Many graduate students complain of loneliness, particularly once they have finished their classes and are officially All But Dissertation. There are many reasons for this:
- Many hours spent alone, researching, reading and writing
- The tendency to feel that others are progressing faster than you, leading to self isolation out of shame
- Family members and friends who are not in grad school don’t understand how hard it can be to write the dissertation.
- Some students don’t really feel welcome in their department and get the feeling that their advisors don’t want them around.
- After being burned by stinging criticism about one’s first attempts at dissertating, some students withdraw from contact with others, or anything that reminds them of their department.
- Some students end up moving away, usually due to a spouse’s work needs. This is a particularly isolating situation.
How do you deal with loneliness in graduate school? Here are some first ideas. This site is packed with other ideas on this subject, so make sure you look around.
- Be proactive in reaching out to others once you are ABD
- Join a dissertation group (see other FAQ’s for graduate students — there are two items on this)
- Schedule regular meetings with your advisor, no matter how scary or unpleasant they may be. Avoidance is a real dissertation killer.
- If you are living away from your university, join a dissertation group in a local university. Most will welcome you.
- Get to know professors in your field wherever you are living. If you are living away from your university, you may be able to find a professor who is willing to be a reader or outside committee member, if it is OK with your dissertation advisor.
- Go to conferences and get to know others in your area of specialization. Stay in touch by email.
- Talk with other graduate students about your feelings of self doubt or loneliness. Chances are very high that they feel the same, but thought they were the only ones, so they never brought it up. There’s nothing better than finding out you’re not alone!
- Visit this site often. Read my blog.
- Sign up for my newsletter (upper left hand corner of every page of this site!) Many people have told me that the articles help remind them that they are not alone and that they are not crazy!
Posted in: Grad School