Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten could be classified as “no duh” advice. You know, that advice that just makes so much sense and is so easy but for some reason, you’ve never actually done it. Like, “if you hang up your towels, then maybe your clothes won’t be damp” type of advice. My biggest “no duh” advice for graduate school is definitely “read your emails.”
“Well duh,” you might say, “who doesn’t read their emails? That’s the most common form of communication now! You can’t not read them.” To which I would respond, “True, but who reads ALL of their email?”
I guess that’s misleading, too. I don’t advocate wasting hours perusing the fine print of mass mailings from Old Navy, but taking the time to read every bit of the departmental emails or forwards is crucial. Again, I know this seems like serious “no duh” advice, but I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve talked to who say that they don’t bother reading those announcements and emails. I completely understand ““ there are a lot of them, they’re long, and up to 100% of the information provided could be totally useless to you.
But usually, something very good can come from actually reading those damn emails. I got started in some of my outreach work through those emails. I’ve attended seminars on topics that are right up my academic alley and other topics that are my intellectual oases, my happy places where thoughts run free and the pressure to produce publications is squelched. I get updates about my health plan and the counseling/stress management services offered. I get information about family fun days (which I don’t need) and writing seminars (which I do).
As the new semester or quarter starts, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the resources available on campus. It could significantly improve your academic experience. I’ve tapped in to whole new networks, opened up exciting collaborations and opportunities, and felt good about my academic trajectory while doing so, and all it took was reading those damn emails.
Do you, gentle readers, have any “no duh” advice that you’d like to share? What are you glad that you do? What do you wish you’d known earlier?