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How to Piss Off a Grad Student

by Matt Hershberger May 1, 2014
When you hear we’re going to grad school, tell us you miss college.

This isn’t college. Okay, there’s still a decent amount of alcohol consumption, but grad students are not going to parties to drink. They are treating themselves to a handle of low-quality gin after a hard day’s work, as is every red-blooded American’s prerogative.

Say, “It must be nice to have all that free time.”

Yes, we have a limited number of classes, but have you ever heard of research? And no, I’m not talking about the time you did a book report on Sideways Stories from Wayside School when you were in the fourth grade. You get to go home after work. We get to do more work after work. And a lot of us do it for free.

When you hear about our degree, tell us to have fun flipping burgers.

Some of us enjoy education for the sake of education. Some of us find more fulfillment in studying something we love than selling our souls for a paycheck. And some of us will be perfectly happy to be the only sociologists flipping burgers, as long as we’re flipping them at Shake Shack.

Tell us we’re only putting off our inevitable unemployment by mortgaging our future with unaffordable student loans that will cripple us as we emerge, years late, into a job market that desires experience over knowledge.

Yeah, well…shut up.

Tell us, “Oh, I took that class,” when you hear about our degree.

First off: There isn’t a single subject in the world that could be fit into a single class. You don’t take “Physics 101,” and then know all there is to know about physics. This does not mean you know as much as we do about our topic. For Christ’s sake, this tiny bit of expertise is all we have left.

Make jokes about delaying adulthood.

We’re perfectly aware this is exactly what we’re doing. Unless we’re going the academic route which, let’s be honest, most of us aren’t. But maybe we got an undergraduate degree that didn’t suit itself to mid-recession employment. Maybe we still want to cling to some shred of our ideals that allows us to be fulfilled rather than giving up on our dreams to get paid. Maybe we can’t yet imagine a world where bleary-eyed, post-study, insomnia-induced binges of Friday Night Lights are no longer an option. Just let us suffer in peace.

Be an undergraduate.

You know how annoying your bubbly, doe-eyed optimism is, right? You know how stupid your test answers are, right? You know how much we hate doing the TA grunt work for a bunch of hungover, oversexed coeds who are only in the class to fulfill a general education requirement, right?

Seriously though, we were once undergraduates. We remember what it was like to live in a magical playland of booze and sex, where our only worries were getting chlamydia again and waking up in time for our 10am classes. We remember it so clearly and vividly that we hate that you still get to be in it, without having been released yet into the cruel, nasty, jobless real world. Because we came back to school, but we didn’t really come back. Graduate school just isn’t the same. We’ve seen what it’s like out there. We’ve been out in the world and we failed, so the only way to not despise ourselves is to despise you. It’s an easy choice, really.

Be our parents.

This isn’t 1964, Mom and Dad. You can’t spend a night bartending and make enough money for a month anymore. Everything costs money now. We no longer live in an economy of affordable education, or affordable healthcare, or affordable food. It’s just an eternal positive feedback loop of debt and misery and could you co-sign this loan?

Be out of school and employed.

What… how… what the fuck did you do to deserve this? How are you not in debt? How is it you were able to afford taking your significant other to that not-fast-food restaurant? It’s obviously witchcraft. Stop saying it was planning, connections, and hard work. We know that’s horseshit. We hate you. We hate you from the bottom of our black, scarred souls. If we knew how to summon forth some sort of awful, Lovecraftian nameless beast to devour your body and spirit over the course of a thousand years, Sarlacc-style, we totally would.

And hey, could you put in a good word for us? We just submitted an application with your HR department.

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