Piled Higher & Deeper: a grad student comic

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By Joshua Madden
A&E Editor

Every now and then we have the opportunity to add something new to The Baylor Lariat. When looking at different options for this coming year, one thing we really wanted to improve was the lack of content directed toward graduate students.

A Lariat reader suggested the comic featured here in the paper, “Piled Higher & Deeper” (PhD). Upon reading the comic ourselves, we realized instantly we had found something that could really work for the paper.

It’s a comic that is funny, but like many of the best comics, it is also insightful and provides commentary on what graduate student life can be like. Graduate student life is something difficult to understand until you’ve actually experienced it.

Jorge Cham, the creator of PhD, has experienced graduate student life and it is evident in his comics. He holds a doctorate (an actual Ph.D., not the comedic kind) from Stanford in mechanical engineering, so his academic merit is pretty much beyond question.

If you care to read more about Cham on the PhD Comics website, you’ll quickly realize that a lot of personal elements have been put into this comic. This is a comic written by someone who has been through the fire and who is making fun of life in a friendly-way.

The Baylor Lariat has probably been a little biased toward undergraduate students in the past, partially because they outnumber graduate students by large margin here on campus. However, as a graduate student myself, I understand the number of graduate students who read the paper on a daily basis and I’ve made it one of my goals for this semester to give them more content they’re interested in.

As I am in the process of beginning work on my own thesis, I find PhD to be incredibly relatable. At the same time, I think it applies to the whole college experience, not just graduate student life.

What undergraduate student hasn’t spent the night drinking coffee while furiously trying to finish a paper that should have been started months beforehand?

Architectural majors spend hours on end in their studios. Photography students spend hours taking pictures around campus. Journalism majors will likely spend hours on staff here at the Lariat. Language and linguistics majors spend hours learning languages and doing all sorts of things that the rest of us will probably never understand.

In this respect, PhD does not just apply to those of us who, well, may eventually get a Ph.D. It applies to every student at this school — we have all been in a situation where we watched helplessly as we found ourselves in piles of homework growing higher and deeper.

Great comics like “Peanuts” and even graphic novels like “Watchmen” say something about the human experience. PhD fits in that tradition. Anyone who has ever struggled to pass a class will find something to relate to in this comic.

I think PhD strikes a great balance of being directed toward graduate students but being applicable to everyone on campus, whether they’re worried about their dissertation or not. I’m proud of the fact that we’re now including it in the Baylor Lariat and I hope that you enjoy the comic as much as I do.

Are you happy about the inclusion of PhD in the A & E section? Is there something else you would like to see added? Let us know by emailing us at lariat@baylor.edu.