This semester, I am in the unique position of taking a graduate class as an undergraduate.  Not only does this class count as an Honors class, but it is also giving me a great look into the future degree program that I hope to be accepted to.  I am sure that there are some of you who aspire to continue onto graduate school but are unsure of what to expect.  I hope that I may be of assistance with these observations.

For one thing, the class composition is different than that of the typical undergraduate class.  There are approximately 15 students in my class, far less than what you probably see in your giant lecture hall.  Also, my fellow classmates are different from my undergraduate classmates.  Many of them have full-time jobs, and yet still find time to come to class.  Many of them are also a lot older than I am.  I have on occasion been called the baby of the class because of my youthfulness and my undergraduate status.

The class meets much less frequently compare to an undergraduate class.  My particular class meets once a week from 6:30-9:30 at night.  It is very important to keep focused during those three long hours, as a lot of material is covered.  And just like undergraduate classes, it is important to stay on top of the work.  You may be lulled into a false sense of confidence because you’ve got 6 days in between classes to get your assignments done.  But, the magnitude of the work is a lot more difficult, so that assignment may end up taking a lot longer than you imagined.

Reading.  There is a lot of reading.  And you actually have to do it.  And the teacher actually checks.  So do the reading.

At this point, you probably think that graduate cases aren’t so fun.  But they are!

Because everyone in the class comes from different backgrounds, everybody has a different approach to answering a question.  I always find it fascinating to see this phenomenon in action.

A lot of times, the professor will bring in guest speakers to lecture on their areas of specialization.  Not only are you learning from some of the best in the business, but you also get the chance to network with them after class.

And, depending on the class, your graduate professor might plan field trips!  I personally am going to visit the Capitol in Washington D.C. this November with my class, and I cannot wait!

The bottom line is, graduate classes are a bit different than undergraduate classes.  Graduate school is definitely not for everyone, and you should do some serious planning and thinking to determine if this is something that you want to do.  But, if you determine that graduate school is right for you, and you find the right program, I can guarantee that it will be an awesome experience.  You will learn a ton, and you will undoubtedly prepare yourself for the next chapter in your life!

gradstudentbrain

~Scott Eisenhart

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