In graduate school and academia in general, there is little separation between one’s personal and professional life. As the adage goes, the scholar does not “do the work of the mind” but rather, “lives the life of the mind.” Friends and colleagues are one in the same (the simple act of making friends becomes “networking”) and the lines that usually delineate public and private life are constantly crossed.
While this blurring of boundaries can create a rich existence in which all streams lead to the sea, it can also become overwhelming: while most people can disengage from work at 5:00 p.m. and resume their “life,” our work is our life, making it nearly impossible to walk away. And as such, the cultivation of both the personal and the professional self are interwoven in intricate ways.
This issue of the Pedant deals with both. In “The Art of Humility” (see right) and our feature story on Imposter Syndrome (page six), we delve into personal characteristics—self-assessment, identity, diffidence—that have a significant impact on our personal and professional selves. But as mentioned, the pursuit of academia is a lifestyle, and this issue of the Pedant is fraught with opportunities to cultivate that lifestyle at CGU and in the surrounding community: where and how to get involved and meet people (GSC update, page five) and how to hunt like a vegetarian (La Flâneuse, page eight). Of course, we are ever mindful of the nuts and bolts of graduate life, so make sure to read about changes to financial aid (page three) and updates on CGU’s realignment (page four).
Whether you are new to CGU or returning to the melee from your summer hiatus, fall is always a time for new beginnings.
Whatever your goals are for the upcoming year, remember that while in pursuit of the “life of the mind,” to cultivate both life and mind in equal measure.
Editor, the Pedant
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Leonardo Di Vinci said: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” And for many graduate students, paper writing is an art, and one often abandoned too soon.
Di Vinci’s point was that art is a process, and there is always room for improvement. And whether it’s your final paper for a seminar, a presentation at a conference, or a chapter in your dissertation, the Writing Center is there to help you improve your work.
From providing a practice audience for class presentations, to serving as a second set of eyes on a final paper—both in person or via Skype—the writing center offers a variety of useful services for international students and native English speakers.
“A big misconception is that there’s no point in coming to the Writing Center unless you have a full, complete draft of whatever you’re writing. Not so! We love to talk about writing at any stage,” said Writing Center tutor and English PhD student Caroline Carpenter. “And now, with Skype, you can share your ideas from your sofa, in your jammies! It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Amidst newly painted walls and a colossal pencil dangling tenuously from the ceiling, peer consultants are there to help you review your work. The Writing Center also offers workshops throughout the year such as dissertation boot camps, “Writing the Lit Review” and “How to start a Consulting Practice in Grad School,” (i.e., how to move up from your diet of ramen and saltines).
“Everyone goes through a messy process to get a better paper,” said Katya Fairbanks, director of the Writing Center. “The goal of most academics is to be better writers.” And while having your work under a magnifying glass may be daunting, it is an indispensable part of getting your work accepted at a conference or published in a journal (or just keeping a watchful eye on the ol’ GPA).
Carpenter may have said it best: “If it involves words, we’re on your side.” Tally ho!
For more information on the writing center, or to use the online booking system to make your appointment today, visit writecenter.cgu.edu. And remember, humility is a necessary step on the path to greatness.
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Ok, so being a member of the academic elite is a sort of honorary society in itself. But if you would like to add honor to honor, like when Scott Baio guest-starred in Full House . . . or a turducken . . . then consider either joining one of CGU’s academic honor societies, or starting one up yourself.
Our in-depth research (comprised of a Google search last Tuesday) reveals that CGU is currently home to three academic honor societies: Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society (contact: Robert.Dawidoff@cgu.edu); Sigma Tau Delta, the English honors society (contact: Emily.Schuck@cgu.edu); and Psi Chi, the international psychology honors society (contact: Stephen.Miller@cgu.edu). But aside from a few extra Greek words on your curriculum vitae (where more always=better) what is the practical purpose of joining an honor society?
According to Emily Schuck, English masters student, Sigma Tau Delta CGU chapter founder, and writer for this august publication, the opportunities that come with joining an honors society are numerous (sorry though, no green jacket).
“Our society hosts conferences and publishes papers specifically for and by its members, offers a variety of scholarships, and provides numerous other networking and professional opportunities. You can also use your society to get involved in philanthropic activities, such as volunteering with literacy programs. It’s a great way to get to know people in your field and create more of a community within your department.”
Nearly every academic field has an honor society (or several) associated with it, so if your department is current vacuus veneratio (even if you don’t know what that means, you can tell it sounds bad) consider starting one up. Typically, honor societies require a new chapter to have at least 10 members, a faculty advisor, and a short written statement. And while there may be application fees, they are generally low, and might be considered a good investment by your department.
