It was senior year of college, and as my friends started to perfect resumes for jobs and meet with career counselors, I was stumped when it came to what I wanted to do next.
The thing was, I loved my college experience and I never wanted it to end; the late night snack parties, movie nights with friends, days in the library procrastinating with classmates. I was a leader on campus and involved myself in nearly every aspect of campus life I could think of. For me, the prospect of graduation was less exciting than it was sad.
I chose to come to graduate school because simply, I didn’t want college to end. I got accepted to UVM’s HESA progam, and started my graduate career right away. It wasn’t much like undergrad.
Here’s a few reasons why my experience was a total bummer*.
*Warning. There might be some sarcasm and humor in this post – particularly all the words in italics – I can’t help it, I’m a millennial.
1. Free School Sucks!
Like a lot of students, I was graduating from college with a lot of student loans and the prospect of paying for more school was not in any way appealing.
However, when I started researching graduate schools and programs I discovered that a lot of institutions will actually pay for student’s degrees and pay them for their service to the college. I not only fell in love with UVM, the green mountains, and the food on Church Street, but the financial package UVM offered me.
My process for selecting a graduate school was really centered on where I could get the most financial aid and salary for the work experience I would contribute to the college.
2. Gaining tangible work experience makes it way harder to get a job when you graduate
While I am in classes full time at UVM, I also work for the Department of Residential Life and am able to translate the theory I am learning in the classroom to practice. When I first started thinking about getting a master’s degree, I was afraid I would be over educated with no experiences.
Luckily, most graduate program incorporate internships, jobs, or teaching experiences, that help students prepare for the working world after graduation.
3. Having a seat at the table means you have just too many opportunities
To me, the best part about being a graduate student, is that everyone around you sees you as a learner first. I am often invited to meetings and spaces that I would never have the opportunity to shadow if my work at UVM were an entry level job.
It’s really special and cool to be a in a graduate program, because you are invited into another level of academic spaces which become a conduit to experiences and knowledge to which you never would have normally been exposed. These experiences have all come together to make me feel confident in my knowledge and abilities in a way that I wasn’t after undergrad.
4.Taking ownership of your own learning and focusing on what you are passionate about is super boring
My favorite part of my experiences in graduate school is the passion and excitement I have discovered for my own learning. When you are focused exclusively on not only a topic that maters to you, but specific issues and concepts within that topic, learning becomes so much less trivial.
In graduate school; professors invite you into research, see you as a colleague and peer rather than a pupil and you learn to create new knowledge rather than just reproduce it.
5. Its hard having so many friends and even worse building meaningful connections
Some of my greatest friends and mentors where made in college. When I graduated and started graduate school at UVM I never thought I would build connection and friendships as strong as I have.
Graduate school fosters individuals who are strong, passionate, diverse, and excited about learning. Many programs function in a cohort model and this model has giving me a group of 14 students who have been through it all with me. My peers are some of my greatest teachers and it is even more exciting to know that we are not only classmates, but the future of a work field we care so much about.
Carly graduated from Mount Holyoke College is 2016 and is graduating this May from UVM’s College of Education and Social Services Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program. While at UVM she works in the department of Residential Life and with the UVM Foundation.
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