How Is Going to Grad School Different from Being an Undergrad?


One option after you graduate is to continue your education at grad school. This may seem less intimidating than entering full-time work because it’s more of what you’re used to. Nonetheless, there are some major differences between being an undergrad and a grad student that you should be aware of before you decide to go that route.

The Focus of Your Studies

As an undergrad, you’ll take classes covering a wide range of subjects to meet your general education requirements. At grad school, however, you’ll focus on a specific field that may pave the way for just a few potential careers. You’ll need to have an idea of what you’d like to do to ensure you choose the right program.

Personal Statements for Applications

When you applied for college, the emphasis in your personal statement was on showing you’d be able to manage a heavy course load, achieve good grades, and bring value to the institution. As well as academics, you may have talked about your experiences volunteering, in extracurriculars, and in other areas of life.

In contrast, the purpose of a grad school personal statement is to show how the program would help you meet your career goals. If the program has a focus on research, you’ll also need to discuss your research interests. For instance, you suggest an approach for the project you wish to undertake or talk about your work experience. It can also be helpful to mention particular faculty members at the university and explain why you would like to work with them.

The Complexity of the Courses

As you would expect, classes at grad school are typically more difficult than at undergrad level. In addition, the way professors approach classes tends to be quite different — there may be fewer textbooks and more analysis of source materials. There’s also more practical study with labs, practicums, and perhaps some teaching. All these opportunities allow grad students to demonstrate that they’re able to apply their knowledge.

Tuition Costs

Shorter graduate programs tend to have tuition fees similar to those at undergrad. PhD students, though, often receive funding — either from the university or from an external source — and may receive a stipend. This is important because they’re unable to work full-time for several years.

Self-Directed Study

Studying at undergraduate level is certainly a big step up from high school. For instance, it’s up to you to attend classes and study in your own time to meet due dates for papers or prepare for tests. The transition from undergraduate to grad school is just as big a jump: professors expect you to take initiative and work toward your own goals.

Free Time

A major aspect of college is the social side, partially because this is a time for discovering who you are. The hours tend to be longer at grad school, which leaves much less time for socializing. In addition, many students work part-time alongside their studies, which limits their free time further still.

To attend grad school, you’ll need to be among the top students during your undergrad program. This means studying hard to maximize your GPA and showing a commitment to your academics.

Having a comfortable apartment where you can study hard but also relax when you need a break is key. You’ll find Niagara College student housing that can provide you with everything you need at Foundry Lofts. In addition to a suite fitted with modern finishings, you’ll have access to a fitness center, movie theater, outdoor courtyard, and more. Start your application today while units are still available.

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