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What does it mean to be "ready" for grad school?

I'm currently being advised by my peers to reconsider my graduate school readiness because of my mental health and previous experiences of trauma. What's odd is that I've made leaps and bounds to recenter myself & prioritize my well-being while maintaining productivity in the lab. Not sure why they're so concerned, it's making me wary. 

Let's discuss this? 

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Obviously I do not know the details of your situation, but there seem to be three possible scenarios: your peers are way overstepping their boundaries, they have something to gain from you not going to grad school, or they see something about you that you don't. Only you can rule out these choices, but for the sake of discussion, I will assume that the second and third statements are false, leaving the first.

In that case, you know yourself better than anyone else. As long as you don't take it to heart, there is no harm in asking why they believe that, and it may provide insight. Further, there is no shame in discussing it with a professional, if that's something you'll consider. Questioning your readiness shows a maturity that many here do not possess.

That said, I will not opine on whether or not you are ready to be a graduate student.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Honestly, so many aspects of my grad school experience were so unexpected that I don't really know who could possibly feel completely and totally prepared—and even if one did feel so prepared, I can't imagine them progressing through grad school without once thinking "well, I wasn't ready for that!"

I think being "ready" has way more to do with your ability to respond to challenges and adapt to changes. Grad school is one of the first environments where the institutions reallllly remove a lot of the structure we're given in education up until that point in time. I would certainly argue that even undergraduate programs are more structured than graduate programs, although I suppose that might depend on the field. Regardless, success in an undergraduate program does not always translate to success in graduate school. Being able to be independent is important; not in the sense that you will be entirely on your own, but in the sense that you will need to face challenges head on and know when to ask for guidance. Being in grad school is still part of gaining mastery, so no one at this level is expected to have mastered it all, whether that be academically or personally. It sounds like you have already been dealt a lot of life's challenges—sorry to hear that you've had to go through trauma—and have responded in a healthy, productive, and positive way. From what you've described here, I don't believe that your mental health experiences provide evidence of being "not ready."

For that reason, I second @Bird Vision's advice to approach these colleagues and ask why they have said what they said, if you a) want the opinion of people who know you in your real life and b) are interested in gaining insight into why, exactly, this "reason" precludes you from being grad-school-ready. However, if you don't see a reason to be concerned, then I don't think asking your peers for clarification will bring anything to light (except maybe their own misconceptions about how "ready" anyone can be for grad school).


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