Dear guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!
Where did this month go? It feels like I was just singing “It’s gonna be May!” and now we are 10 days away from June! With that being said, I know many of you college seniors and grad-school seniors are happy for your day of graduation to finally arrive! Personally, I know my old classmates from my own grad school years are finally ready to get the hell out of school and not have to read another book or write another paper for the rest of their life! (Of course, if you’re not going into academics…)
It’s still surreal that it has almost been a year since I graduated with my Master’s degree and THREE (yes, you saw that right) years since I graduated college with my bachelor’s degree. Little ole me did not know that before 2020, I’d be a woman with two degrees. Maybe in the distant future, I’ll go for my Ph.D., but as of right now I’m just trying to discover what it means to be “Liz: the human being” versus “Liz: the student writer”.
Being the first in my immediate family to graduate both college and grad school, I didn’t really have the guidance through my studies, and a lot of the times I was forced to learn things on my own. Some of those times, I’d be a little too late, but coming out of it now, I wouldn’t change my experience for the world…
Except for a couple of things…
- I wish I had some guidance when it came to my grad-school application progress. Back in high-school, we had a great guidance counselor that guided us through the process of applying to colleges, even to the point where he would sit with us on his office computer applying to colleges with us. It was definitely a lot smoother to transition to college than it was for grad-school, and I hope that more CUNY schools start helping out those who wish to seek higher education. Because of the lack of guidance, I didn’t have much time, nor options, when it came to grad school.
- I wish that there was a class (especially within my college) that focused in on resume building and writing. I know that my former thesis advisor (who came to the college when I was in my junior/senior year of college) started to teach a class dedicated to business writing for undergrads, but I just wish that there was a way where soon-to-be college grads were able to feel more secure with their futures. Maybe, just maybe, then a lot of people who weren’t ready for grad school would’ve waited to get their Master’s instead of forcing to get one just so that they had more time to think what they wanted to do with their lives.
- Particularly in grad school, I wish I knew that it was okay to take a break when you started to feel burned out. Every semester for two years, I wrote 25-40 pages of papers as my two finals for the two classes I would take, and I thought that I absolutely had to write and write and write until I had my desired amount of pages done. I wish I knew that whatever amount of work I put in that day was enough and that I was able to pick up again the next day, because – let’s be honest here – working on a final paper for 12 hours straight is exhausting, and very unhealthy.
- I wish I knew what I was getting myself into when it came to grad school. Again, I felt like I wasn’t mentally prepared for the amount of work that grad school provided (I mean, I had a group presentation assigned to me the first day of grad school and it had to be done by the following class). Because I felt like I was just thrown into the chaos that was grad school, my mental health was definitely affected by it, and a lot of my anxiety developed throughout the two years in grad school. Maybe this was just a “me” thing, but when talking to my fellow students when I was one and then the students as a TA, many of them expressed the same transition from college to grad school being rushed and feeling unprepared.
- Lastly, I wish that I knew that grad school, or any type of degree honestly, doesn’t guarantee you a career, nor a job. Being a slightly above average student in both college and grad school, I focused on my studies rather than getting a part-time job and juggle school at the same time. Did it affect the way employers now see me and my resume? Possibly, but I always had this thought that a Master’s degree was going to secure me a position that I was working towards, yet here we are – a year into the whole job hunting process.
At the end of the day, I am still very grateful for the time I spent in college and grad school and to have met the people who I consider my friends/professional friends now! My experience is unique to me, and I’ll always be proud of the hard work and dedication I put in for 6 straight years without a break.
So, to the Class of 2019, both college and grad-school grads – I applaud you for making it this far. Celebrate your victory, celebrate your future, and celebrate you. I wish I did when I was in your shoes.