PhD Comps, According to Parks & Rec

Life news for those of you who haven’t been listening to me complain for the last several months: I just took my PhD comprehensive exam last Saturday. In my program, that means a six-hour essay exam on passages chosen at random from a massive reading list of the Greek and Latin canon. It was an exhausting process, but what better way to work through the emotions and fatigue than with Parks and Rec? Behold, my comps process:

Beginning of the Fall semester, knowing I have MONTHS to prepare:

want to not do things

Beginning of the Spring semester, realizing just how long the reading list actually is, and that three months is not enough time to read everything:

too much responsibility

Wondering why I decided a PhD was a good idea in the first place:

didn't think this through


yes but I don't want to

What encouragement from my family and friends is like:

brilliant talented musk ox

When professors expect me to do classwork in addition to preparing for the comps:



made an iphone.gif

When prospective graduate students visit and ask if I like what I’m doing:

I like saying no

Acknowledging the possibility of failure and being kicked out of graduate school:

this is a fun conversation

Trying to work on a Plan B if kicked out of graduate school:

0 percent sure what to do

Deciding that having to leave graduate school might not be so bad after all:


Trying to learn all the things while still being a decent human, having friends, getting enough sleep, keep up with classwork…:

super chill

Whenever someone tries to get me to care about anything other than comps:

not interested in caring

This exam justifies eating and drinking whatever I want, right?

treat yo self

Inevitable emotional breakdown:


Pep talk with my cohort:

because we're smart.gif

Spending Spring Break cramming for the exam:

everything hurts and I'm dying

One last moment of total despair:

I'm dead

Psyching myself up on the morning of the exam:


When your cohort members show up with Girl Scout Cookies and candy to get you through:


Finding a question on a topic I reviewed just two days ago:

andy oooooo

In the homestretch of the exam, no longer in possession of enough brain power to write the last essay:

not cranky

Finally turning in the exam:

need to lie down.gif

Time to celebrate! Nunc est bibendum!

party time

Second guessing everything I wrote the day after the exam:

completely flustered

Waiting for pass/fail results:

i want it now

It suddenly dawns on me that if I pass, I will have to write a dissertation:

too lazy and stupid to write

Comments are closed.

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: