Surviving graduate school

Robin is an ambitious mid-westerner who made a cross-country move to continue her education and career with the University of Miami. She has a consuming passion for learning, as she works to attain her Master’s in Education and aspires to fuel people with desire to be educated and believe in their dreams, no matter their circumstances. Her hobbies include traveling, fitness, playing with her husky, and anything outdoors. As a current representative at her company, she hopes to move into a director position, and attain her Ed.D soon after.
For most of my life, I dreamed of the day I would get my bachelors degree. It is the single most spoken degree we are pushed to aspire up to. It was such a big accomplishment for me on the day that I graduated because I had felt that I reached the top. All of the years of school I had been putting myself through were concluded. I followed the very popular expectation, and “completing” my education, entered a career in my field immediately after. At work I was in the company of many academic scholars. So it was the first time someone even mentioned graduate school to me. All I could reply was, “Grad school? Masters and PhDs? Oh, no. Those are so advanced and meant for people who are already experts in their fields”. I found myself considering and exploring into the new idea and realized becoming an expert in anything means that you were a beginner who knew nothing at one point and had to go through the journey. I wandered if it would be a wasted opportunity if I didn’t even try it, since I was only a year out of school and still had the time.
Soon after, I was leisurely browsing through the programs and came across one that was perfect for me to use that would also give me a great advantage to advance my career. I began the admissions process and studying for the entrance exam score I needed. After much time and hesitation from fear of shortcoming, as said so well by Theodore Roosevelt, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse, never to have tried to succeed”, I realized the only option is failure if I didn’t even take the risk. I took the test, ecstatic to have received the score I’d needed, and, very suddenly, I was an admitted graduate student, scratching my head as to why I hadn’t done it sooner.
Entering my first semester was intimidating because I was outside of my comfort zone. However, it didn’t take long until I realized that my classmates were all in the same shoes as me and not in the predicted “expert level” already. I am now halfway done with my master’s degree and can say this was the best risk I ever took in my life. Unexpectedly, I actually like graduate school so much more than I did as an undergraduate student because of how different it is. No one really tells you anything about graduate school unless you are seeking the information, which we don’t even think to do because it seems like such an impossible reach or we are simply unaware. It is more independent, free, individualized, critical-thinking, comprehensive work, unlike undergraduate work which is very structured, concrete, one-answered type of tasks. As a graduate student, you are given more personalized academic experiences that push you to really think outside of the box and show you how to open your skills far beyond the classroom.
The way to push your life forward is to push yourself forward. If you are afraid you won’t be enough to advance yourself, you are inevitably going to fail. However, when you realize the possibility of failure also gives possibility of success by taking action, you break through fear. Being granted a graduate degree is so honorable and respected not only because it is an expert scholar receiving an expert degree, but because throughout the process of entering and completing grad school, you have proven a new holistic level of confidence, ambition, and belief in your academic, professional, and personal ability. Do not fear or be intimidated by graduate school. Albert Einstein once said, “Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all of the facts”. Be resilient and always consider risks of failure as opportunities for success.

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