To find out more about societies in your field, talk to your professors, department heads, and consult your umbrella academic organizations; because while completing a course of post-graduate education is an honor in itself, an academic honor society can provide just the right opportunities to take that honor to the next level.
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Federal Student Aid (FSA) is an amorphous thing. Not only are loan terms constantly in flux, but they are often the subject of political debates, making their stasis seem all the more tenuous. And unlike those things which we dread but have at least come to accept as fixed and inevitable—like death and taxes—student loan terms are as ephemeral as youth, beauty, and those moments of respite between papers.
And this past summer has been no exception. For new students, the changes to FSA enacted on July 1, 2012 will have little bearing on how you understand your government loans. But for students long accustomed to the FSA rigmarole now is the time to unlearn what you knew, and get up to speed with the new face of FSA.
As of July, graduate students will no longer be offered subsidized government loans, which means that beginning on the day the loan is disbursed, the principle will begin to accrue interest. Additionally, the subsidization of loans during the repayment grace period (usually six months) will also be eradicated. And for those of us employed in work-study positions, get ready to earn less: the government has lowered the amount of work study funds allocated to graduate students by 20-30 percent.
Luckily, you are reading this article, and won’t be surprised when you get your first bill and the principle is higher than the amount you took out in loans. But not to fret: loans taken out before July 2012 will still retain the terms of the original loan agreement.
Director of CGU financial aid, Susie Guilbault, cautions students to be proactive about their loans, to live frugally, and to take only as much loan money as they need to live. And for those of us still sweating about our loans, the Office of Financial Aid holds bi-yearly financial-sophistication workshops for students about to graduate (this semester’s will be in November), as well as other financial workshops, such as learning about how loans affect your credit score and reconciling student debt with buying a home.
If you would like guidance in budgeting your graduate career, or have any other questions about financial aid, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, where there is always a smiling, calming person there to help.
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Every Monday morning beginning this fall, you should start receiving the CGU Bugle in your CGU e-mail inbox. The Bugle is a compilation of all the week’s events, announcements, news, videos, and even Hagelbarger’s specials. The goal is to provide as much information to CGU students without being an e-mail monster hogging up all your space.
For more information on CGU (or Claremont Consortium) events, please check the Master Calendar (there’s a link on the university home page and in the Bugle itself). If you have any feedback, questions, or announcements/events you would like to see included, e-mail email@example.com.
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You may have heard tidbits here and there about realignment for the past few months. Department chairs have assured you that there’s nothing to worry about, and your trusty Pedant has been keeping you posted on its progress. Here’s what happened over the summer while you were in blissful retreat from the affairs of CGU.
The previous nine schools of CGU are now a smaller, neater, five, with newly appointed deans: Tammi Schneider will take charge of the School of Arts & Humanities, Religion, and Botany; (2) Scott Thomas will lead the School of Education; (3) Stewart Donaldson will serve as the dean of the School of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences, Politics, and Economics; (4) Andy Johnson will head the School of Community and Global Health; (5) and Bernie Jaworski will be the commander-in-chief of the Drucker School of Management in collaboration with the Center for Information Systems and Technology and the Institute for Mathematical Studies. And if that isn’t enough to memorize, these names are all subject to change.
And good things are coming in this smaller package: the fusion of the schools will create new opportunities for programs, research, and practice-based learning.
“Realignment has strengthened each department’s resources, which should enhance and support the student experience,” said Director of Financial Aid Susie Guilbault. “It is a positive move for CGU and we embrace the changes for a successful academic year.”
The reorganization of schools is only a small part of realignment (one-seventh, in fact), along with fundraising, student services, marketing, transdisciplinary research, performance and accountability, and budget.
Other important developments over the summer included a transdisciplinary studies external review that is designed to improve the CGU experience. Look for a survey distributed through e-mail and invitations to focus groups. This is your chance to get involved with realignment and make sure you have the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas.
On the fiscal front, the university hired a new Vice President of Advancement, Bedford McIntosh, to boost funding for student fellowships (yay!). It also adopted a new budget model that includes fiscal capacity (if you don’t know econ-speak, this translates into CGU’s ability to generate revenue) and budget transparency.
The next steps of realignment include launching a Transdisciplinary Research Center (details TBA, but it sure sounds fancy) and improving the website.
The only change affecting your day-to-day is a personnel restructuring; be sure to familiarize yourself with your department know-it-alls so you can find them when you need them. Finally, even though you have new cohorts in your school, neither your degree information nor degree program will change.
