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Last minute worries


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Hey all,

So i finished undergrad in may in chemical/biomedical engineering and I was admitted to a top phd program in bioegineering (funded + stipend) that I'm going to be starting in a month.  I haven't really been putting much thought into it until recently but I'm starting to get worried. 

I keep reading horror stories of people wasting years of their life in grad school to drop out, or finishing but not landing a good job at the end (not that i'm especially interested in academia but the situation may be grim in industry too, i don't really know).  I'm worried the same thing will happen to me -- that i'll waste my time and then i won't be able to land any job at all, or that at the end of it all it will just not have been worth it.  In undergrad i ended with a 3.8 at a reputable engineering school just through cramming, and overall it wasn't that much work even when I was doing research on the side.  I'm worried I won't be able to keep up with all the work I hear grad school is, or that I won't be able to handle working so independently compared to undergrad.  I'm worried that I won't be good enough to succeed in the program.  I love science but this is just a huge commitment that is worrying me.  Any advice?  Anyone feel the same way?  

Edited by bobari
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Are you physically ready (moved in, geared up, whatever) to start school in the Fall? Because if you are, and you're already funded, then I say go for it. You've already crossed a huge hurdle even getting admitted, the people who read your application though you were worthy of coming into their program, and even if you just gave it one term or one year to see whether you can hack it-- well, it just seems like you climbed all the way up that big big ladder to the high diving board at the pool, no one is yelling at you "Get down! What the *(&@ are you thinking??" and you've already got your toes at the end of the board. Why not take the plunge?

It sounds like you've got an early case of impostor syndrome that we all keep talking about. I've heard it goes away, especially when you realize that a lot of other people feel the same way, and the professors who are supporting you are doing just that-- supporting you, teaching you, giving you their time.

There is already a truckload of uncertainty on the job market, whether you're coming out of high school, or a four-year degree, or your master's. There aren't any guarantees. If you got in with funding for a period of time, and an advanced degree might open a few more doors, take advantage of the bone that academia just threw to you and that you earned, even if it seems like the work you did in undergrad is nothing compared to grad.

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Go for it.

Grad school is different than undergrad... It's more like a marathon than a spring. Less frantic work, more slow wearing.

I'd say the first year is probably the most challenging, although not necessarily the hardest.

You might go check out the PhD comics forums, there are some great threads on imposter syndrome and such there- more current grad students (and faculty) sharing problems and solutions. It's a very good support group for graduate school as a whole, just like Gradcafe is for the application process.

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