100 Reasons to Go to Grad School (Or make the best of it once you’re there)

As a graduate student your future is in your own hands. Every decision you make—where you go, who your advisor is, what you study, and how you conduct yourself as a graduate student—will impact the outcome: your life.

A few years ago my advisor forwarded me a link to the blog entitled: 100 reasons not to go to graduate school. Interestingly enough, he sent me to the entry about the dangers of a prospective advisor being a tyrant. I found this blog to be downright depressing. It was neither funny nor enjoyable to peruse so many reasons why I may have made a mistake in going to graduate school.

Many graduate students, such as myself, experience a certain amount of uncertainty about anything from how to analyze data, which class to take, or whether they’ll even graduate.  During my second year of graduate school, while I was bemoaning the in’s and out’s of my work and stresses of working for my advisor, a friend told me I had the two-year blues.  The two-year blues is a condition where a graduate student questions their life, existence, degree progress, and seriously regrets going to graduate school. A year later, the same friend told me: “Well, it looks like you have the third-year blues”. Just like grad school, this condition often has no end in sight.

I’ve heard many graduate school horror stories. Seldom is the answer easy when it comes to graduate school problems and more often the answer is preventative. When people ask me what my skill set is, and I sometimes feel like answering: “I’m good at school.” I can navigate the in’s and out’s of the competitive, high energy, genius- and ego- filled environment we know as academia.

If you are:

  1. considering graduate school or
  2. starting graduate school or
  3. trying to finish graduate school or
  4. know any grad students

this blog is for you. There are things you NEED to know. Graduate school can be an enormously positive experience, which will lead you to unimaginable places. Note the word: CAN. Graduate school comes with no guarantees and no warranty.

As I approach the end of my graduate school days (graduation is 4months away and counting), the weight has lifted, slightly, and I want to pay it forward. This blog is a blend of advice for graduate students, or wanna-be graduate students, and a rebuttal to the 100 reasons not to go to graduate school blog.  If you’re a graduate student or thinking about becoming one, please heed the advice of the wise, and weary, ones who have gone before you.

I welcome additions, suggestions, questions, critiques, and guest posts.

#GradSchool100

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