How to Navigate Grad School

So you have decided you want to try your hand at grad school? As a semi-graduate from a Masters Degree, I feel that I finally have the expertise to tell others about my experience (and those around me).


Here are a few things you need to be aware of:

Fellow Students: They will be just as confused as you are, especially when it comes to figuring out contracts, funding, conflicting office opinions. You may have lots of friends when you start grad school, but none are like your classmates because they will all be going through the same mental breakdowns as you.

Office Environment: you are not like the other students in your department but you are also not really faculty- which can make it hard to fit in.

The Department: I am a firm believer in that you make what you get out of your supervisor and the other resources in your department. However, in some cases, some supervisors are hard to deal with. They go missing for months, they don’t offer any support, or they offer too much.

Office Admin: they are able to do a lot for you, so make sure you make friends with them.

Thesis: you won’t want to start early, but you really should because last-minute writing sucks. The page number itself causes initial shock, but following a self-made timeline is the second.

Research: it won’t mean much, despite what you think when you are first asked to choose a thesis topic.

Graduating: You will be overqualified for the job market but underqualified for any PhD program.

Well, I hope this semi-sarcastic take on graduate school didn’t completely deter you from ever wanting to seek further education and if you are starting grad school I wish you luck!

B.

Grad School So Far

Hello again.

It has been a while since I have found myself inspired to write anything here. But as my first semester of grad school is wrapping up, I finally have something to say.

There have been many days where I am exhausted and I get home when it is dark out and day is over. There are days where I may not have to go to school at all. I have met and been able to study with six amazing new people and study under many more. I got the opportunity to write my major research paper with a professor who I sincerely respect and admire.

I drank too much alcohol, and too little water. I have made mistakes and procrastinated, but I also made amazing memories. I have a great family who stands behind me and supports me in the pursuit of knowledge and academia. I have begun a study in something I am extremely interested in, but equally know that in a few years it will be just another page in the book.

There are many different illnesses I have diagnosed myself with, and many days I was too sick to get out of bed. My diet got significantly worse, consisting almost entirely of ramen and instant rice.

My bank account is depleted, but my soul is full. For the nights spent at the cafe or the pub with friends, drinking lattes or chugging beers while marking papers and studying for classes.

Grad school has not diversified my existence, but made me more comfortable in the life I am living. In the stressful, high-paced environment I have found contentment, and I am ready for what is to come.

B.