Nov 30, 2017
I have a longer post in me about this, but for now, adapted from my sent folder:
It’s critical to treat graduate school as something you actively shape as you’re there—to fully acknowledge that your decisions and initiatives are part of the curriculum. Be the change, etc. Taking a consumer approach and wasting time with disappointments about the program’s virtues and weaknesses is a distraction. I’ve seen students lose a lot of time this way: they organize and meet about the goods and services they’re missing, instead of cobbling together what they need elsewhere, as a workaround. They make “critical and conceptual” artwork about the institution itself, and how it’s corrupt, or hypocritical, or any number of possibly-real-but-unresolvable challenges. All of this, truly, is inside baseball and therefore a waste of your time during the active semester. There are modes of feedback and evaluation and reform for you to take up outside of ordinary academic time. Use those for your complaints.
Focus otherwise on the biggest, most ambitious questions you can, in preparation to work in a giant field as a lifelong learner. Round up the resources you need, wherever they may be found. Deciding that you’re there as a constitutive part of the program itself, not just an obedient student who is either being served or not served well, is the way to make it what you want.