by anne b.
Greetings Ramblers! I hope you are having a lovely and productive week. On my side, I have been in a very unproductive mood and am currently writing this blog in order to further procrastinate the hours of homework I have to do. Surprisingly, I actually don’t have as much homework as I did back in undergraduate school, but somehow, I am even less motivated to do it.
Back in undergrad, I usually had homework assignments every week. Some of them took a lot of time while some of them only took 20 minutes. Most of my time revolved around school and my part-time job was only 10 hours a week. Now that I’m in graduate school, I’ve had to split my time and attention differently.
For my graduate program, most of my credits come from working on research at my lab. I only need three actual classes (9 credits) in order to complete my M.Sc. So, instead of spending most of my days in class and only 10 hours at work, I actually spend most of my time at the office working on my research project. As classes go, this semester I am taking two classes: Advanced Endocrinology and Gastrophysiology/Pathophysiology.
My Endo class meets every Monday and Wednesday late afternoons so I will still spend the day at work before class. For this class, we usually have a different professor every class, except for longer topics, which is very different than undergrad classes. At first, it was a little weird and hard to follow for me. Now, however, I don’t mind it and actually kind of like it because we get to learn from different professors and each of them are experts on the topic that they are teaching us. What I really don’t like about this class, though, is that 65% of our grade is based on our final and only exam. Part of me is glad that we only have one test to worry about, but most of me is terrified that the majority of my grade depends on one exam that covers all the countless topics we are going to learn this semester.
My Gastrophys class meets every Thursday evenings. Just like the rest of the week, I will go to the lab before class and work on my research. Unlike my Endo class, this class has no tests at all. I am extremely happy about that part, but this class also requires more time throughout the semester because we have to do at least 6 homework assignments. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? That’s what I thought until I realized how long each assignment takes. The homework assignments have to include at least 5 references and are usually two pages minimum. I definitely learn a lot from doing each assignment and they usually are very interesting, but I’m honestly struggling to find the motivation to do them.
Now that I’ve complained about my classes thoroughly, a common thing that I’ve noticed in both classes is that the professors don’t respond to their email or take a very long time. Many graduate professors are also researchers and are extremely busy. Most of them also receive at least 100-200 emails per day. My advice to any graduate student in this situation is to make sure to fill out the subject line on your email. Also, if it is an urgent email, don’t be afraid to mark it as important! If a professor still doesn’t respond after a couple of days, send a follow-up email. If your email was about something that other students might be able to answer, I would definitely reach out to your classmates.
Last week, I emailed my Gastrophys teacher asking on how we were supposed to form groups for our group presentation projects. He never answered. Since some of our homework assignments are discussions, we have a discussion area on our course page. I was actually looking through the discussions to get inspired to do my own homework when I noticed that a lot of the new posts weren’t actually the homework assignment but students looking for team members. So, I emailed one of those students and I am now in a group of 5. Even though we have no idea what we’re supposed to do, I am excited to meet up with my group because I don’t know anyone in this class and this will help me make new friends!
I don’t know if I just got unlucky or if it’s a common thing, but so far, I feel like graduate classes are much less organized. You really have to work hard to keep up with classes and knowing what is due and when it is due. There are no more reminder emails on upcoming assignments or study sessions offered by TAs or professors. Coming into graduate school, I knew that I would have to push myself to study consistently, but I didn’t think I would have to figure out all the assignments and group projects by myself too.
Luckily, I am definitely one of those people that will just pick a random person from my class list and reach out to them when the professors don’t answer their emails. I know sometimes it can be awkward and intimidating to reach out to someone you don’t know, but you just need to remember that this will probably benefit your learning, your grades, and you just might make a new friend!
If you’re in a graduate program that involves conferences or networking events, there is a good chance that you will miss a couple of classes. This is where making acquaintances in your classes comes in real handy. For instance, I am actually out of town from Wednesday to Friday this week, which means I am missing two classes: one of my Endo classes and my Gastrophys class.
Now that I have my presentation group for Gastrophys, I can just message them to see what I missed. For my Endo class, however, I haven’t really talked to anyone yet but I always sit next to the same person, so I will probably be asking them at the start of class next week.
Well Ramblers, that is all the updates I have for you related to graduate school! Even though it can be a lot of work and sometimes very frustrating, I am learning about some very interesting topics and new ways to apply my learnings to clinical cases.
With that, please send some good vibes to help me ace these classes and ramble on!