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Welcome back from the Graduate Student Council. We are excited to begin this new academic year with you!
We invite you to celebrate the commencement of fall semester with the annual Welcome Back BBQ on Thursday, September 13th at 4 pm on Des Combs Quad (that big grassy area outside of Hagelbarger’s). Come meet new friends, catch up with old ones, and check out the student clubs that CGU has to offer. Many faculty and administrators will be there to mingle as well. Keep an eye out for Dean of Students, Fred Siegel, and his dog, Nigel, as they will be wandering around the party to meet you and hear your thoughts (Nigel’s a great listener).
Besides outstanding social events, the GSC promotes student academic success. Travel and Material Awards are available again this year! Eligible events are those that occurred between April 22, 2012-October 14, 2012. The deadline for proposals is October 28, 2012; don’t forget to save your receipts! This reimbursement program is a great opportunity to earn back some of the money you spend on research, conferences, and supplies each semester.
Be active and involved. Find out if your school has already elected their GSC representatives and delegates; if they haven’t, consider running! If they have, you are always welcome to attend meetings. Our meetings are bimonthly and everyone is invited. Please contact us with any questions, concerns, or ideas.
Finally, if you have concerns about student life, GSC is your advocate!
It’s the first day of school. You walk in to the classroom, pick a seat, and wait for the professor to arrive. During these few moments of downtime, you look around at your classmates: They look “grad school.” They look like they belong here. They look “right.”
As class begins, they seem engaged. They interact with the professor with ease, while you spend most of your mental energy thinking up a question just so you have something to say (that hopefully isn’t embarrassing). When class ends, you pack up your things and hurry home, a feeling of insecurity washing over you. “I’m a fraud,” you think. “I don’t belong.”
And you are not alone.
In 1978, clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes coined the term “Imposter Phenomenon” (now more widely referred to as “Imposter Syndrome” or IS). Marked by the inability to internalize success and a disjunction between self-assessment and actual abilities, people suffering from IS can feel, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they have conned everyone to get where they are.
Originally identified as occurring primarily in high-performing but inwardly anxious women, subsequent studies have shown that it affects men and women in equal numbers. And one place where Imposter Syndrome is found in spades is among graduate students and young faculty.
“Even though [these people] are often very successful by external standards, they feel their success has been due to some mysterious fluke or luck or great effort,” says Clance in her article “Imposter Phenomenon.” “They are afraid their achievements are due to ‘breaks’ and not the result of their own ability and competence.”
In his article on the website Science, career-advice columnist Lucas Laursen tells the following anecdote about a newly minted professor:
. . . [She] told the group that she had worried that she’d been let into her graduate program on a fluke and that someday she’d make an error that would blow her cover. She had always believed her peers in graduate school were much smarter despite knowing that she had the best grades of the bunch… She worries that someday her colleagues might wise up and out her as an impostor, a fraud in a lab coat.”
Sound familiar? It’s no surprise.
Imposter Syndrome is actually more prevalent among high-achieving individuals. In Susan Pinker’s 2008 book, The Sexual Paradox, Troubled Boys, Gifted Girls and the Real Difference Between the Sexes, Dr. Margaret Chan, chief of the World Health Organization and IS sufferer says, “There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.”
And in few other careers is the awareness of “all the things you don’t know” more prevalent than in academia, where the idea of “expertise” is at the core of the profession.
Most people who have the personality type to pursue a path of “expertise” are most likely also the type with incredibly (perhaps impossibly) high standards. Ambition—the force that seeks to reconcile a person’s vision of who they want to be with the reality of who they are—can be a powerful factor in success. However, people with Imposter Syndrome have “very unrealistic notions of what it means to be competent,” says career counselor Valerie Young in the 2009 Psychology Today article, “The Imposter Syndrome,” and they “set this internal bar exceedingly high.” Failure to clear that bar can affect an individual’s life and career in insidious ways, especially for academics.
Because of these unrealistic expectations, slight defeats or failures can take on epic proportions, causing a spiral of bad behavior. “When they occasionally fail,” says Laursen, “these people may adopt negative behaviors such as procrastination and perfectionism. ‘Impostors’ may also be less willing to present their work for evaluation, fearing that every time they do, they are at risk of being exposed.” And while some people are able to labor through these feelings and get on with the job, tactics for coping with these feelings can be helpful.
