Poor public perception of grad students?

Feb 17 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

I came across the following video when a friend sent me the link.

via videosift.com

I thought it was pretty funny, but it got me thinking about the public perception of grad students and what they do. I realized that I can't think of many cases where grad students come across in a good light in the mass media. In movies, for instance, grad students either come off as malcontented jerks (e.g. Road Trip), obsequious (too many to name) or even murderers (88 minutes. FYI Pacino, you owe me 90 minutes of my life back you mailin-it-in MoFo). Even in movies that center around academic quirkiness, (Weird Science, Real Genius) grad students are portrayed as unsocial shut-ins or maladjusted individuals at the very least.

So, I wonder what the public perseption of grad students really is. What would someone on the street say if you asked them what they thought of when someone utters the phrase "graduate student". While college students are celebrated in hundreds of movies it seems as though grad students are seen as the extension of the high school AV club. So, WTF? Am I missing positive references to grad students? Are there any?

4 responses so far

  • Nat Blair says:

    Maybe Keanu Reeves in "Chain Reaction" where he plays a University of Chicago physics grad student. He basically saves the day somehow, from someone, who stole something. That's gotta be good, right?But, speaking as a U of C college alumnus, the very idea of Keanu Reeves as a U of C grad student, let alone a physics grad student, is laughable on its face.THough, I was there when they were filming the movie on campus. Some friends froze their asses off waiting around as extras. Meanwhile, one morning walking to our weekly Latin quiz (hic haec hoc, huius huius huius running through my brain), I looked over at some dude with a motorcycle helmet in his hand, and it was Keanu. I shrugged and hurried my way to more important things!

  • Dr. No says:

    Hhmmmm...When I was a grad student I recall being looked upon with pity (of the "look at the poor idealist" sort). Real Genius, holy shit! I hadn't thought about that movie in ages!

  • tideliar says:

    A story I wrote about this very issue...http://www.lablit.com/article/86

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    I think with science, there is a fundemental disconnect between the general public and what scientists do on a regular basis. But, I think that grad students, as a whole, tend to be viewed as society's odd balls. Not just science grad students.

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