“Throwback Thursday: Back-to-School Beatitudes–10 Academic Survival Tips” (Crunk Feminist Collective)

Here is a terrific collection of academic survival tips for the “target audience” of my business and this blog from The Crunk Feminist Collective

Samples (QUOTED):

  • Be confident in your abilities.
    • If you feel like a fraud, you very likely are suffering from impostor syndrome, a chronic feeling of intellectual or personal inadequacy born of grandiose expectations about what it means to be competent. Women in particular suffer with this issue, but I argue that it is worse for women-of-color (particularly Blacks and Latinas) who labor under stereotypes of both racial and gender incompetence. The academy itself also creates grandiose expectations, given the general perception of academicians as hypercompetent people. Secret: Everybody that’s actin like they know, doesn’t really know. So ask your question. It’s probably not as stupid as you think. Now say this with me: “I’m smart enough, my work is important, and damn it, I’m gonna make it.”
  • Be patient with yourself.
    • Be patient with your own process of intellectual growth. You will get there and it will all come together. You aren’t supposed to know everything at the beginning. And you still won’t know everything at the end (of coursework, exams, the dissertation, life…).
    • Getting the actual degree isn’t about intellect. It is about sheer strength of will and dogged determination. “Damn it, I’m gonna walk out of here with that piece of paper if it’s the last cottonpickin’ thing I do.” That kind of thinking helps you to keep going after you’ve just been asked to revise a chapter for the third time, your committee member has failed to submit a letter of rec on time, and you feel like blowing something or someone up.
  • Be your own best advocate. Prioritize your own professional needs/goals.
    • You have not because you ask not.  You have to be willing to ask for what you need. You deserve transparency about the rules and procedures of your program, cordial treatment from faculty, staff and students, and a program that prepares you not only for the rigors of grad school but also for the job market (should you desire a career in academia).  But folks won’t hand it to you on a silver platter. You have to build relationships, ask questions, and make demands.
    • Figure out your writing process (the place [home, coffee shop, library], time [morning, afternoon, night], and conditions [background noise, total silence, cooler or warmer] under which you work best and try to create those conditions as frequently as possible during finals, qualifying exams, and dissertation.
    • Your self-advocacy will often be misperceived as aggression and anger, entitlement or selfishness. Don’t apologize. 

 

More here:

Throwback Thursday: Back-to-School Beatitudes–10 Academic Survival Tips”

Clients of Matrix Education and Editorial Services receive emotional support in each and every one of the areas identified by The Crunk. I have a weekly online support group for academics who have ADHD added to the challenges of non-traditional academic identities — i.e., people of color, LGBT, disabled, and other non-European-descendent-cisgender-male identities. This group currently meets Thursdays @ 5-6 p.m. Central through my Join.me technology (very easy to use), which allows screen sharing and recording (with your permission).

If/when I can gather three to four non-ADHD people interested in a support group that focuses on the issues specific to those non-traditional academic identities, I will create another group to be scheduled according to participants’ needs. The charge for this is $20 per person per one-hour session. If I have four people I will reserve one space for someone who needs to negotiate a lower fee.

Note: I am myself a white cisgender straight female, but my passion in life is to enable real social change by helping non-traditional academics to succeed and thrive. I have three identities that make ME non-traditional: I am ADHD myself, I am disabled in non-visible ways, and I have lived a lifetime of being “other” by virtue of surviving childhood sexual abuse. I know what it means to be invisible and to be judged by prejudice. In addition, I OWN the privileges that accrue to me by virtue of my whiteness and my status as middle class (despite low income) due to culture and education. And I am open to being called out when I do or say things that suggest I am unconscious of my privilege. I welcome being educated by my clients!

 

Silencing the critical voices

All of us at one time or another have had to confront “blank page panic.” There are many reasons for that panic, but the #1 reason is that the voices of all those critics who have torn apart our work are blasting in our ears, making it impossible to hear our own voices.

I have two clients right now whose various advisers and committee people have responded to their submitted chapters with criticism that, however polite, however much phrased in the language of “nice,” has made the authors feel as if their committees believe, deep down, that they are grossly incompetent. Surely they must be thinking, “How in the world did we allow this student into our program? She’s clearly not cut out for it!”

Whether or not the committee members are ACTUALLY thinking that is irrelevant, particularly (but not only) for minority students, because for so much of their lives they have been told that they will never measure up, that they will never be good enough no matter how hard they work, because they were born into the world as second-class human beings.

