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Top 10 Things to Never Say to Your Thesis Advisor

10.  What do you mean, come into work?  It’s only noon.
9.  Actually, I think it’d be more appropriate for you to be my teaching assistant.
8.  Academia isn’t really the right path for me, because academia isn’t really the right path for anybody.
7.  “Results” is such a relative term.  Just like “progress” or “effort.”
6.  Isn’t this a hilarious picture of you drunk at the Department Holiday Party?  Your tenure review committee seemed to think so.
5.  Ooh, instead of writing a 200-page analytical dissertation, can I just write a haiku?  (Or, if you’re getting an MFA in poetry, “Ooh, instead of writing a haiku, can I just write a 200-page analytical dissertation?”)
4.  Your hyper-specific area of research sucks.
3.  I should have a computer like yours.  And an office like yours.  And is that a picture of your kids?  I should have them.
2.  Oh, you wrote the textbook?  What a piece of sh*t.
1.  And you are…


Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School

Comedian and molecular biologist Adam Ruben, author of the book Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School (Random House, 2010) is performing at grad schools across the country–and he wants your school to be next! Keep reading for more info about the book, the author, and the performance:


Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School shows the sadistic and often hypocritical world of post-baccalaureate education through grad students’ own bloodshot eyes. Perfect for those who lead lives “of the mind” (read: “of poverty”), grade illegible final exams penned by whiny undergrads, and spend lonely nights in the library or laboratory pursuing a transcendent truth that only six or seven people will ever care about, the book is complete with diagrams, charts, and line-drawings to offer everything from ready-made answers for oral exams to tips for sleeping upright during boring seminars.


Adam Ruben spent seven years at Johns Hopkins University earning his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. While there, he parlayed his healthy disdain for academia into a stand-up comedy act, which he has performed at clubs, colleges, and private venues across the country. For nine years, Adam has taught an undergraduate stand-up comedy class that has quickly become one of the most popular January “Intersession” courses at Johns Hopkins University. He writes the humor column “Experimental Error” in the otherwise respectable journal Science; he has also been seen and heard on the Food Network’s Food Detectives, the Science Channel’s Head Rush, and NPR’s All Things Considered. He will soon co-host the Discovery Channel’s new show, You Have Been Warned (premiering internationally in October 2012 and in the U.S. in early 2013).


For the past two years, Adam has traveled the country, giving a performance/reading/signing at grad schools, conferences, and other events, including Princeton, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Virginia Commonwealth University, U Penn, Penn State, UCSF, UC-Berkeley, Columbia, U Maryland, Tufts, Purdue, Stony Brook, Wake Forest, U Oklahoma, Syracuse, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Case Western, Catholic University, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, two National Association of Graduate and Professional Students conferences, the American Astronomical Society Conference, the keynote address at NYU’s “What Can You Be with a Ph.D.?” conference, the VIBes in Biosciences conference in Ghent, Belgium, and assorted book fairs, with upcoming performances planned at U Tennessee-Knoxville, Boston College, Florida International University, Arizona State, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The hour-long performance itself is part stand-up, part storytelling, and includes excerpts from the book (and, if a projector is available, a showing of Adam’s “Grad Student Rap” video, which was featured in the New York Times in July 2011). Following a question-and-answer session, Adam is available to sign books.


“A hilarious, and exquisitely thorough, rebuttal for every time your parents bring up ‘The G-Word.'” — Rob Kutner, writer, The Daily Show, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, author, Apocalypse How

“The academic world is so full of humorless wonks and pedants, that Ruben arrives like a crazed party-crasher. It’s as if a tweedy committee coma has been interrupted by someone from the roller derby. This very funny book also slings many sly arrows into an overstuffed and moribund culture that needs repair and reconfiguration.” — Compound Calico, Moderator,

“Adam Ruben’s book is funnier than even the funniest dissertation, thesis, lab report, or legal brief. I wish my law school casebooks had been 10% as enjoyable to read.” — Jeremy Blachman, author of Anonymous Lawyer

“Indispensable for any prospective grad student who wants to get a jump on his or her anxiety requirements. This book proves that years of obscure, excruciating academic toil can, in fact, make a meaningful contribution to society as a source of comedy.” — Jay Katsir, writer for The Colbert Report

“Why waste a few years in grad school when you can waste a few bucks on this hilarious and insightful book instead? You’ll end up with the same career prospects (zero), but have had a lot more fun.” — Jeff Kreisler, author of Get Rich Cheating

“Hilarious! Adam Ruben has nailed the graduate student experience, and has done it with a great sense of humor….this is a true survival guide for anyone foolish, er, ambitious enough to embark on an advanced degree.” — Dexter Holland, Grad School Sufferer and Sympathizer (Lead Singer, The Offspring)


You can contact Adam at

Adam’s web page:

The book’s Facebook Fan Page:

Top Ten Lies Told By Grad Students And Signs That You Are A Grad Student

From the Harvard Crimson:

10. It doesn’t bother me at all that my college roommate is making $80,000 a year on Wall Street.
9. I’d be delighted to proofread your book/chapter/article.
8. My work has a lot of practical importance.
7. I would never date an undergraduate.
6. Your latest article was so inspiring.
5. I turned down a lot of great job offers to come here.
4. I just have one more book to read and then I’ll start writing.
3. The department is giving me so much support.
2. My job prospects look really good.
1. No really, I’ll be out of here in only two more years.

You just might be a graduate student if…

…you can analyze the significance of appliances you cannot operate.
…your office is better decorated than your apartment.
…you have ever, as a folklore project, attempted to track the progress of your own joke across the Internet.
…you are startled to meet people who neither need nor want to read.
…you have ever brought a scholarly article to a bar.
…you rate coffee shops by the availability of outlets for your laptop.
…everything reminds you of something in your discipline.
…you have ever discussed academic matters at a sporting event.
…you have ever spent more than $50 on photocopying while researching a single paper.
…there is a microfilm reader in the library that you consider “yours.”
…you actually have a preference between microfilm and microfiche.
…you can tell the time of day by looking at the traffic flow at the library.
…you look forward to summers because you’re more productive without the distraction of classes.
…you regard ibuprofen as a vitamin.
…you consider all papers to be works in progress.
…professors don’t really care when you turn in work anymore.
…you find the bibliographies of books more interesting than the actual text.
…you have given up trying to keep your books organized and are now just trying to keep them all in the same general area.
…you have accepted guilt as an inherent feature of relaxation.
…you find yourself explaining to children that you are in “20th grade”.
…you start refering to stories like “Snow White et al.”
…you often wonder how long you can live on pasta without getting scurvy.
…you look forward to taking some time off to do laundry
…you have more photocopy cards than credit cards
…you wonder if APA style allows you to cite talking to yourself as “personal communication”

Stuff Graduate Students Say

Well the Simpsons At Least Had the Right Idea

Grad School Time Investment