Book Quotes: 57 Ways to Screw Up in Grad School

Hey everyone! As a current graduate school student, I picked up this book at the library because it looked humorous but also insightful. I’ve pulled quotes from a few sections of the book relevant to myself and other current graduate students. However, much of the advice from this book that I’ve posted for your reading is applicable to everyone, regardless of where you are in life! I hope you enjoy the selected quotations and find them relevant to your own happy and healthy adventure! ❤ 🙂

Managing Your Program

#17: Concentrate Only On Your Thesis

“While practice might not make perfect, it can certainly make tasks easier and less stressful” (57).


“…the most important stuff, the activities and achievements that will make the difference in whether you end up where you want to be afterward, is extra, beyond just completing your degree” (57-58).


” …you will get out of it what you put into it” (58).


“…do not be afraid to take a few risks and propose your own ventures” (59).


“The fact you have never done such things before and are not sure where to start is to be expected. You are challenging yourself and learning new skills. Ask around for guidance…” (60).

#19: Select a Topic for Entirely Strategic Reasons

“Life is so much easier if, when you roll out of bed, you look forward to working on something you find exciting. Do not ignore the more fundamental considerations but do not be afraid to pursue your passion” (64).

#24: Organize Everything Only in Your Head

“Figure out what systems work for you and be sure to use them” (76).

Your Work and Social Life

“Setting your own boundaries in such a setting [graduate school studies] can be tough, but if you do not make time for yourself, nobody else will do it for you” (81).

#26: Concentrate Solely on School

“Finding balance in your life is important…” (83).

#29: Get a Job! 

“…do not take on extra family and life activities beyond what you can reasonably manage” (88).


“…if you are going to follow any path that is going to consume a lot of time, be fully aware of how that will affect your progress” (88).

Your Attitude and Actions

“Thriving as a graduate student involves in part simply being considerate, pleasant, and responsible” (109).

“You will be amazed by how far simply being a thoughtful person will go in advancing your career” (109).

“A positive attitude, combined with a willingness to handle challenges productively, will make your program easier” (109-110).

#36: Expect to Be Judged Only on Your Work

“Be conscious of the many factors that shape how others view you. It is impossible to list all of the considerations here, but your parents advice about following the golden rule, that manners matter, and that you need to get along to get ahead applies as much in the university as it does in other realms of life” (111).


“At the same time, you do not have to always be nice and do as you are told. Sometimes it is crucial to take a stand, hold your ground, and in the process risk coming across as abrasive or confrontational. Pick your battles wisely and do not give people reason to believe that you are always combative” (112).

#37: Have a Thin Skin

“To thrive and move forward, you must undertake projects that might fail” (113).


“…you need to get used to being excellent and yet not always succeeding” (114).

#38: Be Inconsiderate

“…having a reputation for being trustworthy, dependable, and committed helps you stand out” (117).

Final Thoughts

“[Maximize opportunities. Take responsibility. Build healthy professional relationships. Look for help–it’s not a sign of weakness. Forge a professional reputation that you will be proud of” (173-174).

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