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Saturday, September 22, 2012

5 Grad School Observations

You are not in college

You are not an undergraduate anymore.  Undergraduates suck and you do not suck, as much.  If you’re at a state school, undergrads flock by the hundreds, clogging up roads, sidewalks, bars, libraries, and gene pools while never taking their eyes from their phones.  Most of the time, it won't even seem like they have anywhere to go.  Maybe they just walk around for hours in circles, checking their facebook walls.  You will run into some.  It’s not your fault.

It might be wrong to refer to them as a plague, but is it inaccurate?

Free food is better than not free food

This is one truism that remains from college, only amplified.  In college, you had a pre-purchased meal plan paid for by scholarships or loans that you wouldn’t have to worry about until you were out of school.  In grad school it’s just you and the measly stipend they throw at you at the end of every month, if that.  Learn where and when the free food is on campus, or make friends with someone who does.  Also, lose your shame.

Everyone is smarter than you now

Getting into grad school probably made you feel pretty smart.  Attending grad school will make you feel pretty dumb.  You realize that your undergrad professors who made their profession seem so attainable were really just holding back, and they were pretty smart to begin with.  You realize this because many of them have already done everything that you’re now expected to do.  Your classmates will bemoan the same sentiments, but then rattle off the most insightful analysis of bunch of books that you've only vaguely heard of before.  Then they’ll tell you they already have their thesis picked out and are working on it, but really, they're so behind.  You will feel dumb, like really dumb. 

You are not in college: part II

As an undergrad you might have made weekend plans, gone out on certain nights, were involved with other activities, but in grad school you read and then read some more and then write about that.  And then you do it again.  Actually, as a grad school student, you should be doing all of those things too.  Going out to the bar to have a drink with some folks, watching a movie, with people, you know, stuff that reminds you that you're actually still human despite being expected to robotically churn out work at a furious pace.  As long as you can learn to become efficient with your work load (not this guy) then you can be a grad student with some semblance of an actual life.  Otherwise, you'll drive yourself insane.  Don’t drive yourself insane. 

It will all be worth it in the end

But when does it end and where?  And define "worth it". 

In my last post I may have inferred that now in grad school, I should/ would be more diligent in posting.  Mistake. 

The work load is definitely a factor—it’s a big factor—but perhaps more important is the kind of writing that I’m doing in this blog.  It’s lazy, conversational—enjoyable—but sloppy and not the kind of writing that I should be focusing on.  In future posts, whenever those are, I’ll try to step it up.  That’s my promise to you, the reader!


  1. When I got my Master's at Pitt, I learned that it was all about swallowing your pride, forming relationships, putting yourself on the line, focus, efficiency, and coffee... lots of coffee.

  2. "Everyone is smarter than you now." Seems so contradictory, but it's true for everyone.

  3. Welcome to my undergrad experience. It will get better, probably.


  4. Just come live with us! You can stay on our Futon!

  5. Thanks all for your comments, an I apologize for ignoring them for as long as I have. Bad blogger, bad! But turns out all I needed was a week off and a staggering desire to avoid other assignments to get started again--hurray!