Graduate school is a place people go to learn, grow, excel and lose years of their lives. I went to graduate school to pursue a career as a school psychologist and help children. Admirable, right? Three years after graduating college and here I am. Living in a shitty apartment, eating mac and cheese and pulling all nighters. The truth is, graduate school is not for the faint of heart. If your experience in graduate school is anything like mine you will experience the following woes:
1. You will not sleep.
Like ever… just because you graduated college probably doesn’t mean you got your bachelor’s in time management skills. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably still procrastinate a little. The thing is, it is no longer a 2 page essay you need to stay up writing (sigh, the joys of undergrad).
2. You are still broke but it is less acceptable.
Your friends will be buying cars and houses. You will be looking for change in your car to wash the pair of dress pants you already wore 13 times. If you were lucky in college you had parents who were willing to help support you financially. At 25, they are over it, after all you’re an adult and when they were your age they had kids. You are too old to rely on your parents but too busy to work 40 hours a week.
3. You put your life on hold (to some extent).
It is definitely possible to have a relationship if you’re lucky enough to find someone who understands that you are in a state of temporary insanity. Your friends are probably getting married while you are pinning to a secret pinterest board for your wedding in 50 years when your student loans are finally paid off.
4. Health? I barely have time to shower daily let alone focus on exercising and eating right.
Self-care is important, this can’t be emphasized enough. This doesn’t mean it is easy. Being busy means food shopping, cooking, yoga classes, etc. are a special occasion. I try to squeeze in a fitness DVD and smoothie when I can, even still my 25-year-old metabolism isn’t having it.
5. You will want to drop out.
You will want to drop out more than once and you will seriously consider your other options. B.A. in psychology… well there is always food services. These are the worst times but it helps to remember why you started in the first place and share this misery with your fellow classmates over a cheap bottle of red (or five).
6. You will constantly be told how lucky you are to not have to work 40 hours/week.
“Oh you’re still in school? Good for you! You’re so lucky you’re not in the real world yet!” No I am not in the world of waking up at 7am, going to bed at 10pm and having time in between. The real world is a glorious, structured place I can only visit in my dreams (when my sleep cycle has enough time to reach REM sleep).
7. The only people that will get you during this time are the friends you made in grad school.
They get it. Don’t want to go out on the weekends? Obviously. They will stay in with you in silk pjs and bitch over that capstone project that’s not writing itself.
Say you actually make it out alive – then what? CHAMPAGNE, lots of champagne! And then take a breath. You don’t need to have it all figured out right away to move forward.