Learning is fun right? Furthering your skill set is awesome! Grad school is a field of daisies…no.
Don’t worry, this will not be 500 words of me complaining about how much school sucks, but it will be a real look at just how much of an emotional roller coaster grad school can be. It has a happy ending though.
Last week I wrote about my new four week class, International Marketing with Dr. Yaprak. In that post I talked about how I hadn’t wanted to go to class and how the long week made 3 hours of class sound painful, but my time in class was actually quite enjoyable. This week’s classes took me for a similar ride, particularly on Tuesday. I drove to campus after a long work day with the thought more work still to be completed after class weighing on my mind. That is not a great mindset to be in when you will be discussing international marketing research and statistics for 3 hours. Stats can be enough of a headache when it is the easy stuff, adding the additional requirements for reliability and validity across nations is cause for an extra dose of caffeine even if you haven’t already completed a 9 hour work day. Despite being exhausted, and honestly a little uninterested in being in class when I walked into the lecture, 20 minutes in I was fully engaged and enjoying the discussion my professor was facilitating. It was still a long class, but my mood was noticeable improved following the lecture. As I drove home that night, the extent to which going back to school places you on an emotional roller coaster struck me. That is not to say that I have not noticed or thought of this in the last year and a half, but the fact that the swing was so drastic and took place in such a short time span was something worth noting.
Going back to school holds plenty of promise, the opportunity of career advancement being one of priority for many students, but the smaller victories and defeats of being back in school tend to be overlooked. Success on a paper, or project, or even in a lecture discussion can take your day from a 2 to a 10. Unfortunately, the opposite can be said for a poorer than expected grade or walking into a test feeling prepared only to find that you studied the wrong material. All of these ups and downs are exhausting, especially when combined with the greater stress of being back in school and the time and effort that goes with it. This is something that I feel many students are not fully expecting when they start a grad school program. They expect the hard work, the long nights, and the frustrations that come with any type of schooling, but may underestimate the number of ups, downs, twists, and turns that accompany the grad school life. It is much more than head down and move towards the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, as I have moved this program I have come to believe that the emotional roller coaster is almost an additional course for student to succeed in. Grad school is more than just what happens in the classroom or in pursuit of class requirements, there are life lessons to be learned even by those who have been in the work force for many year. (For the record, I acknowledge how cheesy that sounds, but I stand by it).
I think I was lucky when I entered my program; I had watched people close to me go through this process before I started and so I had expectations of up and downs, but I still may have underestimated the emotional component of grad school. If I were to give advice to anyone considering grad school, and in particular a MBA, I would address this subject. Be ready to work hard, be ready to commit, and be ready to start a crazy ride.