Too late for this year’s syllabus, but perhaps in time for your holiday shopping, I found Gregory Colon Semenza’s wonderful book on how to thrive as a grad student in these difficult times. It came out in 2005, so before the current economic crisis, but it’s a very useful guide to some of the unspoken rules and norms of the profession, esp in terms of what you need to do when choosing an advisor, writing a seminar paper, going to conferences, and publishing articles. Not to mention things like teaching and service. It’s thorough, sane, and full of excellent insider information.
You may find Semenza’s standards high — he advises publishing at least two articles before finishing your doctoral degree, and establishing a daily routine of working at least 10 hours each weekday plus some extra hours on the weekends. He doesn’t seem to have to work toward rent or food while a grad student, perhaps because he lived in State College, not NYC. But I strongly recommend it for anyone uncertain about what professional goals grad students should be setting for their academic work.
I would think about assigning this book the next time I teach this class.