The Graduate School Experience
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The Graduate School Experience

A challenge, but an experience well worth the time and effort

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The Graduate School Experience
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College was a great experience for me, so much that I decided to pursue a Master’s degree. At the time of graduation and GRE prepping, this seemed like the right decision to do. It wasn’t about the potential of making more money; that was just an extra perk. The decision to continue my college education stemmed from the fact that I didn’t feel like I had prepared myself enough for the real world.

I obtained my degree in Communication, but I had no internships up until this past summer and I was finding out just how difficult it was to get a job when you don’t have much experience.

All of this took place after I found out that I had been accepted into graduate school at Texas A&M in Sports Management. I couldn’t wait to get started and see what I would learn and how the experience would change me. Needless to say, in one year, my entire scope on life changed for the better.

Like every first day of classes in college, everyone is a stranger. The first day was spent introducing ourselves three times to our colleagues, most of whom attended other schools for their undergrad.

Eventually by week three or four, everyone knew everybody’s name and we created a text group so we could help each other out. Boy, did we need it. The amount of work in graduate school is not hard, just tedious. You have to truly put your heart and soul into a project or test, and any method you used in undergrad almost becomes obsolete. You do have regular exams, but the professors decide on the nature of the questions (i.e., True/False, application questions, short answer, etc.) Most of the time, you are working in groups on a project that requires hours of researching on top of hours of preparation to present. Luckily, the subjects are over something you find interesting as long as it pertains to your degree. For example, if you’re a sport management master’s student wanting to do a project on chickens, it has to involve an aspect of sport management or it won’t be approved.

Since the subjects for projects are selected by us and approved by the professor, the work becomes easier since you are covering a subject you find interesting. However, odds are you will have multiple ongoing projects in each of your classes, most of them due on the same due date as the others. This requires everyone to manage their time effectively in order to complete the assigned project and put in an equal share of work.

The first two semesters at A&M were definitely fun, but it took a lot of effort to complete the assigned work. My second semester challenged me and my classmates’ ability to organize and manage our time pretty much every single day. Each week, we had at least two quizzes due with a third, random quiz possible.

The next week, we had a short paper due in each class.

In week three, we had one major assignment on top of two quizzes.

Week four required us to give a short oral presentation then take another quiz or test.

Yes, the second semester was one to remember, but also forget. About halfway through the semester, you could tell some of us were exhausted with the workload on top of working for money and looking for internships. Despite the difficulties. We made it to May and looked forward to summer vacation, which meant we would either be interning somewhere or working to save up for school.

The graduate experience has been a great experience for me in several ways. First, it has challenged me to rethink my game plan on life. With the information I learned from my professors, and advice from other graduate students, I have taken huge steps towards establishing and recreating my “brand.”

I am having to work A LOT to pay for grad school, but the knowledge gained from my three jobs (yes, 3. One is currently a volunteer job to bolster my resume) will definitely land me a good job.

Second, the connections I have made have strengthened their trust in me as a worker and person. Their trust in me from day one up until now has increased exponentially, and my connections could help land me a job. Finally, my experience in graduate school has improved many of my skills and allowed me to strengthen skills I never knew I had. For example, I have learned how to use Photoshop and Publisher to create graphics and flyers for events. Plus, I’ve learned to use WordPress, Wix, and other website programs. These technical skills will come in handy somewhere down the road.

If you’re reading this and considering applying for graduate school, be sure to do these things (before and during graduate school)

  • Study HARD for the GRE. This test was very similar to the SAT, but it should not be treated as the SAT. Study every GRE book you can, and work to achieve a score above a 300 out of 340.
  • Once you get accepted, schedule a meeting with an advisor to discuss your career route. This is important because you may not have time to talk with your advisor about classes. Figure out what you want to do, and then go talk with an advisor to get an idea of the classes you need to take that will help make you successful.
  • Grow your network in two ways. First, get to know you classmates. They will be your lifeline in some circumstances, and you will be spending up to 4 semesters with them (potentially more in some cases). Second, meet important people, add them to your LinkedIn account (get one if you don’t already have it), and be in constant contact with them throughout your graduate career. They may have a job just for you!
  • Time manage like a boss! If you can do this, grad school will be easier for you in the long run. Fail to do this, and you could be in for a nightmare of an experience.
  • Understand and Apply. Everything you learn in grad school must be understood well and applied constantly. If you do this, you will understand the concepts better and give yourself an advantage in finding a full-time job or internship.

Grad school is meant to challenge you. It is no walk-in-the-park, but you can make it easier on yourself if you take the necessary steps to build your professional profile. I am still learning how to do things right, but things are coming easier than they were a year ago. Year 2 is underway, and so far it has been exciting and challenging, but I know I have what it takes to accomplish anything. You will to if you apply yourself just right. Good luck to those applying for graduate school!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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