Inconceivable! The Parallels of ‘The Princess Bride’ and Graduate School

It was a rough week at work, and so to pick myself up I watched one of the greatest films of all time, The Princess Bride (20th Century Fox 1987, Directed by Robert Reiner). While watching this beloved classic, the cogs in my brain began to turn when suddenly…

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The parallels between graduate school and The Princess Bride are uncanny…no… inconceivable!

1) There are members of your committee, or perhaps it’s your primary advisor, who believe they are the greatest mind to ever gift their field of research–and you best not forget it!

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2) Throughout your academic journey, you encounter many challenges and learn to navigate your way through higher education….but there are still plenty of unexpected surprises that knock you right off your feet.

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3) The battle of wits only intensifies throughout your graduate career; from qualifying exams to committee updates, it is a mine-field of questions from the faculty to test your academic gullibility.

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4) There may even come a time when you think about leaving…and that’s when your advisor reminds you of the even sadder world outside of academia:

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5) You advance as an established member of the lab and have seen it all from success to crushing failure. Yet be careful, as this can make you appear cynical to the newest cohort of graduate students, significant others, and family members:

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6) Through the darkest hours, your labmates are there to support and empathize with you. We’re all in the trenches of research waging war against ignorance.  Your labmates are also your biggest cheerleaders on the day of your thesis defense.

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7) You end up successfully defending, much to the surprise of your committee…

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8) Graduation Day! You’ve succeeded! Everyone looks ridiculous in academic robes, but you secretly enjoy all the pomp and circumstance.

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9) Finally! The degree is yours!!

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10)  At the end of the journey, you have the skills, knowledge, and confidence to finally say what’s been on your mind since your first day of grad school.

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