I’m about to finish my first semester of grad school, which means I’m currently drowning in group projects and papers. Throughout all of this, I have tried to interact with other people who are not in grad school in order to keep my sanity. However, I found there are five things that will send most grad students into a screaming rant or cause them to just cry into a bowl of chips.
1. “How’s grad school going?”
Basic, yet complicated. This question will either cause us to complain about the amount of papers we still need to write, the fact that we read more than 300 pages for one class last night, or we will just slap you without saying anything. Actually, that last one will tell you all you need to know about how grad school is going.
2. “Why do you never go out with us on the weekends?”
Okay, we have a lot to do. Not only do we have classes that usually span about three hours each, but we also have papers to write for those classes, on top of weekly readings and presentations, topic discussions, and professional development seminars or conferences. For the lucky few of us who have a graduate assistantship or a teaching assistantship, that means we also have to clock in about 20 hours a week for that job that, let’s face it, is more like 60 hours a week because we are essentially working a full-time job. So, sorry we couldn’t go out and drink Friday night. We had a lot to do.
3. “Don’t you only have to take three classes?”
This one will lead to a slap about 91 percent of the time. Yes, usually a full-time grad student takes three classes, which is about nine credit hours, depending on your program. However, this is not undergrad. Our classes ask a lot more out of us and we are constantly engaged in the reading, research, and projects. While the credits may sound equal, you should view undergrad as a little league baseball team and graduate school as a major league team where coaches understand if you need to take steroids.
4. “Why are you in graduate school?”
This one usually leaves us baffled or will lead to the crying I talked about earlier. We have a general reason for going to grad school, but when you’re eating mints for breakfast and scheduling yet another 14-hour day full of classes, work, meetings, and research, you ask yourself that same question. Most of the time, we are in graduate school because we want to be a professor, we want to avoid the real world, or our future career requires an advanced degree. Sometimes we forget these things, so please don’t ask us this question.
5. “I’m thinking of going to graduate school. Is it fun?”
Grad school is an uphill battle where the only light at the end of the tunnel is reminding yourself you will (or should) be out in two years. If you love your program and you love your future career, then yes, grad school is a nerdy kind of fun, where finishing a paper is like chugging a 12-pack and not throwing up. However, it’s difficult and will have you question yourself, your future, and your sanity. So, if you want to go, then go for it. If you want to avoid the real world by going, then I’d recommend taking a stab at the real world, because it’s a lot easier than graduate school. Trust me..