So after much deliberation you have decided to go in for the long haul, shun the world outside and join a graduate program. Now don’t get me wrong, a grad program can be very rewarding, especially when you consider the impact it can have on your future professional endeavors. Additionally, there is always an immense sense of achievement and let’s accept it a feeling of one-upmanship, when you get to level up your academic feats. But there is a darker side to the grad life, a little spoken ‘Grad School Curse’. A side we hear about sometimes, but usually undermine till the life of a grad student engulfs us as a whole, and it is too late to do anything about it. This dark side changes your entire world and makes you into a being devoid of social life. To elaborate further, in the following list I will try to give you a brief but rather alarming idea about this dark side I speak of.
Remember the days of yore, when you went out with your friends to clubs on the weekend? No? Ding! Ding! Ding! You are probably in grad school. Now most of your Saturday nights will be spent exactly like any of your other nights i.e. buried in books and assignments, most of which you will probably not even get the point of, till forever.
All the fashionable footwear and cute little seasonal outfits you used to put together, well, it is probably a good time to forget all about them, if you are joining a grad school. There is an unspoken rule of almost all grad schools i.e. from around the middle of the first term, every student must find it impossible to carry on with their lives, without being dressed in sweats and trainers.
Although coffee is not a monopoly of the grad students, but the relationship with coffee sure does change when you become one. For now, not only will you depend on it for waking up in the morning and keeping awake for the rest of the day, but your visits to coffee shops will probably be made to finish your assignments at a different location. The only coffee dates you will have now, will probably be with your conference papers.
If you are joining grad school, chances are, most of your friends from college won’t follow you down the same path. In that case, be ready to face a barrage of notifications on social media from people, who have a “Life”. Now don’t get disheartened, sure the people you grew up with are getting promotions, buying better cars and partying out on Friday nights, while you are buckling under the pressure of 5 figure student loan (probably) or keeping mind and body barely together to keep that scholarship. But you have the thought of dissertation to keep you cool at night, with the terrible nightmare induced cold sweats.
This is where the darkness of the ‘Grad School Curse’ begins to fade away. Sure at times it might feel like you have no friends and you never leave your room because of the course load, but the friends you make at grad school are some of the most cherished relationships of your lives. It might be because all of you are in the same boat that a feeling of company in misery might unite you all. All the nightmares about dissertations, meetings with supervisors/advisors, the perennial flows of essays and more, create the perfect climate for growing a bond that unites all the hapless grad students together. The friends you make here not only support you through the course, teaching as well as learning from you, they are the support systems who help you sail through the depressing tides of Grad schools. Right from the classrooms, all the way into the working world and beyond, these are the guys you will keep running into, thus, the bonds you foster now, goes to pay on forever.