Because for many “impostors” there is a rift between their self-assessment and their actual abilities, Young encourages her clients to recognize that feeling incompetent and being incompetent are two different things. Paulene Clance encourages people to keep track of compliments and accept them, rather than blowing them off as empty praise. But one of the most effective tactics for combating the feelings of Imposter Syndrome is to simply recognize that other people feel the same way too, and to talk to them about it.
In academia, this can be daunting: not only are we are often in direct competition with our closest friends, but there is the concern that disclosing these feelings of inadequacy could be met with confirmation of our fears. As a result, we often suppress our anxieties, allowing them to fester rather than dissipate through open communication.
“We can’t peer into the minds of others and see that, ‘Wait a minute, everyone else is also just as mystified!’” says Justin Kruger, professor at New York University Stern School of Business, in the Science article. “So people need to make the effort to discuss their performance with their peers. When you discover that the people you admire (or fear) sometimes worry about their own achievements, it can give you perspective on your own anxieties.”
Clance developed a test for IS in her book, The Imposter Phenomenon: When Success Makes You Feel Like a Fake, to help individuals determine whether or not they have IS characteristics and, if so, to what extent they are suffering. The test is available for free on her website at www.paulineroseclance.com. In addition, the Minority Mentor Program (MMP) at CGU has held workshops in the past for dealing with these issues and is intimately acquainted with its manifestations and how to overcome them. For mentorship in this area (and others) contact the MMP at mmp.cgu.edu.
In the meantime, take solace in the fact that you have made it this far, and use the evidence of past success rather than fear of future failure as a guide to how things will pan out. Chances are that those feelings of inadequacy are just that—feelings.
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In the late days of summer in Claremont, the heat makes ripples above the pavement and we walk a little faster between shade trees—if we can rouse ourselves from our lassitude long enough to go anywhere. And yet a few days ago, Intrepid Editor Rachel and I found ourselves outside, at midday even, striding through the flora of the Claremont Colleges and peering eagerly up into every tree we passed. If you’re wondering what could shake us from our late-August stupor, well, it’s the only thing known to draw grad students at all hours of day and night from that sliver of space between their air conditioners and their computer screens: free food.
It started as a rumor, a whisper cropping up that a map existed showing the locations of the various fruits, nuts, and other edible plants on the campuses of the Claremont colleges. I thought we’d have to do some
clandestine maneuvering to get it. Who would just tell everyone where to find all this free produce? Clearly I’d have to be initiated into some secret group where I’d prove my worthiness by renouncing synthetic fibers and Doritos for all time and eternity.
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Fallen Fruit map is, in fact, shockingly easy to find, published online at www.claremont.edu, and conveniently printed on the back of this newsletter. It’s part of a Claremont Colleges sustainability initiative designed to educate the 7C community about the abundance of produce grown right here on our campuses. And get this: we’re supposed to pick the fruit. The people that grow it want us to (in moderation, of course).
Still sound a little nuts? Well, don’t worry: your fearless flâneuse and her editor headed out into the blazing heat to get to the heart of the matter. The pit, if you will. I think you’ll be pleased to hear it was a fruitful endeavor.
We started near the library, where we learned our first valuable lesson: the map doesn’t necessarily reflect recent construction—the southeast
side of the library, patches of CMC, and about half of Harvey Mudd come to mind. Also, you might need to venture into some of the seedier parts of campus (ever explored that pit between Mudd and the McAlister Center?), so follow the opposite of my example and wear sturdy shoes.
After the library we wandered through Scripps, which is beyond beautiful and will make you realize that everyone in the 1940s had much cooler nicknames than we do now. We found numerous fruits ripe for plucking—oranges, apples, pomegranates, apricots, and much more—and reader, I’m just going to tell you: if you’ve never eaten sun-warmed grapes right off the vine, well, I almost pity your barren life (cf: neener, neener.)
All told, we hunted fruits and herbs across four campuses, and it was just a tiny taste of what the map showed. The fruit really is free. The map was born from a desire that nothing should go to waste, so don’t be afraid to do your part. The main rules are common-sensical and have to do with being thoughtful members of our community: be respectful of property and plants, and don’t take more than you need. It is, after all, a shared resource, and one that will wilt quickly if pilfered without discretion.
Other than that, please, revel in the gloriousness that is free, fresh-off-the-tree, delicious fruit. It’s fun—and maybe a little habit-forming. (How else to explain my return from a run a week later triumphantly clutching what turned out to be a guava, harvested from a CMC wall?) Take some time to walk around. Get to know the other campuses. Be adventurous. Wade into a planter. Pick an orange, sit in the shade of the tree, and eat it right there. Come back for more. We did.
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