When I began to job search after college, something didn’t feel quite right. I had always wanted a Masters degree and began to wonder why I hadn’t applied earlier. So I gathered as many study guides as I could and threw myself into a two week- long study sesh before I took the dreaded GRE.
I was accepted back to my alma mater and eventually became a graduate assistant. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot.
Besides the actual academic material, here’s what I learned in Grad School:
- Work smarter, not harder. In grad school the material is SO much more extensive than undergrad that talking through it with my classmates, even if they didn’t have all the answers, helped immensely. Reading material over and over and over trying to understand it just confused me more (especially in theory classes). We were able to figure it out and get ourselves together for class. Use time management and enjoy the world of constant multitasking. Hey, it’s a life skill, right?
- That all being said, you WILL have to work harder. Almost all the classes over my two- year program were discussion based. Those readings? Discussed. Current events? Discussed. Every question? Discussed! You can’t blend in if you don’t have anything to offer in class because you may be only one of four people in a 3 ½ hour class (yes, that happened). Grad school itself is a full time job; you’re better off if you know that going in.
- Nothing makes you feel smarter than finishing your thesis. During my third semester, I attended a seminar about thesis/ special project writing. INSTANT PANIC. Speakers were telling us that we should have already completed our research. As I looked around, I noticed everyone else’s panic. The point here is, if you’re “lucky” enough to have to write one of these bad boys, don’t let it drive you crazy. Everyone hypes up thesis writing and they’re right, it IS stressful and you may not have much of a social life for a little while but just do it. You’ll feel so much better when it’s done.
- Find time to schedule a break. With all the work I was doing, it was important to schedule time off from reading articles, writing, emailing concerning my work, etc. Having a continuous panic attack for the duration of your program isn’t healthy or productive. Slow down to make yourself a nice dinner one night, take a break to watch mindless television (totally Bravo for me) or schedule an activity to look forward to. Though it’s important to get the work done; it’s just as important to keep yourself sane.
- Finally, you will grow. (No, I’m not referring to the lack of time you’ll have to hit the gym- but that is also a valid point!) It’s hard to put into words the exact transformation but I feel good- really good- and smart! People say your life suddenly decreases after college, but I’m having the time of my life. Getting through a rigorous program is something to be proud of; don’t forget to remind yourself of that.
Bonus: In grad school, I was required to take the Morgan-Briggs Type Indicator. If you haven’t already, take it! Anyone who is reading this that took MN 550 with me is laughing but probably agreeing that it was helpful. This test helped me determine my own leadership styles, how others differ and how to work with people who have different MBTI preferences. I’m always game for some self- reflection and how to better yourself in working with others. You can’t take the actual test online but here is a similar assessment. After you determine your type, look it up. If you answer honestly, its creepily accurate.
I’ll be graduating this weekend and couldn’t be more excited. Real world, here I come!
Happy Friday, everyone!