Understanding the demands of graduate school
Prior to my graduate studies, I did an extensive research on what graduate school entailed, especially for someone like me, a family woman with young, dependent children. When I say extensive research, I do not mean going through peer-reviewed papers written by educational researchers on graduate school. Instead, I spent quality time interviewing my younger brother, a graduate student then, and all my female friends in graduate school who were single or married with or without kids. I told them to give me candid, no-nonsense advice. I have heard a few times that graduate studies can never be compared to undergraduate studies. I have heard that graduate school is totally a different ball game. So, I thought it wise to ask those who were presently pursuing their graduate studies. I wanted them to tell me a typical scenario of being a graduate student.
All of them told me it was very demanding especially if you are even a family woman. Even my single friends who were not married at that time, confessed to me their stress levels in graduate school. Two of my friends who were married with kids, strongly advised me not to start my graduate studies until my kids got older. None of them mentioned flexibility and fun. They mentioned strictness and stress. As a graduate student, much expectation is expected of you. You are seen as a more mature individual and you are expected to keep to deadlines, not miss any class except for unusual circumstances, and keep up with your professional seminars. Public speaking skills is a must, and that one really dreaded me because I knew I was so poor with public speaking skills. As an undergraduate, I had the choice of doing poster presentations. As a graduate student, the choices are limited. Power-point presentations in front of your colleagues and professors are a must. It is part of the passing grade. And who would want to fail in graduate school?
I eventually decided to go for it. I enjoyed interviewing every graduate student I knew. It gave me an edge because I already knew what to expect. Certainly, I also prepared for the worse. I prepared myself mentally and physically. As a mother, I already have a full-time, challenging yet highly rewarding job in my home. Coupled with graduate studies, I knew that I was in for real, serious business. After four months of rigorous graduate school work, I can attest to the fact that graduate school is very demanding in every sense. One needs consistent family support, discipline, strength, and sound health to enjoy the benefits of graduate school. Once one gets the groove of it, one would easily begin to reap the fruits of this laborious educational phase.