Graduate School Isn’t For Everyone

Whether you’re thinking about going on with higher education to pursue a Masters or Doctoral degree, there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration before taking the dive. Financing is an obvious issue, as is how you’re going to support yourself in the meantime- you know, eat and stuff.

Beyond those types of things, there are some others which aren’t as apparent; things that don’t happen during undergrad.

Going through the History Masters program here at SUNY Oswego has made one thing painfully obvious to me: There are people who are much, much smarter than me. During undergrad I was a pretty good student. I loved studying history, writing papers, analyzing- all that stuff most of you hate. It made me seem smart because I was invested in the process. However, at the graduate level, I had to step up my game. There aren’t a ton of us in the program, so standing out negatively is easy. Teachers, and frankly your peers, expect more out of you. The days of the kid who doesn’t know what he’s talking about speaking up every class making people look good are over. You’re in the big leagues now. If you didn’t read for that day, stay home. People will eventually figure it out.

This is a good time to bring up my next point: You better love what you’re studying. If you’re pursuing a degree after your Bachelor’s it should be something you don’t mind spending every weekend for a few months…who am I kidding? You’ll probably be spending most days researching, studying, and writing about. You may have to skip out on some nights out with friends or with a significant other, which is never fun. Dedication and perseverance will be key. It’ll get tiring, trust me, but at the end of the day I’m proud of the result and focused on getting my degree. If you feel that maybe it’s not for you, do more research, talk to people already in the program and the professors in the department, and choose your University or College very carefully.

Finally, being in graduate school also brings on this feeling of limbo: Am I a student or a professional? I work 30 hours a week, but I go to class at night. How do I introduce myself in a meeting or to people I meet? I’ve personally had trouble understanding the difference. Many times I’m expected to be professional, going to meetings and creating events, but I need to make sure I’m home in time to finish a paper or study for an exam. It’s a delicate balance that will work itself out. In the mean time, do your best to just concentrate on what you’re doing.

At the end of the day, make sure you take your time with your decision and way all the pros, cons, and everything in between.

- Jon (@jonzella)

 

Wait, what month is it?

When I started Graduate School in late August of 2012 graduation seemed distant. Now, in the midst of my second semester, it seems to be coming up quicker than I thought. Though most people will explain Graduate School programs in years, 1-3, in the grand scheme of things Graduate School is only 4 semesters. When you break that down, it’s easy to lose track of time when you think of how the semesters themselves get fragmented with school work deadlines and, before you know it, it’s the end of the semester. 5 months flew by and you can barely remember what you did. This made me think about what was important to me, what I needed for professional development, and what I just needed to do to survive.

It was a hard decision to stop doing certain things that I had become accustomed to doing here at SUNY Oswego for the last few years (I received my Bachelor’s Degree from here, too.) I realized that in order to stay sane it was important that I did things that I wanted to do for me and stop thinking about the big picture 24 hours a day. Professional development is important and taking time out to do that is something everyone should do. However, sacrificing happiness now for future happiness wasn’t how I wanted to live my life. So I changed it. I left some things behind, adopted a new attitude, concentrated on a few things instead of a handful, and opened my self, and my schedule, to new experiences. One of the most important things that I’ve picked up along the way is that personal development, learning more about who you are, will help you in the long run when developing yourself professionally. With a more relaxed schedule no longer filled with the stresses of simply too much to do, my spring semester has slowed down in comparison to the fall of 2012. I take my school work one day at a time and leave enough time for me to relax, go nuts, enjoy food, favorite sporting events, and well- anything else I want.