The most common portrayals of college life and graduate life that has been favored by the mainstream and independent cinemas can be likened to the Euclidean geometry’s idea of parallel lines. They never meet. They may look as if they were similar because they both travel along the planes of getting an education. However, the list of similarities stop at that.
The life of a college student and that of the graduate student are located at different ends of a spectrum. The most obvious distinction is the age of the person who is getting a college degree and that of the person who is seeking an education beyond his bachelor’s degree in a certain field.
But age has a tendency to be a difference that has no significance no matter how it can be the most obvious one at the same time. Some people approaching the twilight of their teenage years do not need to have a fake ID before people think that they can consume alcohol. Some who are living in the early years of the third decade of their lives can look as if they were in their mid-twenties already while some are blessed with the genes that give them a baby face look.
In various movies, the life of a college student is peppered by summer affairs and vibrant fraternity parties that have a stash of liquor that can last an average person’s lifetime. There is loud hip hop music and there are sometimes the joints and pills that are supposed to take a person from his stressful life to one that is colorful.
While that element may also be present in the movies about graduate students, the reason is often different. There is a desperate need to get away. Drinking liquor also has a different reason behind it and where it happens is usually a place with a gloomier atmosphere.
The life of a graduate can be likened to the night, too. Dark. However, that should not discourage a person but instead serve as a guide on what not to do whether this depiction by Hollywood is an exaggeration or an honest one.
Some people decide to jump into graduate school as a means of escape from the responsibilities that come with living an actual life. That is a twisted thought that is nevertheless true. But what exactly are differences between being in graduate school and living in an adult world?
Getting out of bed is a struggle to many. But unlike having a full time job carries the requirement of getting up early in the morning five days of every week of the year, being in graduate school gives a person an option to sleep in because his classes do not start until the hours that follow lunchtime. A graduate student also does not have to spend too much time choosing what clothes to wear because there is no dress code. As long as it is comfortable, it is good enough.
There is also no need to clock in on time because failing to do so not only means more deductions from the paycheck and warnings from his boss then the looming threat and possibility of being fired. While skipping classes in graduate school also bears not so good consequences, there is actually not much reason to do so because a class only last a couple of hours at maximum and a school day does not follow the itineraries of a nine-to-fiver.
And more importantly, an academic school year only last nine months compared to working every month of the year. That means summertime awaits to accommodate other activities.
Working means earning money while studying means being buried further in the pits of student loans and growing interest rates. However, a job often entails doing things that are against your principles while being a graduate student means more time to cultivate these principles and actually making contributions in changing the world for the better.
There is no need to hurry about being an adult. After all, the rest of your life is your adult life. Building strong foundations can only prepare a person and with proper preparation comes a better life.
There is one nugget of truth about getting a college education that most people choose to just toss aside. Hundreds of thousands of mothers and fathers along with their daughters and sons are buying into the belief that earning a college degree is synonymous to earning a free pass through the gates of American dream. This tossing aside is not a conscious decision in most cases, though. The said nugget of truth is more often than not eclipsed by the harsh realities that have been attached to earning a college diploma.
Parents who send their sons and daughters to colleges are overwhelmed with the worry that comes with student loans and their growing interest rates. There are also parents who send their dear children to colleges that are located in distant cities or in other states. These parents worry round the clock about their girls and boys spending more time enjoying college life far too much than actually studying.
On the other hand, the young men and women who hop into college with the intentions of breaking free from their parents in order for them to be able to party every Friday and Saturday nights are closer to the said nugget of truth. College is about independence.
However, this kind of independence is still too comfortable with the presence of dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses. The college students who after graduation day transition into graduate school either to earn a master’s degree or, later in life, a doctorate degree are bound to face a more obstacle-filled path towards an independent life.
Not only do some start working actual jobs during their years in graduate school, but moving into an apartment is a rite of passage that everyone must go through. Living in an apartment, although shared with college friends or strangers, means grown up budgeting. There are grown up pieces of furniture to be had, grown up meals to be cooked and bills to be paid, above all else.
Going into graduate school does not mean getting more educated in a certain field. It is a more difficult yet more rewarding training for the adult world.
The student population of every graduate school is composed of two principal groups. It should be noted that this categorization goes beyond identifying students according to their gender, race or nationality (There are students who prefer the American curriculum to what the graduate schools in their home countries offer) and the economic status of their mothers and fathers. It is not about who has to apply for various student loans and find then juggle part-time jobs after school hours. Neither is this classification relying on whether a particular graduate student’s resume lists an Ivy League school or otherwise. The two principal groups that make up a graduate school’s student population is based on their purposes and intentions.
The most common stereotype of graduate students is that they are hungry for more education. Academic and formal education, that is. While this stereotype holds a large amount of truth, it has a tendency to dismiss the actual intentions behind a graduate school student’s decision to hop onto that boat after four or five years in college. After all, is it not every student’s wish, when he was still in junior or senior high school, for school to finally be over in order for him to do what he truly wants to do? Well, people change.
To the many graduate school students who make up the first principal group, getting a post-college education is merely another step towards reaching the gates of their dream careers. A fraction of this first group are indeed attending graduate school to gather more knowledge while the other fraction attends graduate school because a masters or a doctorate degree is a requirement if they want to climb the ladder of the corporate world.
The second group, though, is comprised of students who are in graduate school because they do not know where else to go. They are still searching for who they are and are postponing having to deal with being an adult. It can be likened to an extended puberty and there is nothing wrong with it.
Being categorized into these two groups, though, should not be a reason to not interact with those who belong to the other group. Some people live life in haste while some are cautious and take their time. What is most important, as with other categorizations of people, is to be open to learning from each other’s strengths.
College education has become more of a privilege than a right. Those who have families that are financially blessed tread a smoother path to earning that college diploma. But all of these things change when one steps into graduate school. The number of required units in earning a master’s degree may be lesser compared to earning a bachelor’s degree. However, the tuition and the living expenses are not necessarily cheaper in comparison to the four or five years at university.
A huge number of students who are pursuing graduate studies are already working actual jobs or are juggling several part time jobs. This is not because they have a lot of free time. In an ideal word, any amount of time outside of the classroom is time for studying, doing research and writing that academic paper. Sadly, though, education is not free.
Students learn to make ends meet. But some choose to work so they can start paying their student loans. That intention alone is not enough, thought.
Keeping track of your balance and payment status is important. Such details determine the options you have regarding loan repayment and loan forgiveness. It is also crucial to get in touch with your lender, whether it is the federal government or a private institution.
There are students who are showered with more than enough money but spend it on luxuries instead because they know that they have a grace period before they are required to make their first payment after graduation. It is only wise to start saving up that money instead of applying for another student loan when the time comes to do the research on your dissertation.
If a graduate student decides to paying his student loans during his college years so he has less to worry about in the future, it is best to start paying off the most expensive of student loans first. It means that they do not grow pregnant with interest rates.
Many are left with no choice but to apply for student loans if they are truly passionate about pushing through with their education. After all, graduate studies not just adds a suffix to a name, they also sprinkle glitters to a resume.