Filed under Columns

The Undergraduate Graduate

SusanGraduate school is hard.

Not only is it hard, but it’s even harder when you’re still an undergraduate student – which I am. I’m currently both a graduate and undergraduate student at Emporia State. 

The decision to get a head start on graduate classes stemmed from the fact that I thought I only had three credits before graduation. I get antsy when I have too much free time on my hands, so picking up some master’s level classes was just going to be an added bonus. 

In reality, I discovered that I have seven undergraduate hours to complete my degree. But I’m still taking two graduate level classes so I won’t get behind. 

Walking into my first graduate class this semester, I was terrified. Everyone looked so much older, knowledgeable and confused as to why this baby-faced blonde was sitting in the class. To make matters worse, I have an extreme phobia of speaking in class. That’s basically what grad school is – intellectual discussion between colleagues and classmates  in class.

After class, I realized that it wasn’t as horrendous as I thought it was going to be. The beauty of graduate school that I’ve learned so far is that it’s a place of thought. Never before in college have I thought as critically and deeply as I have so far in my graduate career. And I’ve only been in these classes for two weeks. 

Graduate students have the ability to explore original thought and even surprise their professors. They’re not afraid to commit to projects that some may consider irrelevant. You never know what underestimated research is going to lead to the next epiphany. 

I like the fact that we’re held to higher standards than undergraduate students. I like the fact that we are expected to get knee-deep into our assignments and brave the unknown. For the majority of our academic lives, we’ve been forced to learn and think in whatever way teachers deem appropriate. Graduate school gives us the opportunity to break free from that mold.

One thing I have learned is that almost everyone else in the graduate program also feels like they have imposter’s syndrome. Everyone’s got it. And that’s one of the biggest comforts in grad school. I was surprised to find out that others felt like they didn’t belong, either. But you have to learn to fake it. 

Sure, graduate school is hard. But that’s the way it should be.

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