Spring semester at Michigan State ended two weeks ago. In the life of the university, it is thus summer. This means:

  • A lot less students! The hordes of students that one normally encounters driving, walking and biking through campus have all but disappeared. The average age of those on campus has increased by at least a decade, pointing to the presence of graduate students, staff, faculty and neighbours on campus.
  • Better Weather. While winter in Michigan is full of snow and darkness, summer is full of sun and warmth. Summer is for being outside and exercising, especially walking and biking. Even though summer means there’s finally room to park near one’s building, biking in definitely saves on parking costs.
  • Fewer classes. Undergraduates will take few, if any, classes. Graduate students tend to take a class or two, but it’s nothing like during the school year. Faculty (and graduate students) will generally be doing less teaching, leaving more time and energy for other things.
  • Extra time for research and writing. People have more freedom to focus on research in the summer, so the hope is that papers get written and submitted and one’s faculty advisors are less busy/stressed, albeit less often in the office.
  • Comprehensive exams. Even though comprehensive exams are a standard part of each PhD program, these can be quite stressful. People can and do fail, which puts a lot of strain on finishing up one’s program.

Pray that summer might be a blessing:

  • That it might be a time of rest and recuperation from the stress and busy-ness of the school year.
  • That there might be good opportunities to connect with others.
  • That there might be motivation and opportunity to work on extra projects.