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RANT: Does anyone else think that grad school is a complete trap?


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Been in grad school now for almost 2 years (going to graduate either summer or fall) and I must say that this probably has been one of the low points of my life.

I came off a life threatening illness back in 2014. Enrolled in school the following year at a major research university for a masters program since I couldnt do what I do for undergrad ever again since my old job was too stressful and after the damage of my illness I had to change fields. I must say that I've never been so dissatisfied with the choice to go to the school that I went to. For starters the teachers are just straight up arrogant morons. Most of them with the exception of 1 or 2 of them don't really understand the working blue collar world and have this ridiculous attitude towards anyone with a different opinion than theirs. You cant disagree with any of these people, even when they are clearly wrong about something. I always felt they were off about things since before I got sick I worked for a while in the working world and knew that some things they said just don't make sense. Alot of the grad students seemed as clueless as the teachers, maybe not all of them but I would say 3/4s were not thinking much about what they were learning. They were mostly buying into what the teachers were telling them. There was also a pretty bad communication barrier since half the students werent from America, which made it extremely hard to really get to know anyone since the foreign students had a hard time trying to communicate / issues with English.

While trying to put together my portfoilo for jobs I've come to realize that 90% of what I learned is completely useless. None of the jobs I've been applying for really give a crap that I slaved away on pointless papers, projects or learned abstract theories that have zero world value. I'm having to do alot of work on my own learning certain skills and doing my own research before applying to jobs since school did not prepare me very well at all. For the money I spent, it just was not really worth it. The program itself didnt really come with any huge benefits either like as in I had to pay for it myself and that there was no way of finding tuition waiving jobs on campus. Not to mention the attitudes of the department, just a bunch of stuck up nerds that don't care about anyone sides themselves. I felt like it was just a second class business in that they take your money and give you such a crappy deal along with god awful customer support in the process.

But the thing that really pissed me off the most was the campus I went to's attitude about things. The university seems to mostly care about football, a corrupt greek system, and how much money they can sucker out of students. I seeked help in multiple departments for business ideas I had or ways to make the campus better or even just someone to have a conversation with about what was on my mind, but I was just basically shown the middle finger and given no help. The admins of this school seem like some of the most miserable and disconnected human beings I've ever came across. Most of them dont know how to have a personality or show any sort of humanity. It echos very similar to what you would see in corporate america in that it's a very cold stress driven culture with no real goals in mind. Even the psychiatric counselling was awful. I was put in anti depressants and told "you can quit them at any time". Turns out I had withdrawl so bad that I cursed out the pharmacy when they wouldnt give me a refill since that was how bad the drugs made me feel. Luckily when I called the pharmacy a few hours later the drugs were ready and to this day I'm stuck on them since until I leave school, there arent any good enough doctors in my area who can get me off the drug.

Finally the students...I try to not blame them as hard since they are young and still learning the world, but some of them I just don't even understand how they made it to this school. This school requires at B+ average to come right out of high school, so while they arent at the top of their class, it seems like on paper they should be remotely intelligent. But one thing I learned is that grades dont always mean anything. It just means they can follow instructions, but have no abilities to think outside of the box or have any real skills. The school seems to be a very follow the herd mentality. Everyone just follows around another groups of people doing mindless shit like binge drinking, clubs with extreme viewpoints/focused too much on one thing, spamming facebook with political nonsense that makes no sense, having random fundraisers for things that they cant even comprehend, like I could go on, but it seems like most people in college just have no awareness of what they are doing with their lives. They all seem to go with the motions to just make everyone else happy. Nobody seems to have a pair of balls to do whatever the hell they feel like doing.

The only upside of my experience is that I will get a great job once I graduate, one that can pay my bills and isnt too stressful. Thing is that I missed out from working for 2 years since I been stuck in this town to where the economy revolves around the school. I been keeping busy with my own business ventures and finding some mediocre jobs to try out, but none of it has really brought in any serious money. I might have some good job prospects coming in within the next few weeks, but nothing is certain.

