In Graduate School You Will…

The entrance to Tisch library, the main library of Tufts University. Wikimedia
The entrance to Tisch library, the main library of Tufts University.

Feel Stressed: There will be a million things to do.

Feel Bored: There will literally be nothing to do.

Live on the Undergraduate Residence Campus: You will be too unorganized and lazy to figure out an alternative living situation. You’ll live on the fifth floor of the freshman wellness dorm with ten other grad students. You’ll only meet one other girl on your floor the entire 5 months you spend there. She will have the same name as you and one time borrow your scissors. The whole dorm will be infested with mice in the winter. You will find mouse poop in your moccasins and freak the fuck out and sleep at your friend’s apartment for three days.

Take Notes: You will get a job taking notes for the Center for Academic Achievement for undergrad classes. You will be excited that your great note-taking skills and quirky handwriting will finally pay off.  You will realize you only make $24 a week and be less excited. You will sit in a Nutrition class twice a week and watch freshman give PowerPoints on dietary supplements. You will write things in the margins of the notes—you’ll draw an arrow to the date and write “Friday! Friday! Gotta get down on Friday!” You will write “Beer before liquor, never been sicker!” on the day the class is learning about alcohol consumption.

Keep Odd Hours: Your only classes meet Monday and Tuesday at 3:30 and 6:30, so on those days you will stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning and sleep until 10 or 11. In the morning, you will wake up and look at the clock and be shocked, for some reason. You’ll say “What’s wrong with me?” to your stuffed animal and then watch episodes of, like, House Hunters online in bed until noon.

Feel Overwhelmed by Very Small Tasks: Your days will be so unstructured that when you finally have something to do in addition to reading and writing, it’ll feel like the biggest event ever. On a day when you don’t have class, you’ll decide to finally go to the post office to buy stamps. You will plan your entire day around this errand. When something else comes up—a Professor asks you to meet with them that day instead of the next, as planned—you will panic silently. You will be able to do this. Believe in yourself! You will be able to run your 15 minute errand and make it to your meeting, 4 hours later, on time and prepared.

Find Weird Things Really Funny: You will hang out with friends from class and make jokes about interrupting a hegemonic discourse and queering the space. You will leave each other Facebook comments like “I’m totes gonna queer this EZ-Mac right now ROFL.” You will discuss hypotheticals—what if we did an interpretive dance for our final presentations? What if we didn’t write this paper because words are arbitrary? You will laugh hysterically about all of these things.

Not Eat Regularly: You will be broke and your stomach will hurt too much to have normal eating patterns. The pants that you couldn’t breathe in when you were eighteen? They’ll be loose on you. Your dad will call and ask what you ate that day. Your mom will send you $40 with a note that says “You are only allowed to spend this on dinner in a nice restaurant. Do not spend this at Forever 21. Please get something with protein! Buying calcium supplements: okay, too. XOXO.” You will become anemic. Sometimes you’ll go to your aunt and uncle’s for dinner and you’ll eat and eat like you haven’t eaten in years. They’ll send you home with leftovers and apples and bottles of Voss and you’ll feel your body thanking you when you eat them the next day.

Feel Smart: Not smarter than anyone else, mind you, but smart in general. You will stare at your computer screen when writing your final papers and feel a headache building as you see the tight knots in theories you’re trying to unwind and the limits they’re restrained in. You will realize that you actually understand some of this stuff and feel ever so slightly proud that you do.

Feel Dumb: Not dumber than anyone else, mind you, but dumb in general. You will constantly wonder if there’s something you’re just not getting when doing your reading. You will become shyer than ever about talking in class. You will have no original or interesting comments to make in class discussions and write down all the things your classmates say.

Become Overly Emotional: You will read Barthes’s “Camera Lucida” for one of your classes and actually go “mmmmm” while you read. You will stand in front of a Rothko at the MFA on a random Tuesday and feel your heart collapse inside of your chest. You will stand outside South Station with your best friend from college and your eyes will well up with tears when she tells you about the confidence she’s gained in her artwork.

Hate the Red Sox and Love the Yankees: You will live a few blocks away from Fenway. You will see a tubby fellow walking down Longwood Avenue one day wearing a Jeter jersey and Yankees hat and you will want to hug the shit outta him. You will not do this. You’re from New York; you know not to hug strangers!

Not Do Laundry Often: You will never have quarters. You will live five flights above the washing machines. One day you’ll lug your hamper down the five flights and realize you forgot the detergent. You’ll walk back upstairs and then back downstairs and realize you forgot quarters. You’ll walk up again, and then back down again, and then realize you are one quarter short. You will say fuck it! and leave your things in the laundry room, go back upstairs, and not come down again for three or maybe four hours.

Realize You Are Religious: You will finally understand that feminism is not unlike a religion in the sense that it consumes and shapes all of your views. You will be unable to evaluate your life and your friends and your relationships and the strangers around you without placing them within this context. You will want to grab strangers on the street and ask if they’ve heard the good word. You’ll want to yell corporeal prayer.

