If I knew then what I know now: Grad school edition
Last week, our talented Founder and CEO, Sarah Barton, wrote an excellent blog titled “If I knew then what I know now.” It’s all about learning from the lessons that take place between graduating from college and entering the “real world” in your 20s and early 30s.
For a lot of people, this time period might include trying out different jobs, traveling, or—in my case—graduate school. Today, this blog is all about if I knew then what I know now: graduate school edition.
When you feel uncertain about the next step in your life, graduate school might seem like a tempting choice. However, I’ve got to tell you, it’s often too hard to do it “just because.” Graduate school is not a placeholder; it’s a big-time life choice that will definitely shake things up.
Here are a few more things to consider when deciding if graduate school is right for you:
- Do you know where this next step will take you? Talk to students and faculty in the programs you’re considering. See what they’re doing and consider if you could see yourself doing something similar.
- Are you really, really excited about the program? As I mentioned, graduate school is too hard to do it as a placeholder. You’re going to need to really love what you’re doing in order to make it through the challenging times and do your best.
- Can you handle it financially? Some programs can add up to another $100,000 in loans. Others, however, can get you completely funded through teaching, research, or other work assistantships. Whatever you do, make sure it’s not going to be a stressful financial burden for you… unless, of course, you don’t mind that kind of thing.
Now, let’s get to the “if I knew then what I know now” part. I asked a few of my graduate school buddies this question and included some of their comments below. Post to our Facebook page any additions—or disagreements!—you might have.
- I should have waited a few years. I went to grad school right after I finished undergrad, and it wasn’t a great choice. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree and, as it turns out, I should have probably studied something different.
- I waited too long. When I got to graduate school, I had completely forgotten what it was like to read and write in such mass amounts. It took me five hours to write a five page paper that wasn’t even worth that much of my grade. I was just so nervous about it.
- My degree was too specific. I chose a degree that was limited to student affairs when I should have chosen something broader, such as school counseling. I’m probably not always going to work in higher education, and my options are somewhat limited because my degree didn’t have a wide enough scope.
- I initially felt like an imposter. Everyone seemed like they knew what they were doing, and I felt like I didn’t belong and that I wasn’t smart enough. After the first semester, I got ahold of myself and realized that I was chosen for the program for a reason. Now, I let that guide me.
- After grad school, I still didn’t know what I was going to do. My grad school experience was awesome because I grew emotionally and intellectually, and now I feel more connected to the world. However, I still needed to figure out the next step. Did I want to earn my PhD or jump back into the corporate world? Grad school gave me a boost, but it didn’t exactly help me figure out what I wanted to do next.
There are endless amounts of situations to consider when determining if graduate school is right for you. There are several AinA officers who have made these decisions and earned (or are earning!) their graduate degrees. Feel free to ask anyone in the community about their experiences. The more perspectives you have, the more equipped you’ll be to make the decision that’s right for you.
Post your thoughts on our Facebook page! www.facebook.com/accountableinaction