Moving on Up: 6 Ways that Graduate School is Different from Undergrad

By: Shanthi CambalaBehavioral Sciences & Health Education

Just because you’re continuing your education doesn’t mean your education will stay the same. While you’ll use many of the same skills to learn and gain work experience throughout your graduate career, here are six aspects of graduate school that might be very different from what you experienced in undergrad:

You Are Your Own GPS: Know Where You’re Going

College is the time to “find yourself”- to figure out what you’re interested in and to determine which path you want to follow. Attending grad school is when you start to walk that path you choose. As you’re coming into grad school, take some time to reflect on what you want your path to look like to so you can tailor your graduate career in the direction that’s best for you!

Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow To Stop Procrastinating

Whether you want to admit it or not, everyone procrastinates. Some may procrastinate more than others, but whatever your habits are, they will not fare well in grad school. Almost all of your assignments will require you to research, write, review and revise- processes that are their best when working with ample time. Though it is tempting to just write what you can to “complete the assignment,” the meaning of your work and truly understanding your assigment can get lost with this mindset.

Personal vs. Professional: A Fine Line

While you’re making friends in your classes, oftentimes you’ll be working with them on group projects, within student organizations, and at work. Of course, you’ll develop some form of a relationship along the way, but you’ll want to make sure your connections are in good standing. The world is a small place, and the world of public health is even smaller- you never know when your paths with your peers will cross again.

A New Chapter in Hundreds of Very Different Books

Yes, you’ll all be coming together to graduate with an MPH, but each person’s degree will fit much differently into their individual life story. In graduate school, you’ll have the opportunity to learn alongside individuals from all different stages of life, ranging from those fresh-out-of-undergrad folks to those who have been out of school for 10-plus years. Life is not a race, and we all have something to learn from each other.

One Hour Here, Way More Hours There…

Unlike the frequent block times for classes and labs in undergrad, the majority of courses only meet once a week, for a duration of 1-3 hours. However, don’t be fooled by the smaller timestamp: the time you don’t spend in class will come back in the form of semester-long papers, projects, and studying for your exams. This is especially important to keep in mind when trying to organize your schedule, because you may not have as much free time as it appears.

You Lose If You Don’t Snooze

How do grad students make it through balancing classes, work, networking, and trying to explore Atlanta non-stop?

Naps. Lots of naps.

You will never regret getting more sleep, even if it seems like you don’t have time to sleep. You may think you’ll be unphased after pulling an all-nighter to complete your work…

..but chances are, it may not end as well as you’d imagined. A major key to making the A’s are to catch some Zzzs!

While these differences alone can’t speak for everyone, there’s bound to be a handful of differences between undergrad and graduate school. For whatever your situation is, however, just know that it’s within you to make your graduate school career different than undergrad in the best way possible.