Out of Print

Ah, that perpetual problem…  What do you wear as a graduate student?  Do you dress professionally?  Do you dress like your professors?  Do you dress like an undergraduate?  Or perhaps you wear some iteration in between?  Even The Chronicle has covered the topic (quite a few times, actually).

In any case, if you’re considering your wardrobe options for the weekend (or for the occasional library day)…  Have you heard of Out of Print Clothing?  They sell t-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, mugs, etc. featuring classic books. And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, for each shirt they sell, a book is donated to Books For Africa.  Here are a few of my favorites:


Clockwise from the top left: 1/2/3/4



This week is going to be pretty busy… as I will be attending and presenting at a conference!  Although I’ve attended education conferences as a teacher, there is a distinct difference between sitting in the back of a session and speaking in front of a session.  Anyway… I’m hoping that my presentations (mostly) go as planned.  Wish me luck!


Comic via PhD Comics

Packing for an Academic Conference

Hopefully you won’t find this to be too off topic…  I’m leaving for my very first academic conference on Saturday! And like many of you, I’ve put a bit of thought into what I want to wear.  Inspired by AcademicChic, as well as my own experience at education conferences and other professional events, here is my plan.

Unlike my current home in Minnesota (where we just got another snow storm), Weather.com has promised me a sunny high 60s to mid 70s week.  I am thrilled.  While there, I will be presenting twice, listening to lectures, touring New Orleans, attending a fancy-ish dinner, meeting old friends for coffee, watching a softball game in a local park, and hopefully, running with my M.A. program marathon buddy.

I really don’t enjoy checking luggage and in general try to mix and match when traveling as much as possible, so here is what I’m packing for a week-long trip:PackingList

  1. 1 pair of jeans (similar)
  2. 1 pair of cigarette pants that are as comfortable as leggings (same)
  3. 1 pair of charcoal grey dress pants (same)
  4. 1 black blazer (similar)
  5. 1 dress (similar)
  6. 1 sleeveless blouse (similar)
  7. 1 long-sleeved white blouse (similar)
  8. 1 striped t-shirt (same)
  9. 1 burgundy sweatshirt (same)
  10. 1 lemon yellow cardigan (similar)
  11. 1 pair of moccasins (same)
  12. 1 pair of black wedges (similar)
  13. 1 white scarf (similar)

For the plane ride there in the evening, I’m planning to wear my cigarette pants, burgundy sweatshirt, moccasins, and scarf.  All of those pieces are comfortable for the plane ride and the scarf can double as a blanket, if need be.

The first day I’ll be going to breakfast with a friend, running, and attending a softball game, so I’ll need to be comfortable and ready to walk.  I’m planning on wearing my jeans, striped shirt, yellow cardigan, and moccasins.

The second day is my first academic presentation ever and I’m feeling a bit nervous.  Hopefully my green dress, black blazer, and wedges will give me extra confidence.

The third day I will be sitting in sessions, but still want to look professional.  I’m planning to wear my grey dress pants, white blouse, and will bring my yellow cardigan in case I get cold.  I also have a colorful necklace to wear to make things more interesting.

The fourth day I will again be attending sessions all day and can be a bit more casual.  I want to wear something colorful and fun, so I’m planning to recycle my yellow cardigan and black cigarette pants, and wear it with my blue blouse and black wedges.  That night I have a more formal dinner event, so I’ll recycle my green dress and wedges and add a sparkly black belt and fun earrings.

The fifth day is my second academic presentation ever, so I’ll be dressing up again.  I plan to wear my grey dress pants, and recycle my blue blouse, black blazer, and black wedges.

On the final I will get up early and head to the airport after a whirlwind week.  I may recycle my entire plane outfit (don’t fix what isn’t broken), or, if I get bored, I may wear my jeans, white blouse, and moccasins.  But we’ll see…

A second cardigan may sneak into my bag… but that will most likely be all I bring!  What do you pack for conferences?  How long do you have to be gone before you’ll check a bag?  Any tips or tricks?

Pregnancy in Academia

Earlier this week, The New York Times blogger K.J. Dell’Antonia wrote “Pregnant Without a Policy in Graduate School”.  The author received a letter from a medical student whose pregnancy was viewed primarily as “a personal issue [she] was having”.  The author wrote,  “She’s wondering – and so am I – if her experience is typical of that of the pregnant graduate student, in medicine or anywhere else, and if set policies would benefit students or limit them”?

I was surprised that the author wondered at how typical these experiences were.  Although I have not been pregnant and in graduate school before (but hope to be at some point), I have many friends who have been.  Some were accommodated by understanding faculty members.  Others were not.  One friend, when announcing her pregnancy to our cohort was told by a faculty member, “Well, that will affect your academic career”.  Even at the same university, experiences with pregnancy in graduate school can vary widely by department.

But even those who have wonderful advisors and committees face challenges.  During pregnancy, it can be difficult to balance classes, graduate assistantships and other duties.  Although one commenter on Dell’Antonia’s blog post wrote that it was easy to take a leave of absence, that isn’t always the case.  Many graduate students are financially dependent on their assistantships and fellowships.  Going to graduate school is a job as much as it is a scholarly pursuit, and often students cannot afford to take a year off.

After pregnancy, it can be difficult to find adequate facilities to breast feed or pump.  Child care is expensive and not widely available.  Although a few universities subsidize childcare for its students, making it affordable, many times there are daunting waiting lists.  At my university, most students wait an upward of 18 months before then can enroll their children.  Some graduate students trade off child care duties with their spouses, taking independent studies or night classes to make their schedules more flexible.  Others rely on gracious extended family members to help them through.

Although some graduate students are able to make pregnancy work, many choose to wait indefinitely until they finish.  But with the tremendous time it takes to finish an M.A., a Ph.D., a DVM, an M.D. and then go on to residencies or post-doc positions, this can be a gamble.  All this to say – in response to Kell’Antonia’s post – yes, unfortunately, this pregnant graduate student’s situation is common.

So, what should be done?

Rachel Connelly and Kristen Ghodsee, authors of Professor Mommy outline strategies for up and coming scholars to balance work and family life.  Their book discusses everything from the best time to have children, to choosing the right institution, to going up for tenure as a mother.  Moreover, they recommend that women who have already been tenured work to change things on campuses – to work for better and less expensive childcare options; to allow for leaves of absence and for the tenure track to be stopped for a year to accommodate pregnancy; to create spaces for women to pump or breast feed; and so on.  In the collection of essays entitled Mama, PhD, edited by Elrena Evans and Miriam Peskowitz, women write of their experiences, and provide encouragement for women at all stages of their academic careers.  They too call for more sensitivity to pregnancy in academia.

Certainly the challenges faced by women in graduate school are not unique to them.  Working women face many of the same barriers.  But for me, all that signals is an even greater need for change.  For not only accommodation, but for acceptance and even – dare I say it – celebration of pregnant bodies in public spaces.

Surviving Graduate School

As someone still at the very beginning of her graduate career, at times (okay, a lot of the time) the expectations can be quite overwhelming.  Recently I was talking to an old friend and she asked, “How is school?  How is life?”  I laughed… “I think life and school are the same thing right now,” I replied.  Because that is how it feels.

Anyway, on days like today when it snowed 6″ overnight (and is still snowing) and the world still seems to be asleep when I leave my house at 6:45am, it’s nice to know that others have gone before me and have made it through.  And it’s nice to know that others are going through it right now and managing to make it work for them.  If you have a chance, Simply Bike has a great post on “tips for getting through graduate school”, and in general is a wonderful blogger who writes on academia, parenthood, biking, and life.

What encourages you to keep going?