White (majority) students do also encounter that deep and abiding sense that they are somehow frauds, and when their work is being criticized harshly it must be because their true incompetence has been revealed. Every one of us at one time or another had that nightmare where our degrees get stripped from us, or we are told our admission to graduate school was a mistake.

Women also are particularly susceptible to feeling inadequate or having low self-esteem and minimal self-confidence. We’ve been bombarded with messages from every which direction telling us that we will never be good enough, and especially, we will never be SMART enough to be anything more than second in ability or accomplishments. And these feelings stick with us, often, no matter how many accomplishments we have listed in our CV’s.

Men (or at least, white men) don’t understand this. My graduate/thesis adviser (both the same person) told me several years after I started the doctoral program at Iowa that the department determined that it would give me its award for outstanding doctoral student in research after my first semester there. But they didn’t tell me how highly they regarded my work for fear I would get a “big head.” I did eventually receive the award, but I can guarantee that the danger of getting a “big head” was never there! Throughout the entire program I struggled with self-confidence. I sorely needed reassurances and support.

Minority students, especially female minority students, are hit even harder — a double, even triple whammy of cultural forces telling them that they are no good and never will measure up to the best.

So when you are sitting down and facing that blank page, all those voices of criticism come back to you, telling you that the “fraud” you’ve been perpetrating all this time is now being revealed, so you might as well give up. They become a wild chorus, rising in number and volume, to the point that your OWN voice becomes a whisper, or is silenced altogether.

Here are three strategies to counteract that deafening crescendo:

1. Utilize whatever means you have developed to help you relax. Do deep breathing exercises. Listen to soft music. Take a hot bath if need be (assuming it won’t put you to sleep!).

2. Break your tasks down to manageable chunks. I have a “five minute rule” for most of the tasks that I avoid. That is, I know I can do anything for five minutes. After five minutes I can go do something else. Usually after I get started on something that way, I want to keep going.  But even if I don’t, I will have at least accomplished that five minutes worth of work. And it’s amazing what one can get done in five minutes!

With writing, five minutes won’t get you very far. So instead of five minutes, maybe you can say you will write five paragraphs — some small enough quantity that you no longer feel overwhelmed with all that you must get done. The trick is to psych yourself out by breaking your project down into small, do-able chunks.

3. Substitute MY voice (or the voices of members of a support group) for the voices of your critics. Although I am very demanding in my expectations for quality writing, whatever critique I offer has the sole purpose of helping you to succeed. Your success is my success. I’m not there to weed you out of the game. I’m there to help make sure you win it. You are not alone. I’m on the sidelines, cheering you on.

4. Join a writing support group. As of this date, there are five spaces left in “A Room of Our Own.”  Substitute the supportive voices of your friends for the vicious, harsh voices of your academic critics.

A Room of Our Own — new writing support weblog

I created a shared weblog titled “A Room of Our Own” in order to help my clients stay on track with their academic writing by getting support from others struggling with the same difficulties. Clients are encouraged to share their troubles and their triumphs as they negotiate their way through the academic maze, which sometimes seems designed to frustrate and destroy hopes and dreams.

This blog is private. That is, whatever is shared here can be read only by the administrator, Georgia NeSmith (sole proprietor of Matrix Editorial Services) and other participating authors. Authors are invited individually and personally. Additional viewers may be invited with the permission of other participants. Viewers may comment on posts but may not create posts.

Because it is private, I cannot post a link here. Anyone who wishes to participate (it is open to non-clients as well) may go to my contact page here and select the writing support group radio button. Tell more about yourself in the description box.

Participation is limited to 15. Subscription fees are as follows:

Every client of Matrix Editorial Services is invited to participate in “A Room of Our Own” as an author free of charge for six months or until graduation, whichever comes first. Authors are allowed to create their own posts, categories, and tags.

After six months (or after graduation) you may continue to participate for a subscription fee of $15 per month until graduation or an additional six months, whichever comes first.

In addition, writers who do not require editorial services but want the benefits of a writing support group may join for free for three months, after which they must pay a fee of $25 per month if they wish to continue.

Currently the site is “bare bones” but eventually many resources will be added, and the site will be organized to ensure participants can easily track categories of information relevant to them.

If you wish to participate please