I dunno if its just grad school, the school I went to or that college in general is not what it really seems, but I never been so unhappy in my life. Im happy to get the hell out of here within a few months and be done with college forever. Im pretty disappointed since both grad school and this school that I always wanted to go to since being a freshman in undergrad wasnt what I though. Not really looking to be judged or given advice, but was just seeing if anyone else out there dealt with anything similar.

Edited by cloud420strife
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I haven't experienced what you are experiencing at school. Some if your unhappiness may have to do with the circumstances you are in and some of it likely has to do with your depression. I encourage you to seek support for your depression and to take some time for yourself every day for hobbies or other activities that you currently (or used to) find enjoyable, relaxing and fun so that your can get a break from the stress you experience every day at school. Sometimes it helps make friends outside of school that aren't grad students to get a completely different perspective on life, or to connect with family and close friends by phone or in person.

You are almost done the program. You might not find any benefits to your degree right now, and perhaps you never will. But that doesn't mean that someone who will hire you one day won't find value in your education. This might be the very ticket to your dream job and you just don't know it yet. Hang in there. You are only a few months away from moving away and moving on. 

 

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Every institution I ever went to, there were people who thought it was wonderful and people who thought it was crap. In my estimation, both opinions were based on little if any objective evidence. They were mostly formed on subjective ideas of fit, a vague sense of how their life was going at the time, and general pessimism/optimism. Very little to do with their practical circumstances.

That said, I've never liked people who think that they are smarter than every other person in the room and who dismiss every idea they disagree with as idiotic. Rarely if ever are these people anything other than a vibrant manifestation of the Dunning-Krueger effect.

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Can't really empathize with you, sorry. My graduate school experience has been pretty great. The profs have been helpful, my advisor is awesome and the students in my lab are pretty nice. A tad bit absent from lab/university life if you ask me, but then again we all have stuff to do outside uni. Also, the job prospects are not looking as bad as I thought, all things considered (i.e. the academic job market is tough and getting tougher every year).

I guess some people have good experiences and some people have bad ones. Sorry to hear you were on the latter group. 

Edited by spunky
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I don't think it's a trap, but there's a culture disconnect (well, throughout all of academia) that is rarely talked about. Not just blue collar/white collar, but how to operate in a system that isn't like working at a regular 9-5 or in retail or whatever. I've had to deal with a few issues you've dealt with and recognized that I didn't know the game beforehand in order to make better decisions for myself and my academic interests. Since you're already in there, you have to suck it up and learn the game for your future.

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On 2/27/2017 at 10:57 AM, thelionking said:

I haven't experienced what you are experiencing at school. Some if your unhappiness may have to do with the circumstances you are in and some of it likely has to do with your depression. I encourage you to seek support for your depression and to take some time for yourself every day for hobbies or other activities that you currently (or used to) find enjoyable, relaxing and fun so that your can get a break from the stress you experience every day at school. Sometimes it helps make friends outside of school that aren't grad students to get a completely different perspective on life, or to connect with family and close friends by phone or in person.

You are almost done the program. You might not find any benefits to your degree right now, and perhaps you never will. But that doesn't mean that someone who will hire you one day won't find value in your education. This might be the very ticket to your dream job and you just don't know it yet. Hang in there. You are only a few months away from moving away and moving on. 

 

Im really depressed because everyone around me seems like a total nutjob lol. This school Im at is like a fucking cult. Everyone has this distorted sense of reality and its impossible to connect to anyone around me. Its hands down the most lonely shit I ever experienced in my life. I never been somewhere that is so close minded and disconnected from the rest of the world.

I just wish I could be working where im at now and make decent money and thats probably why Im depressed. The people who work at this school are too arrogant to work with. I know when I move within a few months I will find work but I do not want to hear the words college or grad school ever again. I cant see why anyone would want to go through with this or how this isnt illegal.

Edited by cloud420strife
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3 hours ago, cloud420strife said:

I cant see why anyone would want to go through with this or how this isnt illegal.

