4 Epiphanies All New Graduate Students Have

Your first semester of graduate school is even more exciting than your first semester of undergrad. You meet your professors and fellow students and start brainstorming ideas for awesome research projects. You get your shiny new laptop and student ID, and you start planning your daily routine: coffee run, running to morning classes, more coffee, running a lab, more coffee, studying in the library, more coffee.

Then reality hits and everything you thought you knew changes. You’re totally out of touch and overwhelmed. Your desk becomes a sea of papers. And you have a few epiphanies:

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Everything you knew about productivity is a lie

Sure, undergrad is hard, but it’s not oh-God-I-have-to-read-1000-pages-by-tomorrow-and-I-still-have-to-grade-papers hard. You realize that time is a construct, but sadly not one that you can bend to your needs. And your tried-and-true study methods don’t work because it takes you five times as long to read the same passage of assigned reading.

However, you realize you can now become a master of time management, and you develop a talent born of necessity to juggle a million things at once. You’re adaptable and capable, skills that are coming in handy now.

There’s actually a lot you don’t know

Aced all your undergrad classes? Graduated with honors? Yes, you learned a LOT and that’s what helped you get to grad school in the first place! However, now that you’re in graduate school, you’re regularly reminded that you know nothing. New lab procedures, conference-level presentation skills, knowing how to apply for funding, using advanced research skills and resources, writing to journal standards … there’s a lot to learn! However, it’s invigorating to try new things and get smarter! You try things out, accept constructive feedback on your work, and start to become a star graduate student.

You are your own best resource

At the mixer, you made good friends who promised you that you’d totes do that research project together and that they’d share class notes with. Then, you all get caught in the storm that is grad school work and it gets harder to connect since you’re all struggling to stay afloat.

However, you’ll learn to rely upon your own skills and smarts, and become a strong, self-sufficient individual.

You’re pretty awesome

You’ve worked hard and studied harder, and you become a time-warping productivity master, able to juggle everything that grad school throws at you. Insults roll off your back, while you take constructive criticism and use it to make your work better. You realize your professor has become your mentor and that you can truly excel at academic work. Best of all, you feel good about yourself and ready to take on the world — after you catch a few minutes of sleep, finally.