A Golden Rule for Graduate School

 January 8, 2014

Have you ever had someone RSVP for an event and fail to show up at the event without the courtesy of an email or phone call?  Current technology might even prompt a terse text of regret.  A text message would be a better response than no response at all, in my opinion.  Who are these seemingly discourteous individuals without a hint of home training?  I am acquainted with disrespectful people like this and they happen to be called graduate students!  Please do not be offended as I am making a gross generalization about the graduate student population, but I want to make sure that I grab your undivided, albeit a bit perturbed now, attention.

How seriously do I take the graduate student that always registers for an event and never attends without any explanation?  When that same student applies for a graduate internship, am I to believe that these rude habits will not persist?  What do I say when I receive a reference phone call for a graduate student that exhibits unprofessional behavior?  Ah, the dilemmas of an assistant dean!

At the beginning of a new year, I implore you to resolve to take professional development seriously.  Start by practicing the habits of common decency, good manners and etiquette by:

Attending events for which you register or RSVP! (If you have difficulty remembering an event that you signed up for last month or even yesterday, I recommend placing the event on your calendar.  Outlook, Google, and Yahoo, for example, offer some great features and reminders.)

Missing appointments, activities, and engagements can be as grave as missing a deadline or an assignment in your department.  Don’t let the fact that you are not receiving a grade lead you to practice behaviors that are negative for your reputation.  Life happens, but never become too busy to practice gentility in spite of how busy or out-of-sorts you may be.

There are many rules to guide you through graduate school.  One of those rules is to “Practice Professional Development by being responsible and respectful of activities, resources, and time (your own and others’).”  (I know it’s long, but if you say it enough, it sticks).  Make a decisive commitment to your professional development in every aspect. Here’s wishing you the best in the new year and in days ahead as your professional development actions speak as loudly as your professional development words and deeds.

Alan Kendrick, Ph.D., is the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Development