by: Nick Weeks
published: December 2010
People have said to me, "You always sound so negative when you talk about graduate school. It sounds like you hate it. Do you?" The answer is a simple, "No." I actually really enjoy graduate school, but it is sometimes difficult to express why and what I like about it. Clearly if I were to say, "I had to write three, thirty-page papers and read nearly two books a week, HURRAY," you would all think I was crazy. Not to mention I'm only a 22-year-old male. Being 22 should be about playing Xbox, going to the gym, and then partying all weekend, not discussing the Meiji Constitution of 1889.
So what do I like about graduate school?
Well first I like the interaction with the professors. In grad school the professors treat you as a colleague and not as your superior. In some twisted way, you actually look forward to the professors showing up to class. It's not like as an undergrad where the arrival of the professor meant the arrival of nap time. In graduate school, because you actually want to learn, the professor represents a wealth of knowledge and experiences that will only add to your understanding.
"In graduate school you don't just learn 'facts,' you learn new approaches to interpret the material that you have learned countless times before."
This brings me to the second thing I like about grad school: the intensity of learning the subject at hand. I'm a history nerd and throughout my undergraduate career I never felt that I was really learning anything new. Most of my classes just rehashed the information that I had already learned countless times before. But in graduate school you don't just learn "facts," you learn new approaches to interpret the material that you have learned countless times before. For me, graduate school has really been an eye opening experience and allowed me to get a better understanding of my field. Not only am I learning more, but I'm discovering things throughout history that I've never noticed were there.
Another thing that I love to hate about graduate school is all the reading. While the actual time spent reading is not enjoyable, the content and knowledge that I get from the books makes it all worth it.
Here are other things that I like about grad school:
- It's a mature audience with students serious about the subject matter.
- Small class sizes (10 to 14 students).
- Night classes.
- Emphasis on discussion, not note taking.
- No electives. You only take the courses you want.
- 3 classes are considered "full time."
- You get to brag to your friends that they only have a bachelor's degree (losers).
Although I may complain about all the work, graduate school has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences in my life. If you are a serious student and want to extend your "educational endeavor" then grad school is for you!