Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School

Mariela Fernandez, Jill Sturts, Lauren N. Duffy, Lincoln R. Larson, Joey Gray, Gwynn M. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Graduate school is critical period of professional development in the lives of aspiring scholars, presenting a number of challenges and opportunities. Synthesizing insights from an online survey of individuals on The Academy of Leisure Sciences (TALS) listserv, a group of academics and professionals at various levels within the parks, recreation, tourism, and leisure field around the world, this article aimed to highlight these challenges and identity strategies for surviving and thriving during graduate school. The thematic analysis revealed five major themes. Challenges identified included juggling responsibilities, funding support, equity and institutional barriers, imposter syndrome, and finding the right job. Participants also highlighted some key strategies that could be employed to navigate challenges, including focus on and finish the dissertation, finding reliable mentors, cultivating professional networks, consider a transition job first, and be true to yourself. Doctoral students who heed this advice will not only be more likely to successfully complete graduate school, but they will also be better positioned for future success in an academic career.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalSCHOLE: A Journal of Leisure Studies and Recreation Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Doctoral degree
  • professional development
  • PhD
  • higher education
  • graduate school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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