From Undergraduate to Graduate Student

If I haven’t mentioned it recently, I am a first-year graduate student. It’s taking me some time to get used to saying and believing that I am. For the past four years, when people would ask me what I do, I’d simply tell them, “I’m a college student that goes to Rowan University and studies in the college of communications.” But now there’s more emphasis behind saying “I am enrolled at Rowan University, studying Writing”, now I can say – “I am a graduate student.” Wow.

But for many, it’s difficult to differentiate between an undergraduate and a graduate student. According to this article found in My Graduate Study, even the process of applying to a graduate studies programs is widely different, as admission committees look beyond the standard GPA and standardized test scores. Instead, they look for a student who has the ability to succeed in the program, that’s why many universities require a resume, a statement of purpose and recommendations and sometimes place greater emphasis on those items as opposed to what a student received on the GRE.

I found the admissions process pretty intimating – while my GPA was strong, my GRE scores were a tinge below the national average. That’s why I took so much time composing a heartfelt statement of purpose that I hoped, and assumed correctly, would put me in line to be accepted at Rowan University. It paid off. I would lament the same advice to anyone is applying for graduate school: take your time when completing all aspects of the admissions.

The biggest difference I’ve found in graduate courses and undergraduate courses in the classroom environment. I feel like the students have to participate more in an upper-level course. Of course, the subject matters are more in-depth and there’s so much more to discuss, but professors are expecting more because in sense they believe you should know more. You have essentially asked to be invited into this exclusive, private party and you have to bring something to this event – an appetizer, a dessert, or a good conversation, rhetorically speaking, of course.

So far, I am one month in my graduate studies and it is has been quite an adjustment period. I can’t say I am too comfortable yet, but I am learning to adapt. Right now, I am trying to keep my head above water, keep up with all assignments and appreciate the opportunity to study at such a prestigious university. There’s a common misconception that there is ten times the workload in a graduate course than in an undergraduate course. The workload is about the same, but it is the level of work that you do, you are expected to dig deeper and learn more from whatever subject you’re studying.

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