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A 7-Point Guide To Surviving Academic Hazing During Your Ph.D.

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

As an undergraduate, you probably thought that the hazing process was quite simple. You'd get picked on by your professors and peers for a few weeks or months, then graduate with the rest of your class. But that's not exactly how it works at grad school. When you're in grad school, everyone around you is just as smart and competitive as you are.

And because no one wants to be left behind, there's no room for slacking off or taking things casually. If you don’t keep up with your thesis and supervisor’s expectations, you may be subjected to academic hazing, resulting in delayed graduation and a hectic workload.

Mandal (2019) mentions that a study involving 5,700 Ph.D. students, revealed that 20 percent of the respondents were “overwhelmed” with the course and research work which have led to stress and anxiety.

How to Survive Academic Hazing?

You’ve been accepted to the grad program of your dreams. Now, you have to survive academic hazing from fellow students and professors alike. Here are a few tips for making it through your Ph.D. with no damage done to your GPA or psyche!

1. Set Clear Academic Goals

Pursuing a Ph.D. program without setting clear academic goals is a huge risk and a challenge in itself. If you don’t have a clear path about what you want to achieve during your Ph.D., anyone, especially your supervisor or seniors, can misguide you and change the direction of your research according to their own interests.

So, follow the tips below to set clear academic goals at the early stages of your Ph.D. to avoid falling a victim to academic hazing

  1. Identify the key ideas in your research proposal. Make sure you have a clear idea of what is most important about your work; this will be the focus of your paper.

  2. Write down all of your research questions, but make sure they relate to the key ideas.

  3. Create a checklist of all the things you want to include in your paper (methods, results, discussion). Do not worry about how you will present them; just get them on paper.

2. Prioritize Your Career Goals

A Ph.D. program is more than just courses and research. It’s also about the academic career that you build for yourself. Most of the scholars who get academically hazed during their Ph.D. are the ones who do not have a clear career objective for themselves, so they can be easily manipulated by others.

To avoid such a situation, develop a long-term plan for what you want to do after graduation. There are so many things you have to consider, including publications, conferences, workshops, teaching experience, and so on. Researching these things ahead of time will seem overwhelming at first, but will help you avoid problems down the line.

(Boud & Lee, 2009; Cryer, 2003; Dunleavy, 2003; Evans & Kamler, 2005; Golde, 2007; Philips & Pugh, 2003; Taylor & Beasley, 2005) Caring supervision of Ph.D. thesis has its own special features and presents a more student-centered approach than for example the concept of efficient supervision.

3. Select Your Supervisor Wisely

In the time that you are a Ph.D. student, you will have several supervisors, each one focusing on a different area of your studies. In the beginning, they will all seem very similar. However, as time goes by, you will begin to see their strengths and weaknesses for yourself.

As a Ph.D. student who is constantly thinking about their progress and future career opportunities, it is important that you choose a supervisor who fits your needs. That means a supervisor who shares your vision for your Ph.D. project and can support you throughout your studies. Such a supervisor is way less likely to subject you to academic hazing, as he would understand your academic needs. A good relationship with your supervisor is the foundation upon which all other aspects of your research and thesis lies.

4. Meet With Your Supervisor Frequently

When you are pursuing a Ph.D., it’s absolutely crucial that you meet with your supervisor regularly to save yourself from academic hazing. In fact, the meeting frequency is a good indication of how well you’re going in your Ph.D. studies and are less likely to be hazed academically.

If you have a meeting once a month, it means that you aren’t following the program properly. As a result, your supervisor may further delay your thesis approval due to the lack of follow-ups from your side. On the other hand, if you’re meeting every day or every week, it means that your progress is great, and you can expect to submit your dissertation proposal within two months from now.

5. Plan, Organize and Execute

When people think of a Ph.D., they often think of a grueling regimen of research, experiments, and writing. In actuality, there is a lot more to planning a Ph.D. than simply writing a proposal and finding a supervisor. Planning your thesis is not an easy job. No matter how well you know your topic, writing a good thesis requires a lot of time and effort.