Possibly because everyone doesn't have your experience? I would take this as a learning experience; if and when you have a choice to make again about a place where you'll live and work for several years and will determine your next career move(s), the atmosphere and your connection with the people is just as important as factors like pay, location, and prestige. All I can say is that I (fortunately) didn't have an experience that is anything like yours; I have very fond memories of my grad school days. It's too bad that you don't, but then you're only going to be there for a few more months, so maybe try to see past what's going on now to help with your mood. You can already start planning for things to come, and one can only hope that they'll be better than they are now. 

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11 hours ago, cloud420strife said:

I cant see why anyone would want to go through with this or how this isnt illegal.

Like others have said, I haven't had an experience like this. I'm also quite surprised that you are intimately aware of so many others and therefore can generalize their experiences so succinctly.

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you're not wrong about a lot of the things you list. it's true, 90% or more of the classes we learn in school won't be used in the real world. Considering masters is mostly classes, I can see how spending 2 extra years in school can result in not much more than a diploma that might get you a higher entry level salary compared to a bachelors, and not worth the 2 years of opportunity cost of making money and gaining real experience. However, this varies with the field.

I can also see how the schools are businesses before academic institutions, and how administrators are getting paid very well without doing much real work.

However, your attitude about this entire situation, with the way you describe how everyone you've encountered is crazy or arrogant, makes me think that your negative experience largely resulted from your state of mind about your environment. I had a similar experience in my undergrad. I hated that place, and my experience there was not good. But I realize now that it was my state of mind back then about myself, my family, hometown, that resulted in me accentuating my negative experiences, and it's a reinforcing feedback. bottomline, it clearly wasn't a good fit for you. but there are plenty of places where you can move and start fresh. 

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On 3/6/2017 at 0:58 PM, ExponentialDecay said:

I hate crunchy peanut butter. CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER SHOULD BE ILLEGAL Y'ALL NO JOKE.

This was a major disagreement between my wife and I when we first got married. She liked crunchy, I hated crunchy. If it has the word 'butter' in the name, it should be smooth, like butter. Would you want to spread chunky butter on your morning toast?

The only good use for chunky/crunchy peanut butter is for cookies.

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On 2/27/2017 at 9:56 PM, ExponentialDecay said:

That said, I've never liked people who think that they are smarter than every other person in the room and who dismiss every idea they disagree with as idiotic. Rarely if ever are these people anything other than a vibrant manifestation of the Dunning-Krueger effect.

Sounds like the OP

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2 hours ago, avflinsch said:

This was a major disagreement between my wife and I when we first got married. She liked crunchy, I hated crunchy. If it has the word 'butter' in the name, it should be smooth, like butter. Would you want to spread chunky butter on your morning toast?

The only good use for chunky/crunchy peanut butter is for cookies.

Real men eat PB straight up with a spoon.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On ‎2017‎-‎02‎-‎24 at 9:33 PM, cloud420strife said:

For starters the teachers are just straight up arrogant morons. Most of them with the exception of 1 or 2 of them don't really understand the working blue collar world and have this ridiculous attitude towards anyone with a different opinion than theirs. You cant disagree with any of these people, even when they are clearly wrong about something.

I wanted to share that my experience has been quite different, to give a little perspective to the other side. Most of my professors have been very pleasantly surprised when somebody has offered an opinion that contradicts that. Some even beam. One professor right out said they were thrilled a student "finally disagreed because that's what graduate school is supposed to help you do." Of course not all faculty like to be disagreed with, and they are in every school.

I would suggest that *how* you disagree with someone in academia can make a big difference. Having a healthy discussion requires acknowledging that the person you are speaking with has a valid point, but, hey, maybe they missed this other side of the coin: would they consider this other perspective?

I acknowledge the school you attend has a bunch of "arrogant morons" as you put it. But could it be the way you phrase your different opinions, maybe, just maybe, be putting them on the defensive of the 25 years they spent studying a particular thing? (I also acknowledge maybe my school is just more chilled)

Cheers!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I like the fact that people on this forum know how to discuss topics other than school. During the welcome weekend at my future grad school everyone was talking about school only, like they don't have private lives at all. I hope that changes once we get to know each other better.

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On 2/25/2017 at 0:33 AM, cloud420strife said:

Been in grad school now for almost 2 years (going to graduate either summer or fall) and I must say that this probably has been one of the low points of my life.

