a bigger, ever-wrinkling fish swimming in the exact same pond.

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  10. Mr. Absolutely No SarcasmMarch 21, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    OMG, I can't believe some people would actually want to stay around undergrads a few years more just to get laid!
    I mean, obviously no one in university wants to have sex, so they must just be creepy pervs who think it's fine to have casual sex right?

    If you see any of these horrible sex-enjoying men and women wandering around campus, out for a consensual good time, I advise you report them to the police at once, so there can be a public flogging and they can be made to wear special hats to signal their perversions to others.

    You'll be able to spot them easily, as they'll have the smug easy-manner of an emotionally immature sex-maniac, they'll be making comments about how they are sexually attracted to others and how they enjoy having sex, and if they are men, they will be gleefully rubbing their hands and leering over the young ladies who are only trying to protect their modesty by wearing overcoats and large pantaloons made from sackcloth as all God-fearing university girls are known to do.

    These perverts (who can be as old as *gasp* 28 or even *shudder* 30!!!) especially like girls called Eileen who spend copious amounts of time on the internet on blogs and believe they are God's gift to men everywhere, so make sure you have your chastity belt on at all times whenever a grad student is about if that is the case.

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  11. I have never, ever heard of female graduate students on my campus dating undergrads. Just the male grad students--you know, the ones who are so "concerned" about exploitation (of the "working class," third world, women? not so much.). Best to keep in mind that dating your own students probably violates your institution's sexual harassment policy. Even if your "relationship" is free of coercion on the part of the instructor/TA, it can create the perception of favoritism amongst other students. Dating other people's undergraduate students...well it's just creepy.

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  12. I love how if an older guy is dating a younger woman there has to be some sort of coercion, or emotional immaturity, or it has to be creepy. She can't just, you know, find him attractive, and he's not allowed to be sexually attracted to her because he's older.

    I've seen female grads date undergrad guys from their TA classes. Guess what people - girls like sex just as much as guys, get over it.

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  13. Yes, women love sex, and that's great. But it is against your school's sexual harassment policy to date your own undergrads, and for good reason. There is a power differential there, and other students find it intimidating as it suggests preferential treatment. It's unethical, whether the grad student/prof is a man or a woman.

    As for dating other people's undergrads...do folks who are intelligent enough to be accepted into/graduate from reputable PhD programs really need to resort to sex with teenagers? And after hearing them speak in class no less?!?

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  14. I loved hanging out with the undergrads when I was in grad school. They were fun, creative, and bright, and always knew how to have a good time. Almost all of them were drug-free and a lot were alcohol-free as well. I also ended up getting married to the (five-years-younger-than-me) undergrad guy I was dating.

    Full disclosure, I was in grad school for library science, which meant that I didn't have to TA any undergrads, plus it was only for two years. And I also look about ten years younger than I am, so unless someone asked how old I was they'd never know. When male undergrads would hit on me, I'd let them know how old I was, and instead of deterring them, it made them that much more interested.

    I had a great time in grad school! ;)

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  15. One of my classmates showed up to our high school prom with her 34 year old boyfriend. It creeped me out enough that I set very clear boundaries for myself.

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  16. "But it is against your school's sexual harassment policy to date your own undergrads"

    No it isn't

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  17. if it isn't, it should be.

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  18. "if it isn't, it should be."

    My uni believes that people have a right to date who they choose, rather than have some oppressive conservative doctrine forced upon them

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  19. I wonder if the blogger anticipated this kind of conversation in the comments. His/her point is that it's uncomfortable to be around younger people all the time. (Who hasn't felt that way before?)

    These comments, though, should put to rest any last hope that academia is some kind of noble refuge for the 'life of the mind.'

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    Replies
    1. i did not anticipate this kind of comment stream.

      in response to the other reasons, people agreed/disagreed with the reason or thought that it was not pertinent or was repetitive.

      but the responses to this revealed a lot about where people's minds were.

      Delete
  20. Undergrads usually range from 18-22 years old.
    Grad students can be as young as 22.

    A 30 years old grad with a 19 undergrad is wrong.
    Someone 22 with someone 20 is perfectly fine.

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  21. lol you grad student guys are total perverts. Its hilarious. You think you're intellectuals but you are just delaying adulthood and perving on the undergrad girls.

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  22. Wow, it's not against the law to have some fun in grad school. If everyone is over 18, everyone is open about their age, and there's no teacher/student conflict, game on!

