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The Loneliness Factor: Conquering Isolation in Graduate School

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Academics working in isolation are often associated with the ivory tower of academia.  Social connections can be neglected due to the stress of publishing, research rabbit holes, and rigorous coursework. Often called “The Loneliness Factor,” this loneliness can pose serious problems for graduate students.

What causes loneliness to arise, then? A change in social circles is a common part of graduate programs. Undergraduates benefit from an established peer community, while graduate students are more likely to be part of smaller cohorts with a range of backgrounds and scientific interests. Furthermore, the intensity of the work may leave little energy or time for socializing.

Here are some ways to combat The Loneliness Factor:

  • Seek out your tribe: You don’t have to spend your entire graduate school career alone. Seek out classmates with comparable interests within your program or department. A feeling of community can be fostered through study groups, research collaborations, or even just getting coffee. Never hesitate to strike up a conversation and break the ice because you never know who else might be experiencing similar feelings.
  • Branch Out Beyond Academia: You don’t have to go through graduate school by yourself. Look for classmates in your program or department who share your interests. Collaborating on research, attending study groups, or even just getting coffee can all help to create a feeling of community. You never know who else might be feeling the same way, so never be afraid to introduce yourself and break the ice.
  • Embrace Online Communities: One effective tool for overcoming loneliness is the internet. Participate in graduate student-focused social media groups or online forums. Here, you can connect with people going through similar struggles, exchange stories, and ask questions.

Depression is real and it steams from loneliness, maximising helpful tips on how to navigate this phase is quite crucial.

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