9 Things to Know Before Grad School


Graduate School has this ominous tone about it... when I was an undergraduate I felt like Grad school was one of those things that everyone talked about, but I had no real idea of what Grad school encapsulated. 

After being a grad student for over a year now, I think about things that I would want to know before applying to Grad school. 

Here are 9 things you should know about Grad School:

1. Know that this is what you really want to do

Grad school is expensive. It takes a lot of  money, time, and energy to pay for school. Make sure that you are making a wise investment. If you are considering grad school becuase you are not sure what career you want to do... don't do grad school yet! Get job experience, interview professionals in the fields you are considering. Grad school should not be a cop-out to becoming an adult and entering the real world. Do your research and make sure that your degree is necessary to the career you want. If it is not, I would say consider other career moves other than grad school.... unless you're rich and want a master's degree... go for it!

2. It takes more time to study and do classes than you might think

I was thinking, "Ok, it might be like 10 hours a wee to do grad school". I was wrong- 10 hours a week is just the time that I spend in class for my grad program (virtually of course, dang Covid). If you are a good student you are going to spend 3 or 4 hours a week doing homework for each class (ex. if you have 5 classes and are doing 4 hours of homework a week for each class, that's 20 hours a week). So ultimately, you could spend 25-30 hours a week doing grad school. If you are an okay student, you might do 15 to 20 hours of grad school each week. 

In other words, get ready to do A LOT of school. 

3. It's expensive

As I mentioned before, Grad school costs money. Make sure that you are in a good financial situation before doing grad school. If you do not have money saved, look up different loans, scholarships, and other supports to pay for school. 

4. It can be difficult to get in

This is not always the case, but I know for me it was difficult to get accepted into a program! Marriage and Family Therapy Programs are competitive in Southern California! There may be some programs that are more difficult to get into than others... but I just want to warn you that you may apply to 10 different schools, and only get accepted to one. 

5. Textbooks are also expensive

Yes, you probably already knew this. I am going to write another post about how to get textbooks for cheap or free, but know that textbooks are typically very expensive. This semester I could have potentially spent almost $500 on textbooks alone! Just remember this expense when you are figuring out your budget for school.  

6. Your classmates are your future co-workers and competition

I've heard this phrase before, but I feel like it has not related to me as much as it has in Grad School. My peers are people that I will likely work with in the mental health field. My peers will likely be colleagues that I work in the same practice with or refer clients to. My peers are also my competition. I recently applied to Practicum programs (internship for Marriage and Family Therapist Trainees). I was applying to the same positions as my peers. We are competing for jobs. 

This is good to keep in mind because it is important to develop relationships with your fellow students. They can be a great support for your current studies and future career. 

7. Most programs expect you to be a full-time student

This is not always the case, but most programs I applied to expected me to be a full-time student in which I did not work (or if I did work it was very very part-time). Does this work for you? Do you need to work in order to pay for school? Consider this when you are applying to different programs. 

8. Not every grad program is the same

Like I mentioned before, every Graduate program is very different. There are different amount of years, different amount of course, and various tuition costs. Even if you are applying to  Psychology program to 10 different schools. Each of those programs are going to be different from each other. This may help you figure out which program you want to apply to. Maybe certain programs emphasis areas of study you want to work in. 

9. You can do it!

With all this said, YOU CAN DO IT! There is a lot think about and there is a lot to do. BUT, you are capable of doing grad school. If you are feeling inadequte, I want to encourage you to talk to people who have gone to grad school. Hopefuly, they can ease some of your anxieties about this process. 

I personally believe that grad school has been a great expereince for me. I feel very prepared going into my future career. I am excited to see where this journey takes me, and I am excited to see where this journey takes you! I know you are going to do great things!

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