    And if you're a grad student, the best place to meet others would be at the local bars... at least then you'd know that everyone there is at LEAST 21, which should cut down on the "ick" factor of dating younger.

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  23. The ageism and sexism in this thread are appalling. Do you really not see the problem with pronouncing - on the basis of your own feelings of ickiness - which adults can decently date which adults? You're free, of course, to be as grossed out as you want by the very thought of a 30-19 relationship, but that should be cause for self-examination.

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  24. "A 30 years old grad with a 19 undergrad is wrong."

    Maybe it is in Iran, where your laws are different, but here in the US of A, we have a little thing called "freedom"

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  25. That's right. Fight for your right to party, profs and grads. By virtue of our education, we are entitled to all the tender young flesh we can consume. I got a good one for you if you'd like an introduction--cute as a button and expressed doubt last week about whether or not Alaska was a country. What an ego boost it would be to capture her admiration!

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  26. Mr. No Sarcasm, ad hominem attacks on regular posters to this blog like Elaine are meanly childish. We can all be sarcastic and attack people over the internet, so you've accomplished only what repressed 12yr olds have long ago mastered. Congratulations. Also, have you thought that Elaine might frequent this site because she's interested in grad school and is seriously considering it? I wish I'd been more inquisitive before I leaped into humanities grad school.

    I'm at a top grad school at a large university. I'm in the English department. There are really only a few who are interested in much younger undergrad women. And when it comes down to it, many grad students are emotionally stunted and have perhaps less emotional intelligence than the average undergrad. So I'm surprised there isn't more dalliance with the younger crowd. But there really isn't, and most grad students are not ethically bankrupt in that way just because a few are. Emotional dwarves on stilts they may be, but bad people they generally are not.

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  27. Great blog by the way.

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  28. Mr. Absolutely No SarcasmMarch 24, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    @Anonymous 8:18 -

    Who you calling an ad hominem? And you're saying I'm the childish one.
    I know plenty of hominems and they are perfectly nice people, as are emotional dwarves - why pick on emotional dwarves? Just childish.
    Sure they get emotional sometimes, but maybe you would too if you were a dwarf. Think about that for a second, Anonymous 8:18.

    And you're only sticking up for Elaine because you want to get in her pants, nice way to make us grad students look real bad with your fancy talk -
    "Look at me, I'm at a top grad school at a large university... Elaine is so wonderful because she checks blogs like this and is thinking of going to grad school like me... maybe she will come back to the blog regularly and will be impressed."

    Dream on, Anonymous 8:18, dream on.

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    1. Angry Emotionally Unstable DrawfMay 4, 2012 at 1:37 AM

      Hey, I'm dwarf and I resent these comments in a passionately emotional manner! I also have no intention of getting into Elaine's pants - although it would probably be a lot easier for me to do so (from a simple physics perspective).

      Delete
  29. @Mr. Absolutely No Sarcasm

    Is that post an exercise in absurdity? Because it sounds like a parody of yourself. Parody only works when you can find something to parody and, sorry to drop this one on you, but the ironic pose doesn't do much but make you look like somebody bullying (or trying to bully at least) people on internet comments (sad). Perhaps the emotional dwarf comment struck too close to home? No matter though, I won't be responding again so you can have the last word. Hopefully for your sake you can come up with something better, or maybe you just won't respond at all (this is my recommendation, but you dig your own grave).

    Also, I got Eileen's name wrong (sorry).

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  30. Mr. Absolutely No SarcasmMarch 24, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    @Anonymous 11:44

    Thank you for the last word:
    Don't take the internet so seriously,
    All best,
    Mr. Absolutely No Sarcasm

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  31. @ Eileen (aka "Elaine"),

    From your posts here and elsewhere, you seem like a genuinely reasonable, nice person. Do take note of the above and other comments on this blog. This is what academics are really like. And worse. Run RUN R-U-N in the other direction, leaving any grad school aspirations behind you. Maybe one day you can even hire some of us once we too abandon this sinking ship. If I had a time machine, this is the advice I would give my former, sane, healthy, happy self.

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  32. Wow, I have my very first internet hater! I feel special.

    This whole discussion kind of makes me laugh, because I actually DID have a graduate student try to get in my pants with the line "I am a grad student." Seriously, that's what he led with - an explanation of how he decided to go to graduate school so that girls would go out with him. He later told me I was pretty, smart, and interesting, but the damage was already done.