Be Absurdly Broke: You will turn down an invite to get drinks with a friend because you just don’t want to pay T fare. You will steal an economy size roll of toilet paper from the bathroom in your dorm because you don’t want to buy tissues.

Have Some Real Good Times: You will find $100 in the pocket of a pair of jeans in a consignment shop. You will decide to buy clothes from the store with it, and discover that everything you want to buy is 70% off. You will visit the museum where your aunt works and she’ll let you touch the objects. You will go to bars with your cousin and talk about your silly fun family. You’ll go to Cambridge with your friend and browse at the Coop and drink Pimm’s at dinner and go home feeling so lucky to have her in your life. You’ll go to a concert with your college friends in Brighton and their faces will all be painted and you’ll all be drunk and dancing and you’ll feel good.

Feel Like Everything is Beginning: You will talk on the phone with your friends scattered across the country. They all have real jobs or are starting grad school or are in serious relationships or are off on some grand adventure. Everyone will sound happy and you’ll remember the history you’ve had with these people and realize how you never knew that one day you’d be sitting on this bench wearing this coat in this city talking to them and you’ll realize that you have absolutely no idea what will happen next. You will not be worried. TC mark


More From Thought Catalog

  • BionicSheep

    This is a really great article. Sums up how I feel doing my year abroad at the moment – all my friends are graduating or getting jobs or doing new, interesting things, and it's exciting! I'm excited for the world!

    I realise this is a comment just asking for some jaded old fuck to reply with “give it a few years”, but man, let me have my joy and eat it too.

    • Arty Sellfish

      give it a few years

  • Rachael

    Everyone will sound happy and you’ll remember the history you’ve had with these people and realize how you never knew that one day you’d be sitting on this bench wearing this coat in this city talking to themand you’ll realize that you have absolutely no idea what will happen next.”

  • S

    I love this! Story of my life. Bonus points for it taking place in Boston.

  • JB

    This is so true! Except replace the mouse poop with a cockroach in California. (The mouse poop happened in undergrad.) :)

  • Fuckinchillllll

    this is good. i like this.

  • Anushka

    This is so apt, its the definition of University life.

  • ceandersen

    i can't even believe how accurate this is. did i write this?

  • Aelya

    Fuck my list of things I learned in first year.
    Gimme grad school now.

  • natural

    It's ok grad students, you're only making a terrible life choice!

  • JJ

    Wait, you said grad school? Sounds like freshman year of college…

  • Private Invective

    This is so, so accurate. And awesome. And why everyone out there “working” in the “real world” (oh puleez, you are all reading Thought Catalog instead of workflowing your deliverables or whatever it is) is seriously considering going back to school — because we are totally getting away with something.

  • devin howard

    this is awesome, insightful, and very true, just wanted you to know that

  • Love

    “Unorganized” is not a word (you should know that by grad school), and this article is the manifestation of self-indulgent boredom.

    • devin howard

      and your comment is the manifestation of self-indulgent arrogance

    • ok

      Unorganized is a word.

    • Georgie

      hush you

    • t-

      go away.

  • Alex Hamilton

    I'm starting grad school in boston this fall…good stuff to know!

    • humblecore

      It's terrible here – have fun!

  • aykay

    is it sad that my undergrad life is already like this?

  • Le

    I see you, Tufts.

  • box hot

    grad school is rarely worth it

  • Alex

    I didn't find this to be accurate at all. Plus, it is sort of bougie to assume that everyone's friends are launching successful careers, traveling the globe, or also going to grad school.

  • Annie


  • soulunsold

    Aside from 3 or 4 things, this list also sounds like art school. I look forward to grad school! :)

  • Steven Timberman

    I'm doing a one-year MA at the moment and can relate to about 90% of this. I also started my undergrad at Boston U and can relate to the other 10% of Boston-ness here. Even though I hated it then, there is something about my rat-infested hellhole on Com Ave that makes my eyes water with nostalgia. Or happiness that I'm not living in bed bugs anymore. Either or.

    That last paragraph is bang on the money. I've got two friends living together, one engaged, a few married, people with real careers… all within the span of a year. And me? I'm going to zoo-themed house parties with first years one day, then grabbing cocktails at a classy bar the next.

    Grad school really is the purgatory of academia.

  • bodythatmatters

    i'm a current grad student living in somerville.
    totally related to the difficulty of small things part. also feel like the article could have emphasized the direct correlation between the amount of thinking you do with the amount of drinking. and also how easy it is to justify it!

  • sleepy

    funny I have experienced a chunk of this at my undergrad lol, although i go to a high ranked liberal arts so we are subjected to a bit of the demands of grad school during our upperdivision work a bit, that and I want to go to grad school.

  • pab

    i hate white ppl

  • Lawnonymous

    Sounds like Simmons College. You described South Hall perfectly.

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