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(adapted from materials shared by Sheila Patek)

The process of achieving a Ph.D. in graduate school is unlike any other form of “school” that you’ve previously experienced.  For a start, you might have noticed that you are being paid to go to school.  This is a big clue about the different expectations for graduate students in this area of academia compared to college or other graduate programs that students pay to attend.  The fact that this is a paid position, indicates that it is a job, not simply “going to school”.  The job consists of a form of apprenticeship in which specific tasks are being performed (e.g., teaching as a teaching assistant, or performing a research assistant position) and new skills are being acquired (independent and collaborative research, production of papers and grants, coursework, lab meetings, conferences).  The culmination of graduate school is usually a dissertation consisting of independently performed research and a suite of additional skills and achievements that enhance the student’s potential future success on the job market.