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Undergraduate life Vs. Grad life

I graduated from undergrad 10 years ago, yes, if you read the blog regularly you know this fact.

However, this is important because 10 years ago, I was 22 years old. I entered college at 18 years old.

I’ve entered my graduate studies at 32.

The differences in my lifestyle and habits as a student often crack me up. I’d been wanting to write a post about it, but, alas. My 32-year-old, full-time working, three class taking arse has been tired and clearly busy.

I wanted to fight a guy who texted me this morning talmbout, “Where have you been, I haven’t heard from you.” After I went on my tirade about doing nothing but work projects and school and trying to eat, sleep and poop in between, his response is “Cool. Are you still single?”

I fought the urge not to take off my shoe and throw it across the room. I digress.

The point is, I’d like to point out some of the differences I’ve observed between my undergrad life and my grad studies life.

In undergrad, you may have taken two or three classes a day for three to five days a week. You may have had a job or an internship.

In grad school if you choose to still work your job/job… you know the one you got your undergrad degree in, the stakes are a tad higher. You likely have your own spot you are paying rent/mortgage on, car payments, credit card bills, food… either way, you have more pressure to produce and stay employed. You still have to have energy and brain power to do what you need to do for your job, and still bring it for your class discussions and assignments.

In undergrad, time management was merely a suggestion. Something responsible classmates and older folks tossed around. In undergrad, procrastination was the way of life. Instant gratification was way more important than proper planning. You’re young and beautiful and you have energy. You can live off of the McDonald’s menu and Mountain Dew Code red and pull a paper or project out of your butt crack only hours before walking into class and handing it in.

Not so in grown up grad world.

You set aside time in your planner to plan planning.

You plan when you pee. You plan when you are going to call someone back, like um your parents who want to make sure you are alive. You plan when to wash and twist your hair (2 hours). You plan the one day out of the week where you refuse to do any work, but if you’ve planned a concert or a dinner out with friends, you amend your planned chill day so you can get ahead on your work so you can enjoy the planned events on a non-planned open day. Whew.

In undergrad, there were days you just weren’t up for going to class. There were quite a few of them. And you didn’t go.

In grad school, you are all about those attendance and participation points just in case they will make the difference in the end. Because when you don’t show up and you realize those points kept you from your desired grade, you bang your head on things.

In undergrad, you don’t believe your professors when they say everyone does poorly on this test or this unit or this project. You think you are better, you think you are different and you think you’ll still ace this thing with the minimal amount of effort. You’ll show them.

In grad school, you not only believe your professors, but you freak out and spend two weeks before said test, project or paper trying to figure out how to at least do better than the worst folks.

In undergrad group projects suck. They just do. There’s usually only one really responsible person and they never stand up for themselves or call folks out on their bs. Folks depend on them, they carry it for the group and the wack people remain wack for another day.

In grad school, you are surrounded by the responsible people from undergrad. How do you think they got this far? Nobody is trying to even hear or entertain excuses. Everyone has a full-time job, are officially grown people with serious responsibilities and have sacrificed their time, energy, and hours of sleep to pursue this degree… throw in some kids into the mix… if you don’t come prepared with your share of the work, not only will you get the side eyes of death, you’ll get cussed out mightily and rightfully so. So yeah, if you in a group assignment for grad, you better represent. The professor is the least of your problem if you are a slacker. You will get jumped by your group for underperformance.

In undergrad, you had to go through the accumulation of friends, fighting with said friends, the loss of friends to only be whittled down to a special few.

In grad school, most folks kind of have the reality game show mentality of “I didn’t come here to make friends.” Since you don’t have a lot of time anyway, and if you are in an online program like me, making genuine connections can kind of be tough. But when people connect, they make their alliances count. They may compliment you in a chat or an email about a point you made in class, or you may thank someone for finding out some additional information. There’s really no need for fakery, because no one has the time. They just won’t mess with you.

In grad school, you’ll find yourself comparing and contrasting your undergrad experience. It’s pointless. It’s a different beast.

In undergrad, your teachers spend a lot of time teaching you concepts, then you read about em and take a test.

In grad school, you read about the concepts, you learn and in class you need to ask your teachers for clarification. They illuminate how to apply this stuff. No vocabulary lessons or definitions in the live class. Nope. You better already know the terms they throw out.

In undergrad, folks can tell when you are bsing and didn’t do the work.

In grad school, folks can tell when you are bsing and didn’t do the work.

In undergrad, you may sleep all day because you partied all night.

In grad school, you sleep all day because it was your assigned day devoted to sleeping. This will be the most consecutive hours of sleep you’ll get all week.

In undergrad staying up till 2 or 3 isn’t a big deal, you’ll be distracted by friends.

In grad school, if you managed to get all of your work done before midnight, the day before your class, during the work week you count that as a win.

Does anyone have anything they’d like to add to the list? I’ve already gone over my allotted time for blogging. LOL


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4 thoughts on “Undergraduate life Vs. Grad life

  1. YES YES YES to all of this! Am in my 3rd grad school class and it’s insane how much work it is. In *addition* to holding down a stressful full-time job & bills, marriage, step parent, etc. etc. I have to budget my time down to the second. I literally have no free time. My undergrad vs grad comparison is this: Undergrad Me: Woo hooo, wine coolers! Grad Me: AAAHHHGGHHHHHH! This.Better.Be.Worth.It.

  2. It’s nuts! I have two tests this week and I’m just not alright. I’ve been stressed. Yes, it will be worth it!!! 🙂 Free time is not free!!! There’s a cost even when you aren’t studying!!!

  3. This made me crack up! So happy to be done with grad school! And yes it is worth it!

    • You are right. I know it will be worth it. Im already learning so much and seeing all kinds of connections between what I’m learning and the real world and the things I hear and read and absorb. I’m going to be nothin to play with when I’m done,  lol 

      Sent from my Galaxy S®III

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