Falling in love with work at graduate school

ALEX BOGER Columnist

There’s nothing more vertigo inducing than walking back onto the campus you just graduated from.

When I graduated from SDSU, I had doubts that my education was over. I wasn’t ready to be done with this phase of my life. So when an opportunity came for a master’s position, there I was, walking back onto the campus I thought wouldn’t have changed. Of course, I expected things to be more difficult in graduate school, but I had no idea what kind of a culture shock I was about to experience.

At first glance, it didn’t look like my life was going to change too drastically. Many of my friends were still here, the clubs and activities I did as an undergrad were still churning along, I could still go to all the places I used to go, and I still had classes to take but the classes were harder, the projects and homework were more time consuming and on top of this, I had to design my thesis project, write academic journal articles and work on research for my adviser.

From day one, my adviser told me that graduate school was a job, and I should be in my office working on something 40 hours a week. At first, I expected this to be an exaggeration, but in the end, it turned out to be exactly what I needed to do to succeed in the graduate school environment.

Looking back on my first semester of graduate school now is like looking back at my first semester of undergrad my sophomore year. I couldn’t understand why I found it so difficult. All I had to do was find a routine that worked and stick with it.

Don’t let me scare you away from graduate school. That’s not my intention. Graduate school is a place for people with a deep passion for their work. It is a place to further your dedication to a subject you want to make your life’s work. But it’s not a place to be if you just don’t feel ready for real life. This was the lesson I had to learn.

I had to fall in love with my work all over again. I had to learn that long hours are worth it to see the results roll in for my own projects. I had to start enjoying science again. And I did. Just like my projects, graduate school takes time before the results start showing. And in the end, it’s all worth it.

Alex Boger is an agriculture & biosystems engineering graduate student at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected].