It’s been months since graduation, but it’s also time for students to go back to school if they haven’t yet. There are so many videos on YouTube about what they wish they knew before starting at a specific university, but here’s something for those who either are starting grad school, are in grad school, or are no longer in grad school.
- Universities don’t seem to have many campus community opportunities for grad students. I talk about it in this blog post. A lot of campus activities and access to on-campus services are mainly for undergraduate students. If there is something for graduate students, it’s during the day, meaning that anyone in a graduate program whose classes are in the evening may not be able to access these programs. This is especially true if the grad student has a full-time job.
- There are a lack of online resources for graduate students in a Master’s program. Please refer to the linked blog post in #1. Try looking up things related to grad school. Now count how many things online mention Doctoral programs (PhD, ScD, PsyD, etc.). Now count how many things online mention Master’s programs. Good luck finding even one. Graduate scholarships are also exclusive to Doctoral grants.
- People don’t want to socialize. Due to struggling with socialization and its nuances, I struggle to make and keep friends. I had no intentions to make friends in grad school, but I was surprised at how little people talk with each other before and after class unless it’s for something compulsory like group assignments. I have been told by many people that graduate students just want to go in, study, and graduate. I ended up making friends thanks to group projects.
- Classes seem to be easier than undergrad for people I talked to. Big emphasis on “people I talked to”. For me, it felt like grad school was much easier than undergrad. Other people seemed to agree. Receiving an autism diagnosis during grad school is not the big factor in why grad school was easier since I never sought accommodations. One factor that makes me think grad school is easier for people is that you only take classes focused on your major. This allows people to more deeply dive into their interests and prevents people from taking gen ed classes that may be difficult due to neurodivergent traits.
- Many people are getting Masters degrees for a career change. At my grad school, if your Bachelor’s degree was not in Computer Science, you had to take prerequisite classes before you were fully admitted. This is the case for other Master’s programs at the grad school too. Many of my fellow students had degrees that weren’t even tech-related. One classmate has a Bachelors in History, multiple people I knew have a Bachelors in Biology, one person has a Bachelors in Sociology and a Masters in Psychology, etc. Now most people are likely going into the tech industry for the money. In my state, you need to make at least $65,000 per year in order to live alone without financial stress, so making a lot of money is an essential need in many people’s minds.
- There’s a lot more accountability on the student. It may just be my school, but I had professors who were strict on deadlines and group participation. It was not this strict in undergrad. For example, one professor gives you a zero if you do not turn an assignment in on time. No, technology issues are not an excuse to him because everyone experiences technical issues in their daily lives. I also had a professor who gave a zero on a group project to anyone who wasn’t pulling their weight. People in the group had to let the professor know ahead of time if someone wasn’t pulling their weight and he would talk to them. If that didn’t work, zero on the project for that student. In this class, the project was worth 30% of your final grade and since it was a core class, you needed at least a B to pass. I know most people hate group projects due to non-contributors, but I actually liked group projects because you will be working in groups in your jobs.
Those are the big things I discovered in grad school that were not told to me beforehand. Happy new school year!