The Succinct Survival Guide To Avoid Going Into Grad School Blind

The Succinct Survival Guide To Avoid Going Into Grad School Blind

A brief survival guide on what to expect when getting your next level degree.

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OK so it's senior year, your break year, or you're deciding it's time to go back to school and you want to get a higher level degree. Here are a few pointers that will help prepare you for graduate studies that I had to encounter first hand. I went into grad school blind, but that doesn't mean you necessarily have to.

First and foremost, you're "special" now and by special, you are now part of the crew when it comes to interaction with faculty. You are no longer a student, but now a person trying to get deeper in the field, a colleague if you will. Don't be surprised if your professors start telling you to call them by their names or approach you out of the blue and ask what's up or literally make time to visit with you if you stop by their office. It's like Aladdin when it comes to exchanges with professors: "A whole new world."

Heading in to grad school like... Giphy

Secondly, it's worth mentioning the class size. Remember your senior year when you were waist deep in your field and all of a sudden, your thirty to sixty student classes started becoming anywhere from ten to twenty students and you started seeing the same ones over and over? Yeah well, you were being programmed and trained for grad school and instead of ten to twenty students, you're down to about eight so be prepared.

This, in turn, allows you closer instruction, building a tighter rapport with your instructors, and if this is a different set of people that you worked with for your bachelor's, a greater working relationship. Seeing as you'll be seeing a lot of them more than once during this period, they will learn your strengths and weaknesses all the while training and instructing you to be elevated farther in your field. You'll be close like Ms. Lippy and Billy in "Billy Madison."

Third, the graduate school produces a degree that will help you add dollars to that future salary. However, it's not easy and all sunshine and rainbows. After just going through my first fall in grad school, I can tell you it's double the work, double the effort, and double the time you have to put in. This, in turn, leads to sleepless nights, nights of aggravation, and yes trips that you'll have to make to a professor's office during office hours. Don't be surprised if you have to do this and never did as an undergrad. You're not alone in this regard.

Lastly, graduate school is fun and rewarding. As much as I have worked so far by giving up sleep, being stressed, and sometimes being completely aggravated during assignments, I could not ask for a better position to be in. My fellow students are incredible people that are working as hard as I am, and we are experiencing the same issues. My professors legitimately care about me and treat me as though I'm working with them.

These are great things and ultimately the sacrifices that I am making and have been making will lead to something greater — a master's degree. Keep in mind, I was on a break year with my bachelor's and found out that I needed to come back because there wasn't much out there for me. If you haven't considered grad school, you probably should. The rewards will outweigh the sacrifices and at the end of the day, you'll look back on graduate school with some of the memories of all of this and say, "I'm honestly really glad I did that."

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8 Things You Should Never Say To An Education Major

"Is your homework just a bunch of coloring?"
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Yes, I'm an Education major, and yes, I love it. Your opinion of the field won't change my mind about my future. If you ever happen to come across an Education major, make sure you steer clear of saying these things, or they might hold you in from recess.

1. "Is your homework just a bunch of coloring?"

Um, no, it's not. We write countless lesson plans and units, match standards and objectives, organize activities, differentiate for our students, study educational theories and principles, and write an insane amount of papers on top of all of that. Sometimes we do get to color though and I won't complain about that.

2. "Your major is so easy."

See above. Also, does anyone else pay tuition to have a full-time job during their last semester of college?

3. "It's not fair that you get summers off."

Are you jealous? Honestly though, we won't really get summers off. We'll probably have to find a second job during the summer, we'll need to keep planning, prepping our classroom, and organizing to get ready for the new school year.

4. “That's a good starter job."

Are you serious..? I'm not in this temporarily. This is my career choice and I intend to stick with it and make a difference.

5. “That must be a lot of fun."

Yes, it definitely is fun, but it's also a lot of hard work. We don't play games all day.

6. “Those who can't, teach."

Just ugh. Where would you be without your teachers who taught you everything you know?

7. “So, you're basically a babysitter."

I don't just monitor students, I teach them.

8. “You won't make a lot of money."

Ah yes, I'm well aware, thanks for reminding me. Teachers don't teach because of the salary, they teach because they enjoy working with students and making a positive impact in their lives.

Cover Image Credit: BinsAndLabels

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As A Graduate, When I Say 'I Miss College,' This Is What I Actually Mean

I do miss the friends I made, the roommates I had, the work I was proud of, and the classes I really did enjoy and participated in, but I mostly miss how these things made me feel.

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It's been almost a year since I have graduated and stepped into a new part of life, yet I still have some thoughts about how much I truly do miss being at school. When I say I miss college, most people respond with "Why" or "oh, you just miss the experience and the parties."

Fair enough, a decent question is really why would I ever miss a time where I stayed up all hours of the night reading books and writing papers while drinking god knows how many cups of coffee a day? Or to the second response, I only miss the parties and the fun times, not actual college. But while the experiences, people, and fun memories are a huge part of why I miss college so much, they aren't the only things I'm really thinking about.

When I say I miss college I mean I miss the way it made me feel.

Coming from a community college where I didn't leave my hometown or my usual group of friends, coming to a college like Rutgers University was something that truly blew my mind. I don't miss parties, I miss walking down the sidewalk to classes I generally enjoyed, surrounded by people I didn't know but definitely could. I do miss the friends I made, the roommates I had, the work I was proud of, and the classes I really did enjoy and participated in, but I mostly miss how these things made me feel.

Even though I was stressed out and tired, overall I was pretty happy to go out and learn and talk to people in my class that had similar ideas about a book or a topic. Even during the worst times, I was still able to feel free being on my own and was happy scheduling my own days for me. Even when I cried because of test anxiety on top of regular anxiety, I still miss the way the tiny breaks with friends or the most random but funny conversations that would happen at 2 a.m. made me feel better.

There's a lot that I miss about college and plenty of reasons why I would want to relive that time again.

For any students still living their college days, live it up! One day you'll miss those college days, the memories you made, and how you felt even during the times that you were stressed out. Take in every day so when you say you miss your college days, you won't just be talking about silly weekend parties.

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