Apparently someone landed on my blog because of a search for grad school and feelings. What a great writing prompt. So here are my feelings about grad school.
The first thing that comes to mind is a quote from the head of the Career Services department at my school. He said this to me and the rest of the group listening to his session during the open house for the grad school. This was of course when I was still a perspective student. He asked the group to consider “If I waived a magic wand and you already had your Master’s, what would it do for you?”
Now, he asked this question because an older woman in the crowd was basically hinting that she was interested in one of the programs because she was hoping having her Masters would help save her failing freelance business. However, I really think it’s a very important question everyone should ask themselves before going to grad school. If you’re going to invest all this time and money, what do you think it will do for you? What is your end game? If you can clearly see that road, absolutely apply!
Next, someone with their Masters is not smarter than anyone else, they are not a better person, and they don’t necessarily deserve more out of life. However, from what I’ve seen – someone working towards their Masters does need to be driven, goal oriented, and good at balancing time. Or they just graduated from undergrad and don’t want move into the “real world” yet. There are a lot of those. Oh, they also need to love what they are studying. If you don’t have a passion for what you’re learning, why are you there? It’s not worth it!
At some point while you’re there, grad school will make you feel dumb (at least dumber than everyone around you). Grad school will make you feel tired and overwhelmed. Grad school will make you cry (if you’re not a crier, it will bring you to however you release your stress). However, grad school should also excite you (see comment about passion above). Hopefully, you should also find some really awesome people (you’ll also find some douche bags and nincompoops too… but you’re there for the cool ones). I have personally found that I love a lot of the people in my classes. They inspire me, they understand me, they challenge me, and they make me laugh.
On a personal level, I also lucked out with having the most amazing professor on the planet and I adore her. Yes, I’ve had one I don’t like, and I’ve had a few ok ones as well. But my experience was mostly molded by Professor Awesome.
I first decided to apply to grad school because I realized that I wasn’t in love with my day job and I was living for the few hours per night where I got paid a few dollars for hobby. I realized I shouldn’t hate 50 hours per week and live for 10 hours. So I applied to grad school and put myself on a path towards “living the dream.” I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I love grad school and I’m very glad I chose to go. I’m tired and stressed and busy all the time. But I’m also loving it. I reference things that I’ve learned there all the time in my every day life.
It’s certainly not for everyone and you should strongly consider your goals before you start. But it can also be wonderful and life changing.