I'd like to call attention to a great post by Cherish over at Faraday's Cage: The happiest grad students.
It's an interesting idea that the happiest grad students are employees elsewhere. Most grad students I know are the traditional sort for whom being a grad student is school and job. Most of them are jaded after a few years. In my office I'm surrounded by disparaging comments about classes, research, and academia in general. Most of us seem to look not to our jobs for satisfaction, but to everything else in our lives. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, our job as students seems more like a trial than professional fulfillment. If we can withstand several years, our vocational horizons broaden and we never have to go back.
I cannot speak to being a grad student while employed elsewhere because I have seen very few examples of that. Those I have seen have been at a distance. The students are rarely seen around the department. It seems nice, but I've never been sure if it is a grass-is-greener case. At least I'd have better pay and insurance (probably).
Do you agree with Cherish's assessment? Why?