I’m finally wrapping up the first semester in grad school. I thought sharing my experience could possibly help those who are straddling the fence.
WHY PURSUING A MASTERS DEGREE IS AWESOME
Professors are brilliant. Mwah. Mwah. Mwah. That’s the sound of me kissing the professor’s feet wherever they go, rose petals included. Coming in close contact with these gods and goddesses of knowledge is exhilarating. You’re not going to find anyone more passionate about a subject matter than someone who dedicated a good portion of their life studying it. At the graduate level, where classroom sizes are typically small (~10 people), professors strive further to engage students’ intellect than in undergrad (where lecture halls could be filled with ~200+).
Some of your classmates are wicked. You know that one classmate who’s kind of a know-it-all? Well imagine him or her, but older and way more eloquent. The know-it-all kid has grown up to be a kickass grad student, making you feel pretty lackluster but hey! You finally get to feel dumb.
Less assignments. More time to procrastinate.
Reading makes you feel smart. Every additional article, journal and paper you read, you can proudly shelf into your majestic library of a brain. You can also start your conversations with, “You know, I read a study once about…”
Higher expectations. For yourself and your work. Eventually, I think higher expectation transfers into your everyday life. Nothing can improve you more than education. If you ever feel bad about your progress, you can just look at your classmates who equally suffer.
Bragging rights. Alright, now I know we’d all like to twirl our degrees around at dinner parties. Maybe a silk shirt with a little cleavage. Oh yeah, how’s the fast food business nowadays?
WHY IT SUCKS
Reading makes you feel dumb. The more you read, the more you realize how little you know. It’s frustrating sometimes when you’re left with more questions than you begin with.
Less assignments. Remember how you procrastinated that assignment in undergrad and you just crammed everything the night before? You probably came out of that test victorious, or at least scrapped by passing. That’s not going to work in grad school, at least if you’re trying not to get kicked out. If you even skip one class, expect long hours of catch up work. Having less work also means the work you’re left with weighs a lot more in your overall grade.
Classmates are older. Expect to hear about the husband or long-term whoever. Expect to see engagement rings. Not that there’s anything wrong with older classmates. You can still go to the bar with them, but they’re not the type you call up to get hammered with. Or the ones you take to frats.
More money, more problems. Oh yeah, it costs money to go to school. Graduate assistantships will cover a good portion, if not all, of your tuition (if you can snag one before they’re gone), but that’s work on top of school work. You’ll have to find the golden balance balance between your social, academic, and work life and that’s no walk in the park.
If you’re thinking about pursuing a masters, I highly recommend researching ahead of time. Pick a program that appeals to your interest or passion, the more specific the better (like a tailored suit). You can’t get through graduate school solely on interest, but a good amount of dedication, a willingness to learn and an unfulfilled curiosity will get you on the right track.
Thinking about the Ph.D. instead? Here’s my advice.