    Also, no need (for anyone) to apologize on the name. I had a professor once who called me "Irene" all semester. I corrected him twice, but it didn't seem to catch on, and he was very fond of Irene, so I didn't see the harm in it. :)

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  33. So, I don't like being around undergraduates all the time because it reminds me that I have barely any free time. It also bothers me because a lot of undergraduates remember me (from all of those 200+ student lecture classes), but I have a horrible time remembering them. Not only that, but the undergraduates at my school party a lot, and it becomes harder to study when they are breaking things, blaring music, and yelling drunkenly at all times of the night.

    So, for me, the distracting and destructive atmosphere that they cause is a reason for my graduate school woes.

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  34. So what you're saying is that teenagers and early twenty-somethings are immature, inconsiderate, oblivious, and destructive. Of course, that explains perfectly why many commenters find them to be the ideal sex partners: they share many traits with profs and grads! Eureka!

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  35. Or, you know, grad students date undergrads because that's the only available dating pool, and other grad students are not single, too busy, or other things that preclude relationships forming between grad students.

    Also, I think it's hilarious that most of these comments are of the "all undergrads are x" and "all grad students are y" varieties, with people getting their panties all in a bunch about it. If everyone is concenting adults, who really cares? Why are grad students automatically labled ethically bankrupt and emotionally stunted if they date younger legal adults? And why are undergrads automatically labled as immature and "preyed upon"? Last I checked we were all human beings, and every age group has its creepers and jackasses.

    In my experience, most grad students were a lot older, married, or otherwise spoken for, so any single grad students had to look elsewhere for people to date and hang out with, which meant undergrads or non-students...which is hard to do when one lives in a college town and is too busy to cultivate friendships with non-academic people.

    I knew of only ONE grad student who was a huge creeper who fetishized undergrad girls, but the rest of them were decent human beings who dated other decent human beings who just happened to be undergrads.

    Apparently, the internet is serious business.

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  36. "Undergrads usually range from 18-22 years old.
    Grad students can be as young as 22."

    Wrong. I was 21 when I went to grad school. There were undergrad girls I was in who were my age or older.

    No TA work. Also, I did girls who were older than me in grad school too. Like 31 when I was 23.

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  37. "So what you're saying is that teenagers and early twenty-somethings are immature, inconsiderate, oblivious, and destructive. Of course, that explains perfectly why many commenters find them to be the ideal sex partners: they share many traits with profs and grads! Eureka!"

    Plus, when they are younger, they have a tendency to be newer where it matters.

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  38. "concenting adults" (sic)

    "There were undergrad girls I was in"

    "I did girls who were older than me in grad school too. Like 31" (I "did girls"? 31 year old "girls"?)

    Really?!?

    Looks like all those undergrads you've been "dating" have rubbed off on you figuratively as well as literally. For those debating the maturity level/ick factor issues: case closed.

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  39. Because pointing out spelling/grammar errors on the internet = winning.

    If people in the same age ranges were dating outside of academia, people wouldn't even bat an eye. So why should it be any different if they were students, as long as it was ethical (legal adults and no teacher/student conflict)?

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  40. No, it's not just grammar. It's a creepy attitude. "I did girls"--you're really defending that kind of talk from someone smart enough to get into some kind of grad school? It's gross. Why it should be different? Amongst other things, power and the relative maturity of the parties involved. If you want to argue that you are only as mature as a bunch of kids whose greatest accomplishment is lying to their TA, fine with me.

    I really don't understand why so many here are so desperate to defend their right to screw young, dumb, shallow kids (at this point I'm fairly sure that Reason 51 has generated more comments than any other, and focused on the issue of entitlement to screw--sad). In any case, with the advent of that wonderful contraption, the interweb, I hear you can meet all kinds of age-appropriate folks for casual encounters (I am in a committed relationship, but people I know can be having sex with a stranger within the hour--no need to troll your English lit discussion section for some action). No insular college town is only populated by undergrads. The only reason I can think of to focus on undergrads is that they are naive, will demand nothing of you, and they are easy pickins. Would you bring one on your arm to an important departmental party?

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  41. Relationships of this type can be judged on three criteria - age difference, jurisdiction or lack thereof of grad student over undergrad, and seriousness of commitment.

    At one end would be a 40-year-old grad student having a brief and purely sexual fling with his own undergrad - disgusting and ought to lead to expulsion from the program.

