‘Old School’ sayings that are so relevant for us PhD Students.

Although some of these quotes are old and (arguably) overused, the way I interpret them make them oh so relevant for the PhD journey.

“Pick your battles”

I think this is a motto that relates to so many aspects of my life: Home life, my conservation work, and most definitely my PhD work. Pick a different battle each day to focus on, and learn when to leave a battle unfought (whether that be small battles with other academics, with students, with your equipment, or with yourself).

“Everything happens for a reason”

This is an important thing to have in the back of your mind, sometimes I truly believe something happens because they universe planned it that way (whether these things be good or bad). However, equally as important is to not leave everything up to fate, always go after what you want.

“Give a person* a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to fish and they’ll eat forever”

Oh so relevant with a PhD, particularly with things like statistics or learning how to use equipment. Try to get people to show you how to learn a particular skill, not just giving you the answer.

“A person* who asks is a fool for five minutes. A person* who never asks is a fool for life”

I think this is important when in meetings, or conferences, or networking events. You may feel foolish for asking a question because you think you should know the answer, but you would be more foolish not asking and never learning.

“I never learned from a person* who agreed with me”

I have said it before, and I am sure I will say it again, PhDs are full of criticism, that is how scientists learn. You have to appreciate the feedback, rather than becoming defensive or upset.

“Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects”

Sometimes it is frustrating explaining what you believe is simple to others. This could include having to explain what a PhD is to friends and family. However it is important to remember that there are many ‘simple’ things that you have no idea about.

“Never stop learning”

This is obviously important. I am sure any academic or scientist will tell you they never ever stop learning, and hopefully you also never lose the passion to learn.



*I have changed ‘man’ to person, for obvious reasons.

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