Grad School

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    Sep 30, 2010 7:17 AM GMT
    For anybody who attended or is attending grad school how was the transition? Were you able to take grad classes in your undergrad? At any point did you ever feel like you were not quite ready for it all?

    Thanks RJ,
    Slowly Breaking the Closet Doors
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    Sep 30, 2010 7:22 AM GMT
    Oh also, do you find it easier than undergrad?
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    Sep 30, 2010 7:30 AM GMT
    I find it amazing. My professors are more like colleagues. Just the other day while having lunch with one of the scientists he asked, "So, Jonathan, are you the smart one and dumped your boyfriend before you came here?"

    I always thought he was really homophobic, but I guess not.

    Grad school is amazing compared to undergrad. Finally studying topics that really, really amaze me. A full day on cochlear microphonics totally gets me off, or sedating a gerbil to get inside their auditory cortex is amazing to me.

    My professors push me to think independently. I think that's the difference. It's more about problem solving rather than repeating information from a textbook. It can be frustrating sometimes. I got a 63% on my assessment of middle ear function exam, but between the 11 of us our average was like 65%.
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    Sep 30, 2010 11:03 AM GMT
    Just started law school about a month ago and it's kicking my ass. The amount of reading is staggering.
  • DukeAtreides

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    Sep 30, 2010 11:29 AM GMT
    I started a grad program in clinical psychology about a month ago as well. And, like fastfreddie said, the amount of reading is overwhelming. That said, I've very rapidly learned to figure out what my teachers want us to get from the readings - and I can skim the majority of the text to pull out the relevant information.

    The biggest difference I've noted is that at the graduate level everyone in your classes is there because they WANT to be there. So exams are minimal (at least in my program) and it is simply understood that we will learn all of the information. If we didn't want to learn, we wouldn't be suffering through this process - and that makes a world of difference.

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    Sep 30, 2010 11:32 AM GMT
    It is very common to find one's self freaking out about grad school. I've done it and I know lots of people who have/are. Realize that they wouldn't have let you into their program unless they felt that you could do the work.
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    Sep 30, 2010 12:13 PM GMT
    So far I've found to be very prepared; my undergrad did a great job, however like the others said it's definitely a shitton of reading, but nothing good time management can't fix. I can definitely tell others in my program are floundering with stress, but that might be because they're mainly women (haha, jk). Like DukeAtreides said, you can get feel of what your professors want from you so that also makes it easier. In the end, they're there to help you; always use your resources.
  • Karnage

    Posts: 704

    Sep 30, 2010 1:58 PM GMT
    I think a lot of it depends on the program you're coming from and going to. The graduate courses in my department are generally easier than the undergrad courses, because they expect you to be putting more of a focus on your research. I have talked to people from other departments and universities who said that their coursework got more difficult when they went to graduate school.

    If you have the opportunity to take graduate courses while you're in undergrad, definitely do. It can help you get an idea of what grad school is like, looks good on a transcript, and may even give you a head start on your masters. My school has a program where I was able to start my masters while I was still finishing my undergrad, and now I'm on my last semester.
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    Sep 30, 2010 2:06 PM GMT
    mane8tuh1 saidOh also, do you find it easier than undergrad?


    It's not... it's an entirely different operation from your undergraduate education. Think of it as professional training to be a researcher as opposed to just going to school.
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    Sep 30, 2010 2:44 PM GMT
    Under grad is a joke, grad is where you actually learn the subject-matter you will need to be a strong professional.

    I also don't know of any grad program that would take undergrad credits for grad considering you would need an undergrad degree to earn grad credit.

    That being said MANY school cross-list classes or invite advanced undergrads into grad-level classes. I did that my junior and senior year in college. I was really intimidating because the grad students knew so much more but it is a great experience.
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    Sep 30, 2010 3:50 PM GMT
    I just started a PhD program in Pharmacology last academic year. The transition was...tough for me. Though I think it really depends on your field of study and the preparation you had as an undergrad. I personally felt as if I was suddenly dumped in the middle of the ocean with nothing but a lifejacket and left to fend for myself.

    First, I moved from Santa Cruz California (sunny beach town) to Seattle Washington (dreary big city), so the location, slight culture change, and horrible lack of vitamin D took me awhile to get used to.

    The hardest part of my first year was balancing sporadic and unpredictable lab work schedules with all my classes. I always found myself making choices. "Should stay in lab for another hour to finish the protocol? Or do throw the cells in the freezer for the night and go read those papers for class tomorrow?" "Do I come in really early to finish the experiment before my mid-day class? Or should I wait until after class to do it?"