I came off a life threatening illness back in 2014. Enrolled in school the following year at a major research university for a masters program since I couldnt do what I do for undergrad ever again since my old job was too stressful and after the damage of my illness I had to change fields. I must say that I've never been so dissatisfied with the choice to go to the school that I went to. For starters the teachers are just straight up arrogant morons. Most of them with the exception of 1 or 2 of them don't really understand the working blue collar world and have this ridiculous attitude towards anyone with a different opinion than theirs. You cant disagree with any of these people, even when they are clearly wrong about something. I always felt they were off about things since before I got sick I worked for a while in the working world and knew that some things they said just don't make sense. Alot of the grad students seemed as clueless as the teachers, maybe not all of them but I would say 3/4s were not thinking much about what they were learning. They were mostly buying into what the teachers were telling them. There was also a pretty bad communication barrier since half the students werent from America, which made it extremely hard to really get to know anyone since the foreign students had a hard time trying to communicate / issues with English.

While trying to put together my portfoilo for jobs I've come to realize that 90% of what I learned is completely useless. None of the jobs I've been applying for really give a crap that I slaved away on pointless papers, projects or learned abstract theories that have zero world value. I'm having to do alot of work on my own learning certain skills and doing my own research before applying to jobs since school did not prepare me very well at all. For the money I spent, it just was not really worth it. The program itself didnt really come with any huge benefits either like as in I had to pay for it myself and that there was no way of finding tuition waiving jobs on campus. Not to mention the attitudes of the department, just a bunch of stuck up nerds that don't care about anyone sides themselves. I felt like it was just a second class business in that they take your money and give you such a crappy deal along with god awful customer support in the process.

But the thing that really pissed me off the most was the campus I went to's attitude about things. The university seems to mostly care about football, a corrupt greek system, and how much money they can sucker out of students. I seeked help in multiple departments for business ideas I had or ways to make the campus better or even just someone to have a conversation with about what was on my mind, but I was just basically shown the middle finger and given no help. The admins of this school seem like some of the most miserable and disconnected human beings I've ever came across. Most of them dont know how to have a personality or show any sort of humanity. It echos very similar to what you would see in corporate america in that it's a very cold stress driven culture with no real goals in mind. Even the psychiatric counselling was awful. I was put in anti depressants and told "you can quit them at any time". Turns out I had withdrawl so bad that I cursed out the pharmacy when they wouldnt give me a refill since that was how bad the drugs made me feel. Luckily when I called the pharmacy a few hours later the drugs were ready and to this day I'm stuck on them since until I leave school, there arent any good enough doctors in my area who can get me off the drug.

Finally the students...I try to not blame them as hard since they are young and still learning the world, but some of them I just don't even understand how they made it to this school. This school requires at B+ average to come right out of high school, so while they arent at the top of their class, it seems like on paper they should be remotely intelligent. But one thing I learned is that grades dont always mean anything. It just means they can follow instructions, but have no abilities to think outside of the box or have any real skills. The school seems to be a very follow the herd mentality. Everyone just follows around another groups of people doing mindless shit like binge drinking, clubs with extreme viewpoints/focused too much on one thing, spamming facebook with political nonsense that makes no sense, having random fundraisers for things that they cant even comprehend, like I could go on, but it seems like most people in college just have no awareness of what they are doing with their lives. They all seem to go with the motions to just make everyone else happy. Nobody seems to have a pair of balls to do whatever the hell they feel like doing.

The only upside of my experience is that I will get a great job once I graduate, one that can pay my bills and isnt too stressful. Thing is that I missed out from working for 2 years since I been stuck in this town to where the economy revolves around the school. I been keeping busy with my own business ventures and finding some mediocre jobs to try out, but none of it has really brought in any serious money. I might have some good job prospects coming in within the next few weeks, but nothing is certain.

I dunno if its just grad school, the school I went to or that college in general is not what it really seems, but I never been so unhappy in my life. Im happy to get the hell out of here within a few months and be done with college forever. Im pretty disappointed since both grad school and this school that I always wanted to go to since being a freshman in undergrad wasnt what I though. Not really looking to be judged or given advice, but was just seeing if anyone else out there dealt with anything similar.

