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REPLY TO STEARNS: SOME ACYNICAL ADVICE FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS
Raymond B. Huey
When Steve showed me the preliminary outline for his talk, my first response was to say,
"Steve, this is really cynical, even by your standards! You can't possibly present such a
negative view of graduate education." My second response was to draft an alternative outline,
which I intended as a direct challenge to Steve's, and which I presented after Steve so rashly
stormed out of Ecolunch.
A decade has passed since we performed that amusing skit. In transcribing our old outlines
into text, Steve and I have tried to preserve the intentionally argumentative, point-
counterpoint format and flavor of our original presentations. We do so, not because we
remain convinced that our old views are necessarily correct (I am pleased to note that Steve
now recants his views, at least in part), but because we want to emphasize a diversity of
views of how to be a graduate student.
Our main point is this: there is no one way to be a graduate student. Each of us is an
individual - each of us has individual needs, goals, capacities, and experiences. Advice that is
productive for one student may be disastrous for another. So think about these and other
views, but don't accept them without question.