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Did you enjoy grad school?

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I'm probably working myself up a bit for no reason...but my first class starts today and I'm already scared I'm not going to enjoy this. Did you like school? If not, did you find it easy to power through anyway? Any advice would be awesome :)

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I'm just starting my PhD this fall, but do have an MA. For the most part, I enjoyed grad school. There were classes I did not enjoy, but from which I gained powerful knowledge that is important to my research. Teaching is much more difficult. I love it when it all clicks, and then there are days that no matter what I try, they just sit there not saying a word. On those days, I worry that I'm missing the boat. Perhaps I am, or perhaps talking about writing is simply boring to them. No matter how much you try to incorporate active teaching, there are times when you are just going have to talk about it (and use the dreaded lecture) in order for them to get the knowledge they need to write a paper. Then there are the challenges to your teaching skills, which are difficult because they can become almost belligerent in wanting to do it their way. 

Overall, grad school has been a terrific experience and one I'm glad to be experiencing.

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Yes and no.



All but two of my professors have real world experience in my field. The best one has been a law professor.

All of my professors have been somewhat likeable.

Most of my classmates have been nice, not to mention unintentionally funny when speaking about the horrid practices they've faced when working.

I've gained something from all of my classes that I can use once in the field.

Knowing you'll graduate from a respective program let alone university.

The great college athletics and university vibe.


There's cognitive dissonance at times, as if my professors live in a bubble. I can expand on this but not here. PM if you want to learn more.

In all but one class so far the professor has said something highly questionable on sensitive/controversial topics. One time it took me 30 seconds to come with information that successfully countered a statement my professor said (just brute facts I came up with); another time when I brought up counterpoints for a controversial topic the same professor basically went all "Well it's all still up in the air! Oh, look at the time! Class dismissed!"

Classroom discussions. If you rock the boat you'll be "that person."

A couple of professors just don't respond to emails.

Some of my classmates aren't welcoming -- at all. For example there are those that will avoid you because they perceive you as inferior in terms of work experience. This avoidance spreads to group discussions and peer assessments.

Emails from the president and chancellor emphasizing inclusiveness and the strength of diversity. I hope they're getting paid by the letter.

The debt.



Edited by UrbanMidwest
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I'm thoroughly enjoying grad school, but that's because I'm a non-traditional older student.  The motivation and dedication I have now didn't exist when I was an undergrad or even during my first master's program a long time ago.  My interest is at such a high level that I'm applying to PhD programs for next year.

Did you recently graduate from college?  If so, maybe it's academic burnout.  If not, I assume you must have had some interest in grad school if you applied.   What reasons are causing anxiety at the start of the semester?  Is one of them imposter syndrome?  Flip your thinking around to a glass half full.  Think that you're incredibly fortunate to be in grad school, as a part of a very small select group vis-à-vis the general population.  Motivate yourself by interacting positively with your classmates; you will learn from them as they will learn from you.  Get involve in other aspects of the school you're attending.  Every college/university has tons of activities for you to participate.  If you're working full-time and don't have much free time, then get yourself in a study or project group, or start one yourself.  There are academic support services in every program, so avail yourself of that.  There are other ways to get out of a rut, but this is a start.  Good luck!


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  • 3 weeks later...

You really aren't alone though. I can remember being reticent and uncomfortable initially. My concerns didn't ebb until I experienced the program and interacted more with my cohort.

Overall, I enjoyed graduate school. I adored 1 program and thought another program was okay.  My enjoyment really came down to the people (how much did they motivate and inspire me), classes touching on questions that interested me, and opportunities for professional and personal development. My first program was a bit subpar with a lot of that, but provided enough that I knew what I wanted to do next. The second one blew away my expectations.

On the negative, I agree with a lot of @UrbanMidwest's experiences. Some of my classes felt like the professors lived in their "research lab" bubble or their 'normal people' counseling bubble. I worked with serious mental illness and severe developmental disabilities. So when I heard professors paint a rosy picture without touching on the types of cases I saw daily, it was frustrating. It felt like if I didn't agree with a specific approach, my comments were either dismissed or unwelcomed. I learned to write the notes, and be more cautious with when I added to a discussion... or at least when to be dissident. Good news! I had an amazing cohort, so several of us would share our interpretations and experiences after classes if it wasn't welcome during class-time. 



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  • 2 weeks later...

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