The Struggles of Grad School

When I received my Bachelor’s degree in 2011, I knew I always wanted to go back to school at some point. I’m a true nerd at heart – I love to learn. Okay, that’s partially bullshit. If I’m being completely honest, I do love to learn, but a Master’s degree does open doors in terms of career opportunities. So I’ll just be frank here and move on.

I began pursuing my MBA in 2013, and am set to graduate in June 2015. A date that cannot come soon enough. I never knew how difficult graduate school could be until I was actually in the thick of it. When other students say that they have no free time, I truly believe it now. And don’t even get me started on the individuals that are married and have children – those people deserve some sort of sainthood. I can barely manage with a full time job and school. No kids, no husband. I’m the “average joe” of grad students – I can’t even compete with those elite individuals that sacrifice seeing little Sally chase a soccer ball at her game on Saturday mornings or miss out on reading baby Aidan a bedtime story on weeknights.

What I do know is this: graduate school requires a hell of a lot of dedication and commitment. And from me to you, the struggle is so, so real.

What people outside of grad school fail to realize is that it is not the same as college. College is fun – the best times of your life. Grad school is the biggest pain in the ass. And it’s a pain that you rationally and consciously chose to bestow upon yourself. I’m 25 – shouldn’t I have my life far more put together at this point? Instead, I feel like I’m teetering on the brink of insanity, from which only an IV drip of caffeine can save me.

giphy4

There’s some saying that I can’t exactly remember at the moment that goes something like, school is comprised of three things: the social, the studying, and the sleeping. Yet we can never have all three – one of those will always be sacrificed in college. In grad school, I feel like all three are sacrificed to some extent, especially if you are like me and attempting to hold down a full-time job that makes you feel like you are bound for a psych ward. All I ask is for the walls to be padded.

And while I feel like I am accomplishing something here, all I can see via social media are individuals that I went to high school with – and you know what they are doing? Getting married, having babies, traveling (this one I am particularly envious of), and acting like freakin’ Santa Claus on uppers. Meanwhile I’m stuck going to class at night, driving a Honda that gets great gas mileage, and averaging a solid five hours of sleep on weeknights, dreaming of a world where there are 29 hours in a day instead of 24. My accomplishments know no bounds.

The Office

And as for the social aspect, I owe every one of my friends an apology. I blame grad school and the never-ending stress that comes along with it. Sue me that I am choosing sleep over hanging out with you. I’ve already gone over the list, and the hierarchy is this: studying, sleeping, and last, and yes, it is least in this case, socializing. Plus I really can’t afford those three beers right now anyway. And no, my excess funds can’t be used towards coffee either. They are being put towards my gym membership and my gas tank that always seems to be at empty within three days. I’m sorry. Come June 2015, I’ll make it up to you.

Rory Gilmore

Although to be frank – because I really am all about the honesty lately – I don’t think I should have to apologize. I don’t think that anyone in grad school or considering grad school should have to apologize for not having all the time in the world. Will I always be there for my friends through thick and thin? You bet. But I am not a worse friend for not spending my Friday nights at the local bar, especially when I have a class that begins at 8:30 am on Saturday morning. The sad truth is that your friends that are not in grad school may not get it. Actually, there’s an extremely high probability that they definitely do not get it. In fact, some of my closest friends now are the ones that I am actually in grad school with because we can sit around and study together and try not to cry into our couch cushions that we will never get it all done. Plus these are the people that will rail against the professors we all universally dislike and these are the people that you can text at 3 a.m. when you’re still trying to finish that paper or you’re going through your notecards for that midterm for the umpteenth time.

Futurama

But perhaps the biggest struggle for me is I have started to constantly question whether or not it is truly worth it. I mean, I always come to the same conclusion at the end (that it is worth it), but in the heat of the moment when I’m overwhelmed or feeling like banging my head against my desk repeatedly, I truly wonder if the sacrifices I am making will pay off all for three letters: M.B.A. What I do know is that I am nearly there; the light at the end of the tunnel is less than seven months away. I will walk across that stage at graduation and bask in the fact that I never have to go to school again. No more studying for the GMAT, no more late night cram sessions, no more quarterly “MBA Association Fees” or parking permit expenses because I WILL FINALLY BE DONE. And then all that’s left is to figure out what comes next. That should be easy enough to figure out, right? RIGHT?!

Michael

Comments

  1. This will most likely be me two years from now, haha! It’ll all be worth it when you have that diploma in your hand, keeping working hard! 🙂

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