Some (real?) stories  

A Ph.D. student short story

One sunny day a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the weather. The day was so nice that the rabbit became careless, so a fox sneaked up to her and caught her. 

"I am going to eat you for lunch!", said the fox. 

"Wait!", replied the rabbit, "You should at least wait a few days." 

"Oh yeah? Why should I wait?" 

"Well, I am just finishing my Ph.D. thesis." 

"Hah, that's a stupid excuse. What is the title of your thesis anyway?" 

"I am writing my thesis on "The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves." 

"Are you crazy? I should eat you right now! Everybody knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit." 

"Not really, not according to my research. If you like, you can come to my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced, you can go ahead and have me for lunch." 

"You are really crazy!" But since the fox was curious and had nothing to lose, it went with the rabbit into its hole. The fox never came back out. 

A few days later, the rabbit was again taking a break from writing and sure enough, a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to eat her. 

"Wait!", yelled the rabbit,"You can't eat me right now." 

"And why might that be, you fuzzy appetizer?" 

"I am almost finished writing my Ph.D. thesis on 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.'" 

The wolf laughed so heard that it almost lost its hold on the rabbit. "Maybe I shouldn't eat you; you really are sick in the head, you might have something contagious," the wolf opined. 

"Come read for yourself; you can eat me after that if you disagree with my conclusions." So the wolf went to the rabbit's hole and never came out. 

The rabbit finished her thesis and was out celebrating in the lettuce fields. Another rabbit came by and asked, "What's up? You seem to be very happy.." 

"Yup, I just finished my dissertation." 

"Congratulations! What is it about?" 

"It's titled 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves'" 

"Are you sure? That doesn't sound right." 

"Oh yes, you should come over and read it for yourself." 

So they went together to the rabbit's hole. As they went in, the friend saw a typical graduate student's abode, albeit a rather messy one after writing a thesis. The computer with the the controversial dissertation was in one corner, on the right there was a pile of fox bones, on the left was a pile of wolf bones, and in the middle was a large, lip-licking lion. 

The moral of the story: 

The title of your dissertation doesn't matter. All that matters is who your thesis advisor is. 

A second Ph.D. student short story

A Ph.D. student, a post-doc, and a professor are walking through a city park and they find and antique oil lamp. They rub it and a genie comes out in a puff of smoke. 

The genie says, "I usually only grant three wishes, so I'll give each of you just one." 

"Me first! Me first!" says the Ph.D. student. "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat with a gorgeous supermodel."  

Poof! He's gone.  

"Me next! Me next!" says the post-doc. "I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with a beautiful celebrity."  

Poof! He's gone. 

"You're next," the genie says to the professor.  

The professor says, "I want those guys back in the lab after lunch." 

Ten reasons to do a Ph.D.

  1. It feels so good when it's over. Like a prisoner set free after five to ten years of hard labor, pushed out of the gates with one set of clothes and $10 in his pocket, a newly minted Ph.D. is given a new life. Never before, and never again, will you need to work so hard, for so long, for so little. 

  2. You want to please your third-grade teacher. I can finally face it: I was Mrs. Larson's love slave. I was ever attentive to the gentle curve of the chalk as it followed her graceful hand across the blackboard, and a lump formed in my throat each time I strained to bark the answer to her next puzzler. I hoped to marry her, until I realized that she would be 53 when I turned 18. Feeling spurned by this thought alone, I had only one alternative: I could earn her love by adding to her glory. I joined that legacy of forlorn little boys who live only to reflect her radiance. Shine on, Mrs. Larson, shine on! 

  3. You don't have to get a real job. What better excuse can you have to avoid making a living? When your friends talk to you about junk bonds or how they persuade more people to drink Coca-Cola, you can gush about how you are wresting the keys of life from nature's grubby little hands. You can tell them about the future that you and other scientist-geniuses are creating for them to live in. Remind them of the millions of lives that will be saved by your teasing of molecules, cells, and tissues. Sure, you're dirt poor, but you don't have to pay back your college loans as long as you stay in grad school! 

  4. You want to study the effects of prolonged stress upon aging. It's tough to find a better way to force the body and mind to decay so quickly. Federal guidelines prohibit treating volunteers like this for medical experiments. What better way is there to offer your body for science? 

  5. It's not a program of study, it's a lifestyle choice. Think about the freedom. No boring nine-to-five hours. You're on all the time! Where else can you get such a good deal on subsidized housing? You don't have to apologize about your furniture because, hey, you're a student! And how about that lab ambience that you enjoy during the day? The decor is so positively minimalist: so clean, so functional. If you're a medical researcher, don't forget those little cookouts behind the lab. Bring your own hibachi, but don't ask where the meat came from. 

  6. It will help you to save the world. This is a very good reason to get a Ph.D. in a biomedical field. If you just entered grad school or are about to enter for this reason, your timing couldn't be better. By December of 1999, when you receive letters explaining that you won't be getting your stipend checks because of the Y2K problem, wild-eyed men will be screaming and dragging wooden crosses across intersections in every major city. Students will be breaking into the observatory to get a good first glimpse of the mother ship. Your Internet connection will creep to a stop, since everyone will be shopping online for bomb shelters and guns. How will you save the world? Soon it will all be revealed. . . . 

  7. You meet the nicest people. Yes, going for a Ph.D. is one great party. You are constantly surrounded by jolly, relaxed people your age who frolic in the library, the classrooms, the labs. Kindly, parental professors gently guide you through the process, keeping their minds and hearts on your best interests. Department administrators, like wise admirals, chart your future and the future of your field with a keen eye on your own North Star. Wasn't it this way at your school? 

  8. It's a great way to pick up dates. It's so romantic. A moonlit night at the lab. Only you and your darling, your faces glowing in front of the hissing Bunsen burners. You nibble sushi together from a petri dish and sip wine from an Erlenmeyer flask. You whisper your latest readouts in each other's ears. The quiet hum of a centrifuge in the background is so scintillating! He touches your arm and you jump. It's ok, he assures you. We're in a P-3 containment facility. Before long, it's just you and the night. The rustle of clothing. The donning of latex gloves . . . 

  9. Your biochemistry professor is way cool. One of the best reasons to get a Ph.D.: you know so little about your professor that you think you can achieve all her imagined qualities by following in her footsteps. In this case, you can best enjoy your doctoral journey by never meeting with this person. Above all else, don't ask her to be your adviser. She should lie in the background of your unconscious, quietly smiling upon each tiny victory of your career. Just let her shake your hand at graduation. 

  10. You don't know what else to do. This is one of the best reasons to do a Ph.D., and it's the most popular one. Imagine your future as a deep, dark tunnel about 60 years long. How on earth are you going to fill all that time? Well, one way is to reduce the number of decisions you have to make by making one commitment that is so long that you can't even imagine what the end will be like. By the time you finish your Ph.D., new technologies will have sprouted, creating unimagined new civilizations, and millions upon millions of babies will have been born. Don't have to worry about planning for that future now, do you? See what a relief a Ph.D. program can be? 

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