    At the other end would be a 23-year-old English first-year grad student dating a 22-year-old Chemistry major senior in a relationship that blossoms several years afterward into marriage - I don't see anything wrong with this and such terms as "tender young flesh," "entitlement to screw," "get in my pants," etc. don't seem to apply to it at all.

    Most such relationships fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

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  42. Let's return again to the point of the blog and the original reason itself, which essentially says:

    Here's a reason not to go to grad school: being around young, carefree folks all the time becomes increasingly uncomfortable as you advance in your program and the age disparity between you and them widens.

    The blogger is NOT telling you that it's immoral to have sex with or marry someone one measly year younger than you are. I really don't think anyone here is saying that. Nonetheless, the bulk of responses have amounted to a staunch defense of the f***ability of undergrads. It's even been suggested that any institutional regulation of staff/faculty-undergrad relations impinges upon our freedom and is anti-American (that one really made me giggle).

    So again, the blogger is saying, "Hey prospective grad students, you may be young now and not think of this, but over time being surrounded by the type of people whom you used to enjoyed partying with is going to wear on you. Growing older while your pool of students stays the same year after year is depressing, especially when you realize that they probably have better job prospects than you do." Our collective retort is "No, blogger, aging alongside young people is a plus, because we have a ready pool of sex partners. It's a great reason to go to grad school."

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  43. My thoughts exactly, anon @ 7:37 PM. When I was a grad student, the only undergrads I ever dated were a sixth-year undergrad and an undergrad who was two years OLDER than I was...they both basically could have been grad students themselves.

    And to what anon @ 3:38 said (to get back to the point of this entry) is also very true. I was only in grad school for a few years, but I knew staying there any longer would just be bad, since I would just be getting older and older while everyone else would be getting younger and younger. It WAS depressing.

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  44. @ 9:03. Exactly. I dated an undergrad who went into the service before going to undergrad.

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  45. "Would you bring one on your arm to an important departmental party?"

    AN IMPORTANT DEPARTMENTAL PARTY????
    BWWWAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    Can't bring Suzie to my "important departmental party," she'll only show me up with her cringe-worthy 21 year old thoughts, because I value the dull opinions of my professors over being nice to someone I'm dating.

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  46. okay, let's just get this straight once and for all:

    1. undergrads are great to hang out with.
    2. undergrads are great sex partners.
    3. undergrads are great for dating and more serious relationships.
    4. there is nothing more important or interesting to discuss, especially the actual topic of this blog.

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  47. This whole blog is based on building the self-esteem of loser hacks who couldn't cut it in academia or got rejected from their dream graduate program. Sucks for you....LOL

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  48. Loser hacks? Blow me.

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  49. Um, I guess I'm posting to an old comment thread that got a little heated... but I wanted to point out a second injustice of being around undergraduates all the time: sometimes they have more money than you. Sometimes, depending on the school, they have a LOT more money than you. Imagine pulling up to a red light beside one of your students who is driving a new Lexus SUV, while you are in a decade-old Hyundai with a broken tail light (broken, it's worth mentioning, by a drunk undergrad who threw a beer bottle at it). Or realizing your students are wearing shoes that cost as much as your food budget for the month. It's tough.

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  50. Undergrads are too young to date, but they're nice eye candy, AND they help keep you young just being around them. Fresh idea, new concepts, and a pressing need to keep up. You all are way too cynical.

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    1. Agreed. I find undergrads highly annoying, immature, and vacuous in most situations, but some days my attractive female students are the only thing compelling me to go teach.

      Disclaimer: I would never date one of my own current students, though.

      Delete
  51. Having read the clusterfuck that is this comment stream, I came to a simple conclusion :
    OMG Grad students are such deluded self-aggrandizing douchebags :D

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    1. That's kind of pointless to conclude. First off, it's a generalization that obviously isn't true for all grad students; in my experience, grad students can be quite humble, kind, and altruistic, especially compared to undergrad students. (Of course, this isn't always the case.) Second, "deluded self-aggrandizing douchebags" can be found among virtually all groups of people, not limited to merely grad students. They can be found among elementary, middle school, and undergrad students, as well as bosses, employees, retired people, along with every other group of people in existence. Similarly, people who are assholes can be found among all groups, so there's no reason to "OMG" about it. :P

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  52. Best. Comment Thread. Of the Blog.

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    1. the most revealing, i would say.

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  53. It feels extremely weird being a grad assistant. I can't imagine what PhD students feel like. The students you taught while you were earning your Master's degree may be out in the non-academic world and potentially out-earning you by your 3rd year of doctoral studies!

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