Grad School from a Grad Student

Lately it seems like I’ve been answering more and more questions from co-workers and friends about why I decided to attend grad school and how I went about the process. Since I have loved every moment of my grad school career, I have been happy to pass along any words of wisdom and advice I have accumulated on the way.

So, if you’re still on the fence about attending a graduate program of any kind, here are some (obviously biased) things to consider:

Room for personal growth: Starting out, I don’t think I had any idea how much room for self-exploration and growth this opportunity would provide me. Although this might be more concentrated in programs like mine (Counseling Psychology), the more in-depth discussion style of classes has helped me explore thoughts and biases I didn’t even know existed.

Relationships with like-minded people: In undergrad I had a very close group of friends who I had many things in common with- unfortunately, my passion for psychology related topics wasn’t one of them. Through grad school I’ve formed relationships with people who share this interest, people I feel really comfortable “nerding out” with about really cool counseling theories or techniques.

Assistantship opportunities: Although I’ve learned a lot of really valuable information in classes, I think the best practical experience I’ve gotten so far has been through my graduate assistantship. Even though my job here at the MU Career Center isn’t 100% directly related to my emphasis in School Counseling, I’ve been able to gain tons of applicable practice in talking to customers as clients as well as leadership opportunities I wouldn’t have experienced elsewhere. Not to mention, you get to meet a lot of really cool people. J

Professional development opportunities: This was something I definitely did not have the opportunity to do in undergrad- however, I know many programs here at MU require these types of experiences so I might be one of the few that didn’t. In most grad programs, professional development experiences and conferences are highly valued and often completely paid for (which is always a bonus). These types of opportunities have really helped me narrow down exactly what I want to do and have given me an insight into the day-to-day operations of my future career.

I know there is a plethora of information out there about why or why not to attend grad school that probably doesn’t contain these examples. However, from an insider’s perspective, I think these are the most valuable parts of the experience I’ve had so far. Of course, the typically represented reasons for attending grad school (career advancement, research opportunities, higher pay, etc.) are extremely important as well, but for some (possibly you) these might be the exact opportunities they are looking for to make a more definitive decision.