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."