How is grad school different than undergrad?

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How is grad school different than undergrad?

Post by TopHatFox » Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:12 pm

I'm particularly interested in the difference between a four year liberal arts college and an MBA or M.A. -- no phD for me, thanks. This could be differences in culture, expectations, financial aid, time of completion, living arrangements, etc. If you've had both a undergrad and grad experience, how were they different for you?
Last edited by TopHatFox on Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: How is grad school different than college?

Post by Laura Ingalls » Sat Jun 11, 2016 5:22 pm

That is a very broad question.

My grad school program was small and we all had the same classes mostly since we had 3 credits of electives out of 70 semester credits. We went to class together, studied together, and socialized together. I also remember being brutally broke which I wasnt in undergrad.

Someone else is going to say they had a lucrative assistantship and fluid schedule and never hung out with their classmates.

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Re: How is grad school different than college?

Post by TopHatFox » Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:34 am

Guess everyone on here doesn't really like grad school in place of income? :lol:

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Re: How is grad school different than undergrad?

Post by blackbird » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:41 am

For my undergraduate, I double majored in history and geography, and also worked full-time and to the fullest extent possible attempted to take advantage of "the college experience". This wasn't partying or anything like that, but participating in clubs, social activities, and campus organizations. Overall, I felt like my undergraduate studies satisfied a requirement for getting a broad education and providing opportunities to experience a wide range of activities and interactions.

After college I worked for a private company for a few years and then returned to take an MA in history. This was a completely different experience. While I received one of the very few assistantships available to our department, my entire existence was devoted to my coursework. I was waiting at our library each morning when it opened, and I remained there until my classes began in the evening or at night. My typical days were 8 am to 8 pm 5x a week, with a significant amount of work done on the weekends. Money was carefully portioned out, I packed my lunch, and rarely did much other than read, write, or attend class.

For me, grad school was serious business. I loved it, but I would NOT suggest it for anyone casually interested. Succeeding in grad school requires a certain amount of personal sacrifice with the knowledge that intellectual satisfaction may be the only reward waiting for you down the road.

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Re: How is grad school different than undergrad?

Post by jacob » Wed Jun 15, 2016 10:13 am

In Europe, masters degrees aren't really considered part of grad school, so they'll have the same feel/vibe/etc. as advanced undergraduate classes.

If the students change, the feel of the class can change significantly.

Compare students from a competitive school to students from podunk college.
Compare freshly minted undergrads to people with several years of real work experience.
Compare students from the physics department to the students from the business and economics department.

Some/most masters degrees will require you to write a dissertation.

For STEM, these vary from 3 months to 12 months in length. The experience of this will depend a lot on your project, the attitude of your advisor, and even the school system. The main difference with a thesis is that you're moving away from classes and closed-end textbook problems which can be solved in a couple of hours at the worst to semi-closed research projects where finding the answer will likely take months. You will to a large degree still be able to get the answer from your supervisor (unlike phd school) because projects are selected for that (hence semi-closed). I recall some students (especially those who were used to getting straight As) who found it frustrating that they were no longer able to find the answer by applying their intelligence exclusively to the contents the textbook and be done at the end of the day.

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Re: How is grad school different than undergrad?

Post by SimpleLife » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:00 pm

I am in an AACSB accredited, top 5%, etc. MBA program, and am toward the end of my program. The classes seem tougher to some extent but it really depends on your instructor. I had brutal Managerial Accounting and Advanced Micro-economic Theory instructors that were absolutely terrible. Their reviews online were terrible as well but they were the only ones who had the courses available when I needed them. Other instructors are very easy on the workload. My grades are pretty comparable to undergrad from subject to subject. That said, a lot of my class mates are worn out and dropping their concentration/emphasis programs. All I hear is, "I just want to be done!" every week.

The thought has crossed my mind as well, dropping my CIS emphasis. It's a whopping two extra classes, so I'm not sure that it really adds much value. Might look good on paper but I too really just want to get this piece of paper over with and go back to practical application of what I've learned in my investment strategy. Also, I'd much rather invest the extra time and money into a law degree, but alas, my brother made a good point to me the other day that the MBA is an international credential, and it's easy to travel/work with that degree. My apologies, did you want this in APA format? :mrgreen:

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Re: How is grad school different than undergrad?

Post by TopHatFox » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:59 pm

hee hee, I found a highly entertaining (and angry) education rant:

My generation is snapping their fingers in agreement I imagine!

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Re: How is grad school different than undergrad?

Post by denise » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:21 pm

I live the same way now, as I did in grad school, except I don't have a roommate. I make a lot more money, but I save the extra.

I basically see undergrad as teaching you how to think and learning how you learn individually, in the higher courses, if you have great professors.

I see grad school as how to tackle problems, given that you now know how to think and learn.

Now that I work for a living, I see work as how to fix other people's problems.

This has a lot to do with what I studied; math, urban planning, civil engineering, and what I do for a living; urban planning, transit planning, and transportation engineering.

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Re: How is grad school different than undergrad?

Post by CS » Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:22 pm

"Grad school" is a huge range of types of experiences.

MBAs seem more like undergrad degrees - take a bunch of classes, get your paper.

A MFA is a lot more 'doing' than a MA or MS. The latter two are 'take a lot of classes, do a small project, get your paper.' MFA is 'do a lot of stuff, including possibly a big project, get your paper'.

PhD is basically 'do one big project that ideal should be the basis of your career afterwards, get your paper', at least for the latter half. At the very least, it should teach the skills you need for the projects you'll work on for the rest of your career. The first two years are basically a MS or MA.

I have four grad degrees. The PhD and MFA were the funnest experiences, because they were more about doing. I made the most money from the other two.

It really depends on what you want out of grad school. I sometimes wish I had finished working in my old field before doing the MFA. That work (writing) is what I really want to do now, and I feel like I'm stuck doing my "homework" (achieving financial security) that I didn't complete earlier.

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