You have to do a lot of research, organize your ideas, and write a paper that will be accepted by your advisor and committee members. This whole process seems like academic hazing when your efforts get devalued constantly, and you have to repeat the same cycle over and over again.

Making a carefully planned schedule will help you keep track of your progress and easily finish the task without getting stuck in the middle of your thesis. Decide how you’re going to approach your experiment and what tools you’ll be using to achieve your goals. Discuss it with your supervisor and get them approved. This way, both you and your supervisors will know the direction of your research beforehand and your chances of being hazed will be minimal.

6. Seek Professional Help

Ph.D. students are often working too hard and may find it difficult to take care of themselves or their families. It is possible that they are not getting enough sleep or are unable to exercise. This results in stress, which can affect their productivity.

According to Cheeky Scientist (2020), feeling stressed and anxious is not a weakness, but rather a medical condition that demands help.

It might be tempting for them to think that they have to do everything on their own, and it's the biggest reason for feeling academically hazed. However, it is important for Ph.D. students to take advantage of the resources available to them, including professional help if needed.

There are many reasons why Ph.D. students might consider applying for professional help but generally falls into two categories.

  1. To improve on specific skills that are not being adequately taught by supervisors or fellow students.

  2. To give you the extra boost of confidence that you need to complete your thesis successfully.

Scholars Professional Editing Group LLC is one such platform that can provide all types of professional help including Dissertation Editing, Data Analysis, Mentorship & Coaching to scholars, so they don’t have to overburden themselves to get their degree.

7. Get Help From The Scholar Team

Doctoral Boot camps and 1-on-1 coaching and mentorship programs are a good way to get exposure during the Ph.D. and avoid academic hazing.

They are also good for when you are in between jobs or in transition when you need an outlet for your dissertation and want to make sure you keep your writing skills sharp. Such programs can help define your career path in terms of research areas, skill sets, and even networking opportunities and lower the chances of hazing as well.

Now you must be thinking about where you could find such an amazing program. If so, here’s one just right for you:


It can be a nerve-wracking experience to enter a new environment, especially when it’s filled with people who have been there since freshmen year. Our guide to surviving academic hazing should help you find some new ways to get through your Ph.D. years while avoiding the mistakes that so many others have made in their time.

Find Support Through 1-on-1 Coaching & Mentorship:

Scholars Professional Editing Group LLC has developed a 1-on-1 coaching and mentorship program that includes not only dissertation writing support BUT mindset sessions that reverse the psychological effects of the doctoral process and help you to have clarity, deep relaxation, and focus so that you can clearly write your dissertation without the subconscious blocks. If you have any questions or require other sorts of assistance, please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below or reach out to us.

Get in Touch with Scholars Professional Editing Group LLC:

Email Us:

Contact Us: (302) 295-4953




  1. Mandal, Ananya (2019). PhDs riddled with more stress than students can handle says study, Retrieved from [], accessed on December 18, 2020.

  2. Cheeky Scientist, (2020). 7 Ways PhD Students and Academics Can Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Depression, Retrieved from [], accessed on December 20, 2020.

  3. Boud, D., & Lee, A. (Eds.) (2009). Changing practices of doctoral education. London and New York: Routledge.

  4. Cryer, R. (2003). The research student’s guide to success. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

  5. Evans, T., & Kamler, B. (2005). The need for counter-scrutiny: Taking a broad view of doctoral education research. Higher Education Research and Development, 24(2), 115-118.

  6. Golde, C. M. (2007). Signature pedagogies in doctoral education: are they adaptable for the preparation of education researches. Educational Researcher, 36(6), 344-351.

  7. Taylor, S., & Beasley, N. (2005). Handbook for doctoral supervisors. London and New York: Routledge.

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