Grad school presents challenges of its own

Reading Sean Rose’s column “Grad students should continue education for right reasons” in Friday’s Kernel made me chuckle and remember what it was like more than five years ago when I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree. But today, as a fifth-year graduate student in the College of Medicine department of molecular and cellular biochemistry, a Student Government graduate school senator, and a Graduate Student Congress representative, I know a little bit about grad school, and let me leave you with this warning: “Grad school is not for the faint of heart.”

And let me tell you, grad school is absolutely nothing like undergrad. I doubt too many undergraduate students wake up every morning at 6 when the alarm goes off, are out the door before 8 a.m., and don’t see the door again until long after dark. How many undergraduates spend their days developing research proposals, writing grants or teaching multiple courses?

After my graduation, I went to work for nearly a year before returning to school, and you don’t want to know how many days in the past five years I’ve wished I had just stayed where I was. I made almost twice as much money as I do now, I worked about a quarter as hard, and my supervisors were always impressed. In grad school, I’m often over-looked, over-worked and certainly underpaid.

So, if you’re still reading by now, you are probably asking, “Why are you still here?” And there’s a simple answer: I believe in what it is that I’m doing. I believe in myself. And though the days are hard and often long, I’m here because I can see how graduate school will benefit my future. Maybe not my immediate future, but on down the road, when I’m like 40.

The students that Sean Rose refers to as aimless won’t make it a year in grad school. I’ve seen their type. They start off all right, taking course and making passing grades, but after about the first year, when the expectations escalate and the mountains of work just keep piling higher, they are out of the door!

Grad students are not in school because they don’t know what they want. No, grad students are here because they know exactly what they want.

Mary Bosserman

UK graduate student