SOC316 – PhD’s Guide to Teaching


There’s a lotta roles grad students play in the university, and one of them is being a teacher. So, we have a PhD’s Guide to Teaching today to help all of you newbies prepare for teaching in higher education. How do you format an in-person class vs. an online class? How long does a new course take to plan (HINT: A lot longer that you think!)? And why should you NOT friend your students on Pokemon Go? Tune in here to hear our 10 tips for teaching, and please stay safe and healthy out there!


PhD Guide, teaching, online teaching, higher education


Ten Tips to Teaching

  1. Establish a teaching philosophy. Think about those teachers that you loved and why you loved them and try to emulate those approaches.
  2. Reach out to previous professors/teachers of the class. Seriously, don’t hesitate. True educators should be willing to share their teaching materials.
  3. Prep ahead of time and don’t underestimate how much work goes into creating class content/lectures/PPTS/etc.
  4. Don’t overplan the syllabus and have some wiggle room to adjust your course to what your students are interested in.
  5. BUTTTTTT, if you’re teaching an online course be sure to keep a set schedule for students to follow.
  6. Keep track of time during class! You’d be surprised how long you can talk. Yes, you, you self-proclaimed “introvert-who-doesn’t-like-to-talk.”
  7. Decide on your class policies, and be consistent! Here’s a good resource on translating those policies in your syllabus.
  8. Stay professional!
    • Don’t friend your students on Facebook. Just don’t.
    • Dress professionally.
    • Walk that fine line between being nice and hip and cool versus strict and tough. 
  9. Don’t take teaching evals personally! There are a ton of op-eds and articles written about how problematic evals are, so check these out before you let them get to you:
  10. Learn your institutional resources! Your university likely has a center for teaching that you can ask for assistance. For example, here at UH we have the Center for Teaching Excellence that holds informative workshops like ‘how to deal with problem students’ or ‘how to get started teaching online’ or ‘how to manage a large classroom.’ Go to these workshops and hone your teaching craft! 
  11. Bonus tip: USE YOUR SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION and have empathy for your students’ situations (especially now that we’re in the COVID-19 era)! Maybe they’re working a full-time job to put themselves through college; Maybe they have family problems or mental health issues they are dealing with. Remember that students have lives of their own, and in the same way when you’re having a bad day and still have to show up to teach, students may be having a bad day and barely want to sit in class and learn about Marx. Check these resources out to get a better perspective:

SOC203- PhD’s Guide to Grad School Applications


We’re back with another PhD’s Guide on an important and timely topic: the graduate school application process! This week, we’re talking about the general do’s and do not’s when trying to impress those higher education programs to accept you as a worthy candidate. The tips provided in this episode are not specific to sociology departments, so you peeps of all academic persuasions (and even peeps with distant interests in grad school) TUNE IN, perhaps we can help!


Remember, heed only the advice that you think is appropriate. We’re just here to tell you our perspective, and our perspectives are never 100% correct all the time. This is YOUR academic journey, so you decide how you wanna do it! And we wish you the best of luck on this application journey!



phd guide, applications, graduate school

Some useful suggestions

  1. Application due dates run from late Fall to early Spring, so double check the dates for each institution that you apply to!
  2. When writing your statement of purpose, highlight 1 or 2 profs from the program you’re applying to that you’d like to work with
  3. Practice writing your statement of purpose. Carve out more time than necessary. Though short, these essay prompts are taken seriously! Rule #1 stay within the word limit. You’ll have plenty of time to write lengthy papers once you’re accepted, so keep it short and tight for now.
  4. If the university does interviews, PRACTICE! **Most programs will not require an interview but even going to the campus and introducing yourself to some faculty can separate you from the rest of the pack! So talk and walk with confidence. You have nothing to lose.
  5. Be aware of yourself. Don’t use grad school as a way to bide time. The amount of time and resources you’ll spend on an education that you’re not truly interested in is NOT worth it!
  6. Do not be stingy or picky–consider all sources of funding! $$$ is tight these days.

Email us if you have any other questions. This is an important time of year.


