Graduate school is a job, especially for those students are being paid by the university to work in some capacity as instructors or research assistants. If you’re on the clock, earn your paycheck. Find ways to be helpful, introduce new ideas for improving current practices or programs, and participate in your department. It’s not that you can’t have hobbies outside of your academic life, but that you understand graduate school places a huge demand on your time.
2. You shall not make idols out of other scholars.
Every field has its rock stars. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to them – yes, even as a mere grad student! – by email, phone, or in person to initiate a conversation about a shared research interest, ask a question, or seek advice. Elder scholars often want to help out the new kids on the block, the same way their mentors once helped them.
3. You shall not take the names of your colleagues, classmates, and advisor in vain.
I’m not saying you have to like everyone you work with. You probably won’t. But don’t vent about the professor you loathe in the break room. Departments are small and the walls have ears.
4. Remember to take a rest day.
There needs to be a reward for all the time, energy, and money you are investing in your degree. Manage your schedule effectively so that you have the option to have a night off from doing homework, the ability to go on a date, or the opportunity to spend a day going for a hike with friends.
5. Honor your academic parents.
In academia, your scholarly parent is usually your advisor. Trust her advice when she offers guidance. Follow through on any instructions he gives you. Make the corrections they suggest. Obey them – not blindly, but confident that they want what’s best for you and are attempting to use their own experiences to help you find the right path for your career and research interests.
6. You shall not kill your personal dreams in pursuit of your professional aspirations.
No, you don’t have much free time. But if you want to get married or start a family or travel around Europe or write a book about cats, find a way to merge your personal goals with your professional objectives. Otherwise, you risk having your entire identity subsumed by your professional persona, which you will likely end up regretting at some point.
7. You shall be faithful to your values.
If there is a project that asks you to engage in some kind of work that violates your fundamental principles of right and wrong, speak to a trusted advisor about how to negotiate the situation. If your academic parents are asking you to do something that doesn’t feel right or honest, consult with another trusted professor for guidance.
8. You shall not steal the work of others.
Academia is supposed to be an open forum and scholars are expected to give credit to others when due, as well as be transparent about their sources. Make sure you are being honest about where you are getting your ideas and arguments from.
9. You shall not lie.
No, seriously, don’t plagiarize. Stealing others’ work is lying about your own.
10. You shall not covet the accolades, awards, and accomplishments of others.
Ok, it might not be possible to never feel a sliver of envy when you see your classmates winning the grants and head-pats you are also striving for, but remember that you are all working on discrete projects. Just keep doing your best work as creatively and thoroughly as possible. Don’t wait for everyone else to notice you – do something amazing that will make people notice your work!