1. I might be able to still pull all-nighters but I do not nearly enjoy them as much. In undergrad, I’d have a genuine sense of accomplishment after I pulled an all-nighter. And I pulled several to the point it was the norm, not the exception. Since starting my Master’s program, whenever I’ve needed to stay up to complete an assignment, I would first lay down fetal-style and try not to cry while chastising my need to complete major assignments at the eleventh hour.
2. In connection with not pulling all-nighters, I learned that if you can turn in assignments at any point in the quarter or semester, turn them in early. It saves you so much heartache and stress in the long-run. Also, your professors will appreciate it.
3. I learned that there are so many things I am never ever going to know. While pursuing a graduate degree might make you more knowledgeable in a certain field, you’ll come into contact with so much literature that you’ll begin to recognize just how limited your knowledge of the world really is.
4. I didn’t really learn this next lesson in graduate school but it definitely confirmed something my parents instilled: Having a degree doesn’t make one educated. There are and there will continue to be plenty of uneducated idiots with degrees. The point is to try not to be one of them.
5. Grad students just do not have any school spirit whatsoever. You couldn’t pay a grad student to attend something that is not academic-related. Okay, you could pay us but that would be the only reason we’re going.
6. I learned that professors assess you now more than ever, according to what they think you are capable of. It is annoying as hell if you are somewhat of a good student. And once you get a reputation of being a good student, there is no turning back. All of a sudden, the difference between an A- and an A is the fact that your professor believes you can subjectively do better.
7. I learned you can make an argument that just about anything in life is socially constructed. I also learned that I don’t buy the argument that everything in life is socially constructed.
8. Academics really like the following words: “Socially constructed,” “discourse,” “privilege,” and “hegemonic,” and sooner or later, it’ll disgust you how much you’re starting to use all those words in everyday conversation.
9. Grad school involves looking at the world with a critical lens and the capacity to do this will become a part of who you are. You will see the world differently if you’re doing it right. Sometimes this will have an effect on your interests and your personal relationships. And the effect will not necessarily be positive.
10. Now for the most important lesson: THE WORLD IS REALLY REALLY SCREWED UP. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Okay, just kidding, you can do something about it. You just have to remember that first and foremost, that what needs to change is you. And if you can do that, well, you’re already miles ahead of 95% of most human beings.