SOC201-PhD’s Guide to Time Management


That’s right, you read correctly! We are back for year 2, and we’re starting off with some useful tips on time management for those of us trying to shake off the summer and roll into Fall semester. Curious about how to keep up with all of that reading? Interested in some tips to stay on track with a big project? Well, we have some advice for you with this episode, and hope this topic will serve you well on your journey through graduate school and beyond! Just remember, you come first, so plan accordingly! Join us for the conversation and get your brains ready for some 200-level sociology. We’re glad to be back.


phd guide, time management


  1. Use a planner! Digital or analog. And here is an online planner as well!
    1. Bullet Journal method at
  2. Figure out your learning techniques. All the learning styles are important.
  3. If you don’t have a schedule, create your own schedule. Especially when you are in the later stages of your graduate studies and you’re not taking classes anymore. Gotta keep up a regiment! Consistency is key.
  4. Learn now to say NO! School is too overwhelming with all the classes and obligations (perceived and real). Be mindful of your time and space. Remember: quality of life
  5. Work backwards for big projects. Knowing how to plan accordingly and be aware that writers block, revisions, and life will get in the way. Be proactive in your lesson planning.
  6. Know how to active read! It will save you so much time. Remember Penn’s comments on Zotero. Use it!
  7. Use things like the Pomodoro technique to get through tough writer’s blocks or boring work
  8. Stay organized so you don’t do redundant things or lose stuff
  9. Sleep and eat well. Your health, mental and physical, matters. Graduate malaise is real!  
  10. TREAT YOURSELF…this is not only self explanatory, but also the most important!


SOC129-PhD’s Guide to Writing


Penn is very sorry that she messed up her recording for this episode. The quality is lower than usual, but we hope you can listen pass it and focus on the great content. This won’t happen again, Penn swears.


Here we are with another episode in our PhD’s guide series. This time we are discussing how to write, and how to do it well! Of course we cannot discuss all there need to know about writing, nor are we experts, but we do have some good tips and tricks for you to follow. Join us in our conversation on the DO’s and DON’Ts when it comes to writing, and perhaps we can help you a bit on your journey from mediocrity to a writing greatness!


phd guide, writing


  1. Our writing bible, Howard Becker’s (2007) “Writing for Social Scientists”
  2. Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers
  3. Joan Bolker, another sociology bible, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes A Day
  4. The FREE citation software: Zotero!
  5. 11 Rules of Grammar
  6. Short American Sociological Association citation guide

SOC120-A PhD’s Guide To Conferences


Conferences… A little awkward, pretty informative, and occasionally monotonous. They’re a fact of life for those of us in academia! This week we delve into what conferences are, why you should attend, some of the main sociology conferences, and most importantly some DOs and DON’Ts of going to conferences. Listen to our suggestions, and then let us know if we missed anything by Tweeting or Facebooking us @socbreakdown!


sociology, conferences, phd guide


Upcoming Conferences

  1. American Sociological Association, Aug 11-14
  2. Society for the Study of Social Problems, Aug 10-12
  3. Pacific Sociological Association, March 28-31
  4. Hawaii Sociological Association, Feb 24-25
  5. International Sociological Association’s “World Congress of Sociology”, July 15-21.

Why attend conferences?

  1. Schmoozing/Networking
  2. To learn new things!
  3. Meet your academic superstars
  4. To add to your CV/resume
  5. To get feedback from colleagues

Conference DOs

  1. Show up early and don’t make a ruckus!
  2. Practice your presentation at least 3 times!
  3. Sit in the front and ask questions!
  4. Make sure you have all your tech stuff set up if you’re doing a PPT! Have it on a thumbdrive, in your email, and on your computer.
  5. Breathe quietly plz. Thank you.
  6. Enjoy yourself! Explore the city/area where the conference is held, eat all the good food, and get drinks with fellow scholars! Balance work and play.

Conference DON’Ts

  1. Ask self-centered “questions”, where you’re really just bragging and not asking a question!
  2. Go over time! Respect your fellow panel members and your audience.
  3. Be shy or intimidated by other people, or the schools they come from! You are fabulous, worthy, and have something to contribute.
  4. Be a creep. Read the social cues!

SOC111 – A PhDer’s Guide to the PhD


A lot of what we talk on this podcast stem from our status as doctoral students (although Penn is finally a newly certified doctor!), but what exactly is a PhD? The PhD is the highest level of education that people usually don’t go for, and the job market for a PhD graduate is quite bleak. So why does anyone bother getting it? Join us this week as we talk story about our own reasons for pursuing a PhD and what PhDs actually do each day besides just thinking!


Sociology, phd, academia, higher education, grad school, graduate, doctoral, doctorate


  1. How universities are classified (Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education)
  2. Example process of submitting an article to an academic journal (Elsevier 2015)
  3. How to get published in an academic journal: top tips from editors (The Guardian 2015)
  4. Ph.D. Attrition: How Much Is Too Much? (The Chronicle of Higher Education 2013)
  5. a phd’s guide to the phd: why phd? (Living Sociologically 2017)
  6. Data Reveal a Rise in College Degrees Among Americans (The New York Times 2013)
  7. No college degree? That’s a growing hurdle to getting hired (Chicago Tribune 2016)
  8. Is a PhD the right option for you? (The Guardian 2012)
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