So, are you thinking about pursuing a Graduate Degree? Let me be the first to tell you - DON'T DO IT! Pursuing a graduate degree was probably the most stressful time of my life, and I would say I'm not the only person who feels like this. Graduate School was time consuming, writing papers every weekend, grey hair at 25, and binge eating on Sundays - Horrible right? Well, why did everyone push me to pursue this awful experience?
Graduate School was full of surprises for me, so I am here to help you! Here are FIVE things nobody told me about Grad School...
1. Full Time is considered taking three classes. Now, I know what you're thinking - three classes, that's it? I'll take six to make it a breeze! Umm, no you will not! Listen to your advisors and peers. Graduate School is about time management, work/social life balance, and experience. Remember your Freshman year of College? The one semester you enrolled in an 8am class? Well, yes, take that experience and apply it! Unless you are going to Medical or Law School, take the recommended course load - Don't over do yourself!
2. Ice Breakers will become your new bff! Sure some ice breaker activities are awkwardly weird, but they will help you appreciate the other young professionals in your classes. Remember, majority of your peers will be older, seasoned, in the field professionals - you are a "kid" to them and often times they will treat you as such. At the beginning of the semester, those ice breakers will alleviate the tension and help to show your maturity (hopefully).
3. NETWORK. During my undergraduate years, I participated in every activity and knew pretty much everyone on campus - Professors, Students, Staff,Security, and everyone in between. Those networking skills that were inherent in my personality became my biggest blessing in Grad School. The odds of meeting and having personal conversations with some of the best and brightest in your field, will only happen far and few between - so take advantage of your professors and professional contacts! You may need them for your first job, recommendation letter, or even a shoulder to vent - so cultivate those relationships and watch them grow!
4. Take Initiative. Even if you were the brightest undergrad student, plan to step everything you did before up several notches! Graduate Studies are about elevation and learning to think outside of the norm. Now that you're a grad student, you are an expert in your field. Take initiative to research and find new and innovative ways to expand the field. Remember. you chose this field for a reason. Now it's your time to contribute to it!
5. Relax! No seriously, relaxation will get you through. Go for drinks with your classmates. Join a yoga class. Enjoy your family. While in Grad School it is imperative that you still maintain a sense of normalcy or a semi-social life. Let's think about a few things: Most of your time will be spent studying theories and historical facts - so naturally, your conversations will gravitate towards your academic interests. Taking a break, will help to balance the academic world versus your personal reality.
So, is Graduate School as bad as they say? No way! Yes, I was stressed at some points, felt awkward in front of my peers, and didn't take networking opportunities when they were presented, but in the end it was all worth it! If you are even considering Graduate School - JUST DO IT! All I suggest is that you are prepared, organized, and open minded!