I'm in my first year of a PhD at a UK university as part of a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) programme. I am part of a cohort of students, most of whom have come straight from an undergraduate degree and not had any "real-world" experience. I am half a decade older than them due to getting some life experience and working in teaching for a few years before realising where my academic interests lie and that I decided to give it another go.
I have realised that some of the students on my cohort are, to put it politely, not the sorts of people I would actively choose to work with. They may be very able STEM students with excellent academic credentials, but they have tendencies which are getting on my nerves and making them less pleasant to be around. These include:
- Giving correct but unhelpful advice - for example, one of my fellow students emphatically smacked a couple of equations she wrote on the board during a group project, and proceded to have a go at me for not working through them myself, rather than politely explaining how she got them
- Intellectual arrogance - for example, one student goes around, stands behind other students' computers and offers them assistance with their work regardless of whether they asked for it or not, almost as though trying to create an impression of omnipotence
- Resistance towards work of a different format to what students have been accustomed to in the past - for example, writing reports as opposed to doing problem sheets
- Expressing strong opinions almost in a way to try to attack my own
- Defeatist and entitled attitude - one student who has done poorly in his assignments takes a negative attitude towards work, constantly complains about it and tries to convince others why the work is a waste of time and why there is little to be gained from it.
I can't help but feel a bit despirited at these traits others are expressing, considering how I am rusty on some things having taken a gap from academia and yet asking some questions seems to lead to unnecessarily hostile responses. It is also despiriting to realise how much of a maturity gap there is between me and the other students, and (unlike in my previous job) I am not in a position of authority to reprimand them for their behaviour or place them on any sort of misconduct procedure.
How can I explain to these other students the effect that their behaviour is having on me, and improve my working relationship with them?