The first semester of grad school comes with plenty of worries and pre-conceived notions. If you’re anything like me, then you've asked dozens of questions about the actual school part and graduate assistantships. I have *officially* survived my first semester of grad school and, as I write this a week before spring classes begin, have started my GA work for next semester already (oh yeah, that’s a thing), and now understand what this beast called grad school actually is.
If you’re a potential graduate student and are wondering what you may be getting yourself into, read further: this is for you.
Everyone says the first semester is the worst. If you ask current grad students, it’s the one thing they all seem to agree on and mention with the same overwhelmed look. Now that I have one semester complete, every inch of my being hopes this to be true.
During my undergrad I adored my planner and wrote everything down in it and that’s how I stayed on top of my schoolwork. Last semester, I had to have a daily to do list with a weekly assignment list in my phone. My planner was still great, but I needed to break assignments down into manageable chunks.
Readings. Readings. Readings.As an undergraduate, I could get away with skimming or just pulling key points from readings. Grad school requires you to read and read and read and read. You have to be prepared and ready to articulate your thoughts on what you read and thought about. It’s not just regurgitating information; it’s making meaning of the information and applying it to real life.
It may seem like I’m whining—and believe me I did A LOT of that during the first semester. But while I’m hoping the first semester was the worst, I’m sure it will also remain the best. I am surrounded by incredible individuals who know the kind of difference Student Affairs professionals can make. They have brilliant minds and are compassionate beyond belief. Beyond my cohort members, I have an amazing friend group. The bad days suck less with them. I have coworkers and supervisors and professors who are supportive and who require me to be the best version of myself. I'm becoming the person I never truly believed I could be.
If you’re wondering what you have gotten yourself into by choosing to go to grad school, it’s a journey. It is a difficult journey with devastating moments and some of the most remarkable , amazing and uplifting moments. It can be exhausting and feel impossible, but it is beyond worth it.
— Danielle Jones, #ProfessionalU #SAPro
Jones is pursuing her Master's in Educational Leadership through Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program.