37

I understand how you feel with a lot of this, like the program not having the benefits and general buyer's remorse.  I'm very disappointed in this my second and final year - it will be over in less than a month and it's clear now something is wrong with the program.  Know that you're not alone :)

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On 4/20/2017 at 9:31 AM, ejpril88 said:

I like the fact that people on this forum know how to discuss topics other than school. During the welcome weekend at my future grad school everyone was talking about school only, like they don't have private lives at all. I hope that changes once we get to know each other better.

As Richard Feynman once (supposedly) said, it's only the things nobody knows anything about that people (in mixed disciplinary company) can discuss. Particle physics makes bad small talk because some people do know something about it. So, weather? Politics? International finance?

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The company I work for has more than 60 employees and there are only two conversation subjects - sports and food. All. The. Time. When I come to work in the morning, at least two people ask me "what did you bring for lunch today?". Then during lunch, they love to go into details about food, like "what kind of meat is that", "did you make your lasagna yourself or you bought it" etc. Before we go home for the day, the usual question is "what are you having for dinner tonight?". Let's say I respond "pizza". The next question will be "what toppings?" I say "Uhm... I don't know, ham, cheese, mushrooms probably". Then the question is "What kind of cheese?"

This was a huge surprise for me, since I moved to US a year ago. I mean why does anyone care what kind of cheese will I use for my pizza :blink: The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that people don't want to talk politics and other touchy subjects and prefer small talk so they can stay on the safe side. I sure hope it will be different in grad school! 

 

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2 hours ago, ejpril88 said:

The company I work for has more than 60 employees and there are only two conversation subjects - sports and food. All. The. Time. When I come to work in the morning, at least two people ask me "what did you bring for lunch today?". Then during lunch, they love to go into details about food, like "what kind of meat is that", "did you make your lasagna yourself or you bought it" etc. Before we go home for the day, the usual question is "what are you having for dinner tonight?". Let's say I respond "pizza". The next question will be "what toppings?" I say "Uhm... I don't know, ham, cheese, mushrooms probably". Then the question is "What kind of cheese?"

This was a huge surprise for me, since I moved to US a year ago. I mean why does anyone care what kind of cheese will I use for my pizza :blink: The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that people don't want to talk politics and other touchy subjects and prefer small talk so they can stay on the safe side. I sure hope it will be different in grad school! 

 

LOL! I see that you live in Chicago. Cities that are known for their cuisine (particularly cities with a history of immigration and ethnic enclaves) are very food-centric. It's also a way of sizing you up and, sometimes, ranking your "worth" (you want ketchup on your Chicago style hot dog? quelle horreur!!)

Edited by NoirFemme
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13 hours ago, ejpril88 said:

Yes, I know what you mean :D I really hope my new California friends are going to be different.

Maybe a little? Davis is a suburban hipster-ish town. And Sacramento has a bit of an inferiority complex with SF, so the upwardly mobile, hipster crowd can be a trifle foodie. And a warning--never make fun of the Kings!!!

Edited by NoirFemme
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On 4/24/2017 at 2:42 PM, NoirFemme said:

LOL! I see that you live in Chicago. Cities that are known for their cuisine (particularly cities with a history of immigration and ethnic enclaves) are very food-centric. It's also a way of sizing you up and, sometimes, ranking your "worth" (you want ketchup on your Chicago style hot dog? quelle horreur!!)

Anyone who wants to be a sophisticated adult while eating a hot dog is barking up the wrong tree.  

And I love ketchup on them-- with or without mustard.

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11 hours ago, NoirFemme said:

Maybe a little? Davis is a suburban hipster-ish town. And Sacramento has a bit of an inferiority complex with SF, so the upwardly mobile, hipster crowd can be a trifle foodie. And a warning--never make fun of the Kings!!!

Hehe I won't, I'm not really into sports, although I could earn some extra points by saying that I'm Serbian, just like Vlade Divac (manager of Kings).

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