1. It feels like you drop off of the face of the earth.
In grad school, chances are good that you work all day and go to class all night so you don’t have time to do any socializing. If you do, you have to sacrifice some sleep to do so, and will absolutely pay for that consequence the next day. You have probably spent countless Friday nights alone in your apartment with your cat and a bottle of wine while you try and complete assignments or organize your life. Just remember — sometimes, it’s worth losing sleep just to remind your friends that you are still, in fact, alive.
2. Feeling like you’re constantly in a state of arrested development
Your friends who work full-time with their full-time salaries to match constantly want to go out but you are always the one who is “saving money”. It feels unfair, mostly because you still feel like a college student. If you’re anything like me, you probably got a part-time job on top of your internship to make ends meet. And every time you see old friends from high school or college while at your part time job, you’ll have to explain that you’re still in school, to which they usually reply, “Still?” Yes. Still.
3. Studying for months for exams so terrifying they keep you up at night
And to add insult to injury, these tests are expensive. My upcoming NCE exam was $310 so I am not going to take that lightly. Most tests are also only offered a few times a year, so if you mess up, you’ll have to wait another 6 months until you can find employment. Some margin of error.
4. Your friends who aren’t in grad school will. never. get. it.
There is no way that anyone can understand grad school if you are not in it. It is like the common Greek life saying: “From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it.”
5. Your stress levels border on clinical insanity
If you have never had a “grad school breakdown,” bless your heart. One of my professors once stated that she believes that there should be a special section of the DSM-IV that includes “grad school neurosis.” The identifying factors would include; lack of sleep, insomnia, irritability, increased stress levels, weight gain, etc.
6. Too much alcohol? LOL, that’s coping
The only way to escape the constant nagging of “agenda anxiety” is to have a glass of wine, or two, or three. I once had a non-graduate school friend express his concern about a mutual friend who is in law school about her drinking. My response was for him to come to me with his concern once she is finished with her program. We justify drinking because it is the only thing that is relaxing after a 15 hour day of non-paid work.
7. You constantly question how much it is “worth it”
Depending how long your program is, it can seem like the benefits are not worth the sacrifices that you have made for an extra few letters after your name. (Take it from someone who has finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel: it is indeed worth it.)
8. It’s the Freshman 15 all over again
Maybe you got over your initial trauma of the Freshman 15 in undergrad, but it crept back all over again once you started grad school. Not only is your routine different, but you literally do not have time to go to the gym or eat well because you most likely wake up at 6am and don’t return home until 10pm. Unless you want to wheel around a cooler with you all day, it is virtually impossible to have healthy and well balanced meals throughout the week. On top of that, once it is the weekend, you are ready to drink and let loose so any signs of healthy living have already gone out the door.
9. Failed relationships aplenty
Your relationship has probably been placed on the back burner because you are investing so much money and time into your career. This is a true test to the love that the two of you share. If he or she can put up with your crazy for a few years, then maybe they are worth sticking with. If they can’t deal with your emotional ups and downs, than move on. After all, you don’t have time for anyone else’s drama besides your own. Don’t be surprised if the rest of your grad school experience results in meaningless sex with strangers because there is no commitment involved.