Whether you’re considering grad school or have already decided to attend, you have probably been wondering what it’s really like. Now that we are more than half way through the semester, I’ve seen the differences between undergraduate and graduate life. Those of you in grad school right now will probably agree. For those of you who have yet to experience grad school – you can thank me later for the warning ;)
When it comes to school spirit, your undergrad life tends to revolve around spreading the school spirit. You go to hockey games, participate in homecoming weekend, and various events around campus. In graduate school we have come used to saying “we don’t have time for that!” Your school spirit is shown through yelling “go cardinals” as you race by a group of basketball players in the hall, since you are 10 minutes late for a meeting. Sometimes, you may not even know what your school colors are. All you know is one is light and one is dark!
Social life in undergrad consisted of going downtown every weekend, lunch dates and slumber parties. In graduate school, the only social life you have is with your computer and on social media. If you do happen to have a slumber party, it is with your lab partner and you two have mistakenly fallen asleep on the floor of your room with your computer screen flashing at you.
The feeling you get walking out of a meeting with your academic advisor as an undergrad is phenomenal. You feel like you can touch the sky. You’re moving forward in your program. Classes are being checked off as completed. You are almost there. In graduate school, your progress meetings can really test your ability to accept feedback; constructive feedback that it. (Click here for a great one page resource about accepting positive and negative feedback.)
Coffee, oh coffee! Yes, your undergraduate life is full of coffee. Different kinds of coffee to be exact. You try pumpkin on Monday, a latte on Tuesday, Wednesday is hot, Thursday it’s iced and Friday has whip cream all over it! BUT, in graduate school it’s Monday through Sunday, XXL, dark, two espresso shots for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
So yea, I am not going to lie and won’t sugar coat this – graduate school is a LOT different from your undergraduate experience. Thursday is once again a weeknight. Your text books are bigger than ever. You are expected to read them.
But this is a whole new level of learning, so why wouldn’t it be harder, more time consuming, and stressful? Despite everything being a little less fun and a little more exhausting, I still believe it’s totally worth it. I’m being challenged and learning so much everyday, and in the end will have a valuable degree in my hands… after a couple more cups of coffee.