    One other hard part about my situation was familiarizing myself with other fields of study. Pharmacology happens to cover a wide variety of topics that I never covered in great detail as an undergrad. I majored in Molecular and Cell biology as an undergrad, but coming to this grad program, I had to familiarize myself with neuroscience, electrophysiology, behavioral methods, basic physiology, endocrinology, etc. that came up in my core pharmacology classes.

    That said, I really enjoy the atmosphere. It's really nice to be around people that are generally interested in the subject matter as you are. It's also interesting to see how different peoples' personalities affect their approach to research and teaching.
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    Sep 30, 2010 6:47 PM GMT
    MED SCHOOL KICKED ME IN THE NUTS!!! icon_sad.gif Pardon, caps
  • Moonraker

    Posts: 110

    Sep 30, 2010 8:35 PM GMT
    It is a LOT more reading!! But again, it is stuff you are supposed to love cuz, you want to make a career out of it, so it isn't pointless busy work.
    I did my undergrad at a small college, now I'm at the University of Oklahoma, so it was a big transition in campus life, but the class sizes were still about the same, so I didn't feel too lost in the shuffle of things.
    I did have to do all my own finical aid which is a hasle just because there isn't a streamlined formula. (I like things to be in easy 1.2.3.4.5. list/steps).

    My professors treat us more like peers, so we have a casual relation ship, so we call them by their first names, which is still sorta weird for me. I was brought up with formalities being important. So bit of an adjustment to the more casual style of the South.

    I have classes about once a week, and they are longer. 3-4 hours instead of 3 50 min classes. I have one that is once a month and we have class all day on a saturday, and it is really laid back that we do part of it in the classroom, part in a restaurant as we all eat lunch together, and part outside.

    We are sorta expected to read. My professors rely on us to lead class room discussion. And since the class sizes are small, 10-20, if we don't read, its sorta obvious. haha So stay on top of your reading.

    I am not employed full time, so i can adjust, but next semester I plan to work at least 10-15 hours per week. Hopefully getting a nice balance.

    Where are you looking, and what are you planning on majoring in?
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    Sep 30, 2010 10:51 PM GMT
    Karnage saidI think a lot of it depends on the program you're coming from and going to. The graduate courses in my department are generally easier than the undergrad courses, because they expect you to be putting more of a focus on your research. I have talked to people from other departments and universities who said that their coursework got more difficult when they went to graduate school.

    If you have the opportunity to take graduate courses while you're in undergrad, definitely do. It can help you get an idea of what grad school is like, looks good on a transcript, and may even give you a head start on your masters. My school has a program where I was able to start my masters while I was still finishing my undergrad, and now I'm on my last semester.


    I have taken a few grad classes and I have like 1 or 2 more I'm gonna take and so far it seems do-able but at the same time it just seems like the grad students are so much further ahead than me sometimes. Its like I'll have to mull a problem over for awhile and they seem to immediately know what to do and how to do it. I think kinda like what Pinny was saying

    Pinnywas really intimidating because the grad students knew so much more but it is a great experience.


    I guess I still have a ways to go before im really ready.
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    Sep 30, 2010 10:52 PM GMT
    amar_m saidMED SCHOOL KICKED ME IN THE NUTS!!! icon_sad.gif Pardon, caps


    Sorry to hear that but not surprised. I have 2 friends in Med school and they said at first they were getting destroyed but they seem to be doing better now
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    Sep 30, 2010 10:54 PM GMT
    Thank you everyone for responding!

    Good luck in your programs to those still going and Congrats to those of you who have already made it icon_biggrin.gif

    Slowly Breaking the Closet Doors
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    Sep 30, 2010 10:59 PM GMT
    I just started and it is more intensive than undergraduate. Lots of reading and more challenging. Also my fellow students are super smart and motivated, cause their was an intense selection at the door. Unlike during my undergraduate courses.
  • tennsjock

    Posts: 349

    Oct 01, 2010 5:08 AM GMT
    I can't speak for other departments, but I'm pretty sure my experience is typical of physics grad school. Yes, it's WAAAY more difficult than undergrad courses. The pacing is pretty intense, and it's so easy to get overwhelmed. But I enjoyed my courses so much more, and the other grad students and I became really close. I didn't have any non-physics friends for the first two years of grad school!

