Graduate School, it is everything the past students told you (as the new cohort of graduate students) about, yet nothing that you were prepared for. The workload, the challenges and the downfalls amidst the plethora of laughs and tears, oh the tears. Graduate School has made it seem like stress got a dose of steroids once you signed that financial commitment form and told yourself that this is what you wanted to do.
This is graduate life, and whether you like it or not, it will either aid you in achieving your goals or leave you dead in its tracks; most times it’s the latter. Often, your career decision baffles you and progression through the weeks tenderizes you like a slab of lean meat under pressure. Even if some argue that the ‘real work hasn’t started yet’, the first week and a half have some of you contemplating your purpose in life. Did you really make the right decision to pursue a Master’s degree? Can you imagine what the next few weeks will entail? You better start making preparations for premature greying and implementing coping strategies just to get through the day. Surely you have thought of ways to tell your parents or significant other that you want to drop out and become an entrepreneur or join the circus.
As you continue through semester after semester, each one worst and more stressful than the one before, you try to push through and make it work. Whilst it seems like the hardest thing you have done to date, you still see that silver lining or light at the end of the tunnel and persistence takes the place of fear and anxiety.
Despite the tests of patience, intelligence, teamwork, and loyalty to the programme, there are the PERKS. Sure we thought of taking that pretty penny and making a down payment on a car or ¼ of a house instead. You feel like an avatar that has just leveled up, and probably after graduation, most of you will be hovering across the floor instead of walking; being a graduate student sets you above the rest. You do believe that you deserve more than the Windows XP computers in the library or the moody air conditioner in Classroom One. Not to mention, you need a new line than having to stand in the line with the rest of the whole school at Burger King. Regardless, you have reached this far, and even though you paid more than an arm and a leg to enroll in this programme you still have hopes that it will be worth it in the long run.
Success sounds great, but first, you have to experience the difficulties to strive for excellence. We are exceptionally trained to hone our skills and master those we never knew we had. We are critically thinking professionals with pearls of wisdom beyond our years. Graduates of one prestigious institution, we are thus unleashed into the world; we become phenomenal managers of our field and effect change.
Graduate School, it is everything past students told us about yet nothing that we were prepared for.
By Alexandra Daley