Over the last 22 years, I have been the director of training programs in which I mentor undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students. Mentoring and guiding students is my favorite thing to do at work. I have served as mentor to hundreds of students over the years.
Many college students ask me whether they should go to grad school. I never answer that question. It is a big decision for them to make. I do tell them what they can expect in grad school that will be different from college. This can help take some of the shock out of this transition and help students prepare for what's to come in graduate school, for those who decide to go that route.
Here are 7 differences between the college and grad school experience:
The bottom line is, successful graduate students need to be motivated and driven from within. It can be hard to transition into this model because students may be used to periodic assessments and short deadlines where they know how they are doing along the way. In graduate school, a long time can pass before you realize that you are not learning all you need to learn or that you have not done all the work needed to complete a dissertation. That is a rude awakening to have after years in grad school.
Graduate level education is certainly not right for everyone. It is definitely not right for students who simply go to graduate school as a way to delay a career decision. Graduate school is a huge investment in time and money, so students need to be aware of what to expect. If you are not sure, work for a year or two and then decide and prepare for a very different school experience.
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Dr. Luz Claudio is an environmental health scientist, mother and consultant, originally from Puerto Rico. She is a tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health. Luz recently published her first book: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide. Dr. Claudio has internship programs and resources for young scientists. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect her employer's views.