    Like a lot of my peers, I was burnt out on schooling by the time I finished undergrad. 16 yrs of non-stop school was enough! So I worked in a completely unrelated field - public policy - before going back to grad school. I gave myself the chance to reflect and determine if I really wanted to be a physicist. I totally loved my job but discovered that, yes, I really want to go back to school and get my graduate degree. So on the one hand, I was really behind because I'd been out of school (and out of practice) for four years! On the other hand, I was much more focused during my first and second year courses than many of classmates. The time off was definitely worth it!

    What field are you going into?
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    Oct 01, 2010 10:12 PM GMT
    My professor sat us all down today and gave us the chat.

    He explained why we are all doing so poorly with our scores. Are scores are all concurrent with each other's, which is good, but he is not training us to be healthcare practicioners just to look in a book for the answer. He wants us to problem solve analytically.

    Like he explained, if you are used to having a high GPA in undergrad don't expect it here. All we care about is that you understand the material effectively enough to relate this to the patient's pathology.
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    Oct 01, 2010 10:25 PM GMT
    hauptstimme saidMy professor sat us all down today and gave us the chat.

    He explained why we are all doing so poorly with our scores. Are scores are all concurrent with each other's, which is good, but he is not training us to be healthcare practicioners just to look in a book for the answer. He wants us to problem solve analytically.

    Like he explained, if you are used to having a high GPA in undergrad don't expect it here. All we care about is that you understand the material effectively enough to relate this to the patient's pathology.


    I'm oddly looking forward to that now that you've mentioned it. I think its more important to try and get the material understood and in undergrad its more like what tricks can you remember or come up with to get an A.
  • BeNiHiKoU

    Posts: 250

    Oct 01, 2010 10:40 PM GMT
    ...Well... There's not much to write that has not already been covered... Except may be not fooling yourself into waiting too long to start thinking about the subject of your thesis - if you are to write one, that is!...

    DO NOT PROCRASTINATE: I know you already know that from undergrad, but it's of the essence for grad school. Plan your time accordingly to cover all the assigned reading materials. Talking of which: by now, you've probably come to realize how staggering the amount of assigned readings truly is! However, you'd be doing your damn self a sorry disservice if you limited yourself to that only!!... Hence the importance of wisely managing your time and reading 'smartly', as many other suggested in their posts!... Learning how to critically skim through the material is key to pin-point and assimilate essential points; it will also allow you to save precious time for doing some relevant readings on your own. Yeah! I know-I know: you gonna end up feeling like your weekly reading routine has been set on 'round-trip' mode, but it will be beneficial in all manners of run - short as well as long!!
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    Oct 01, 2010 10:42 PM GMT
    One more comment about law school. Everyone here is more than willing to lie or to cheat for their own personal gain. In just the first 6 weeks I have seen people's morality, values and integrity begin to fly right out the window.

    Finally, I feel right at home!
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    Oct 01, 2010 10:55 PM GMT
    fastfreddie saidOne more comment about law school. Everyone here is more than willing to lie or to cheat for their own personal gain. In just the first 6 weeks I have seen people's morality, values and integrity begin to fly right out the window.

    Finally, I feel right at home!


    Haha my whole family is made of lawyers and politicians.. You'd be right at home in it icon_razz.gif *wink wink* lol
  • Kev67

    Posts: 60

    Oct 02, 2010 6:31 AM GMT
    I went to the same university for both undergrad and grad school, and stayed in the same course of study, but it was very different in grad school. They treat you like an adult and seem to actually want you to be there, and be interested in what you think.

    Definitely as others have mentioned, the amount of reading is out of control. At first I tried to read everything, but eventually realized it was physically impossible. You have to be strategic, learn how to attack the material in a productive way, look for summaries, and train your eye to zero in on the important items. Once I accepted that, I had a better time, but still had to work my ass off to get by. It seemed that way for everybody though, so don't beat yourself up and think you're the only one struggling.

    Through all of it I learned some good research habits that have been useful in the "real world." There always seems to be piles of information to review and synthesize, so learning how to tackle that in school is a useful skill.
  • OklahomaBreak...

    Posts: 167

    Oct 02, 2010 7:58 AM GMT
    fastfreddie saidJust started law school about a month ago and it's kicking my ass. The amount of reading is staggering.


    I am in my second year of law school after 2 Bachelors and a Masters, well I have 1 class left. The reading aspect in law school is staggering. I would have to say both Masters and law school is amazing. More work than a person ever will need, but it's very worthwhile. Your professors are your future colleagues so they can be approached that way. It is amazing how different it is. You will gain so much by a further education I very much endorse it.
    Moonraker I am in law school in Okla. I almost went to OU, but decided on TU. What are you studying?