A shameless recapitulation of the brilliant post by Ben Rietema on April 4, 2017.


Welcome to the 1-800-GRADSCHOOL hotline. All calls are recorded for quality assurance purposes so that the administration may better serve you. Business hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You may press the [*] key at any time if you would like to be transferred to a different line that is exactly the same except with a different voice.

For work-life-balance, press [1]. For imposter syndrome, press [2]. For mental health crises, press [3]. For unlivable stipends, press [4]. For supervisors holding your final thesis hostage, press [5]. For dating advice, press [6]. For how to apply for jobs, press [7]. For inappropriate behavior from a colleague or supervisor, press [8]. If you meant to dial Marge’s Curry Shop for takeout, please hang up and dial 1-800-(472)-372-4666.



We do not support your attempt to have a life outside of graduate school. Please hold while we connect you to a tenured professor who can encourage you to idolize your career over friends and family…



Thank you for admitting that you are filled with the crippling fear of failure. We could say you aren’t alone, but we can’t on principle. Instead, we encourage you to hang up and call 1-800-(472)-372-4665.



We are purportedly sorry to hear that your mental health has been destroyed by the merciless expectations and deadlines associated with graduate school. You chose this life, however, so we advise you to try seeking therapy and/or psychiatric medication outside of the sixteen-hour workday. We do not recommend speaking to your supervisor.



We must remind you that we are an institution with innumerable operating expenses and a dedication to always increasing the salaries of high officials such as the President, the Board of Trustees, and the athletic coaches of our most successful division one sports programmes. As such, we have no room in our budget nor do we see any reason to increase the graduate stipend. After all, inflation means we have to spend more money, too.



Have you tried putting yourself in your supervisor’s shoes? The supervisor is most likely one of our star faculty members with a higher h-index than anyone else in the department. It is important we retain these star faculty for the prestige of our programmes, so we encourage you to recognize that your grunt labor for them is really grunt labor for us, and we would like to make sure we get as much out of you as possible before allowing you to limp away free.



It is not recommended you date anyone remotely related to your work—especially not anyone in your lab.



On average, you should have submitted at least 150 job applications. In the unlikely event you have made the foolish choice to pursue a career in industry, we recommend at least 300.



We as an institution sincerely regret that you have felt uncomfortable and we will be sending an email to you with official university letterhead that says the same so we can legally cover our asses with a sorry-not-sorry in the event anyone questions us. We do not endorse the use of the word “misconduct.” In the event you wish to make a complaint regarding a peer, we advise you to consider transferring to a different lab, PI, or school.



Oh, you’re still there? We’re sorry, but at this time we ask that you hang up and never speak about this to anyone ever again. And if you do bring it up, we will make sure to gaslight you.



We reiterate that we are not responsible for the alleged actions or comments made by anyone employed by the university. If you want justice, we can promise you a generous settlement that also waives the university of any and all alleged counts and permanently seals any associated legal or institutional records.


Despite repeated requests from the Michigan Attorney General, the Board of Trustees at Michigan State University withholds thousands of documents relating to former physician and convicted rapist Larry Nassar. These documents were requested as recently as March, 2021 and would have played a key role in the State’s litigation regarding the matter (not to be confused with litigation initiated by individuals). The Board of Trustees refused on the grounds of attorney-client privilege. Additionally, the Board of Trustees recently ousted the University’s president, Samuel Stanley Jr., after his dismissal of a faculty member from their position as a dean of the business school. Stanley had put the faculty member under scrutiny after a Title IX complaint that alleged the faculty member’s failure to report an instance of sexual misconduct. 

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