Snow Days as a PhD Student


Oh, snow days! I used to be so excited to have you, but now that I’m a PhD student, you just don’t bring the same joy. Within the last month and a half, North Carolina has experienced three bouts of snow and ice, resulting in numerous weather advisories, closings of businesses, and cancellations of school. While receiving my bachelor’s degree from UNC and being a resident of North Carolina for the last 11 years, I only can recall having one snow day…ever; however, the wintry weather that we have had just within these first couple months of 2014 has greatly impacted colleges and universities, causing numerous cancellations of undergrad and graduate classes as well as the closing of university offices.

After having our last snow day just yesterday, I can’t help but reminisce about the snow days I had as a child. Yes, it snowed a lot in Rochester, New York and we were well prepared with plows and salted roads, but on those few days when the snow fell just a little too fast and heavy, I could not wait to wake up, peek out the window, and turn on the news to look at the listing of school closings. As soon as I saw ‘Rochester Public Schools are closed’, pure happiness would take over me as I jumped back into my bed and, with a smile on my face, close my eyes and nestle my cheek into my pillow, thankful to have a day of relaxation. That’s far from how I see snow days now.

Here’s 10 ways snow days are different for PhD students:

  1. Instead of looking forward to sleeping the day away, you look forward to an extra hour of sleep, or if you are lucky, an afternoon nap.
  2. Instead of drinking hot chocolate while curled up on the couch, you’re drinking coffee or tea–not for the warmth, but for the caffeine, while hunched over your desk.
  3. Snow days used to mean an extra day to finish the homework assignment that was due that day–now, homework assignments are due the same day, snow or no snow
  4. You used to be excited to miss class–now you worry about catching up on missed material as much as your professor
  5. Sleep on snow days used to look like this:                    snowdaysleep                                                                                     Now it looks like this:                                                           image-1
  6. You used to enjoy going out to play in the snow–now, you may barely open the  blinds on the windows.
  7. Back in the day, ‘school is closed’ meant “no school today”–now ‘school is closed’ means “work from home”
  8. Instead of spending snow days playing video games, you now spend them sending emails
  9. Snow days used to be time to catch up on your favorite TV shows–now snow days are time to catch up on your readings                    image
  10. Instead of treating snow days as vacation days, you treat them as work days, using these opportunities to work even harder towards achieving your goals.

We must remember to take the time to enjoy these rare occasions. Although we are no longer children looking forward to time free from homework and class, we are human beings in need of time to recuperate and re-energize. So let’s recapture some of that snow-day joy as we continue to take steps closer to fulfilling and completing our doctoral education.


About Charity S. Watkins

After earning my MSW in May 2013 and completing the MSW/PhD Continuum Program, I am now a third-year PhD student. I am originally from Rochester, New York but I have lived in the Durham/Chapel Hill area since graduating from UNC with my bachelor's degree in sociology. My areas of interest include family dynamics, educational resilience, racial and socioeconomic disparities, and school-based interventions. Aside from studying, I enjoy exercising, listening to music, going to Chicago Line Dancing classes, and spending time with my husband and two dogs.
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