I will FINALLY be graduating from school on December 21st from Purdue University with an M.S. in Education with a concentration in Learning Design and Technology (what a mouthful!). Go Boilermakers! Now that this incredibly stressful time is over, I thought I would share some of my experiences so that future grad students can get a peek into their future. Or so you can mock me. Whatever works for you.
1. Suddenly it was important to get straight As.
This has never been a goal for me before. I’m usually the person who does just enough to get by. Now that I’m in a program that interests me and I’m surrounded by other people who get what I’m talking about, I care about my grades!
The saddest part, while I believe I’m going to graduate with all As (the last class is still in progress), I do not have a 4.0. An A- is worth 3.7 points. This bothers me…
2. Reading, reading, and more reading.
I think I need to update my contact prescription just because of grad school. It got to a point where I had to triage the readings based on what I thought would make a better/more impressive citation. If there is someone who was able to get every single assigned reading (forget the optional ones), I salute them. They’re probably Superman. Or Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds. He’s my geek-crush with an eidetic memory.
3. Learn how to say no. A lot.
Seriously. I took a one-week trip for a singing competition/vacation, and was still trying to do homework on the plane.
Practice saying “I can’t. I have homework.” If you try to just muscle through it, one of the following things will have to give: your relationships, your grades, or your sanity.
4. Your tolerance for fast food goes through the roof.
I’ve eaten at Del Taco more in the last 20 months than the rest of my life combined. That is, when I could leave the house.
5. There’s another level of tired/fried/zombie that you discover about halfway through the program.
My roommate has texted me that I left my keys in the front door before going to bed. I have also forgotten where I parked at my own apartment complex, and taken naps at very strange hours on the weekend.
6. Dropbox is a glorious thing.
After seeing multiple posts from classmates about losing entire projects or a folder of files, I decided to invest in a paid subscription to dropbox. That way, I have my files wherever I go and there’s no chance of losing them if I accidentally break my laptop beyond repair.
Yes, I realize it’s bad for you. I’m just not sure how to have a full time job, a demanding hobby, and do 20-25 hours of grad school shenanigans each week. My blood is now made of lo-carb Monster.
8. Schedule some down time.
Even if it’s just a day, or half a day. Sometime you need to go away and pretend like discussion board posts and research papers don’t exist. For me, it was a Vegas trip. I purposely picked a hotel that had a lazy river because I wanted to do NOTHING. Abso-freakin-lutely nothing. And it was fantastic.
9. Bond with other students.
I would not have kept this much of my sanity if it weren’t for my program’s facebook page. For some reason, every 4th or 5th post is about bacon, and I have no idea why. It’s great, though. It’s also awesome to be able to vent a little and realize that you’re not the only one struggling. Sometimes it can feel like you’re just not getting it. Everyone else must be smarter than you are, but that’s not the case. They’re all having to rely on the same amount of BS that you do.
An actual post from our group:
And don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishment when you survive…I mean, finish the program. It’s a great feeling. When I walk across the stage wearing my newly-earned hood, I will have the biggest grin on my face. It’s done. I did it. And you can too!!