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How long does it take you to adjust to grad school?

  1. Nov 16, 2009 #1
    I just started my first year PhD program this semester, so I've been here for almost 3 months now. Adjusting to grad school was harder than I thought, especially when there's not much help from the department. Settling in a new place and depending totally on my self (financially) took some time, but I'm more or less ok with it now. Adjusting to graduate classes was also difficult. And it didn't help that the class I'm in right now is said (by upperclassmen who are also in the class) to be one of the worse class ever taught.
    Only recently that I feel more comfortable about grad school life.
    Is it normal to take this long to adjust? How was your experience when starting grad school?

    And today I met with a professor in the department in an elevator. I introduced myself as a first year grad student. He asked me how I'm settling in. I told him I'm familiar with most of it now; although I'm still adjusting to some part of it. He asked where I'm from, and I told him I did my undergraduate in the US. (I'm an international student though.)
    So he said that I have to have been here for at least four years. Then he said "If you're not adjusted by now you never will".

    I was not sure what he meant at the time. I answered his question thinking he was talking about grad school. Now I'm not sure. Am I thinking too much about his comment?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2009 #2


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    You're probably thinking too much about his comment.

    When I started graduate school, one of the big differences I noticed was that you're a lot more independent than in undergraduate. When you start undergraduate school they have a "week of welcome" (which I suppose is the new age version of frosh week), where all sorts of events are held to introduce the new students to the various clubs on campus, get to know the people in your dorms, parties, campus tours, concerts, pep rallies, etc.

    As a grad student they might hold a departmental meeting and introduce you to the rest of the faculty. Learning about your environment is something you more or less have to do on your own. On top of that you have to take some of the most challenging courses you'll ever take in your life.

    Most schools have some sort of graduate student organizations. Getting involved can help you meet people and take the stresses off of the adjustment. Other student organizations might have need of someone to assume a leadership position, or you can spend some time volunteering or even get a part-time job that can help with the financial strain.
  4. Nov 17, 2009 #3
    Unfortunately, many graduate programs forbid having another form of employment, although tutoring is supposedly overlooked at many places
  5. Nov 17, 2009 #4


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    In some sense I feel the same way. I'm also a first year grad student. It took me a while to get used to the workload. I found it especially tough to balance my teaching duties and classes in the beginning. However, I find it's getting easier now that I have been here for a few months.

    I think your adjustment period is normal. Also, don't take the professors comment seriously. I have a feeling he was making a facetious joke about life in grad school, not a serious comment about your ability to adjust.
  6. Nov 17, 2009 #5


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    It took me about two years to settle in and feel comfortable with grad school. And anyway, don't get too comfortable; you have to leave soon.

    Don't worry about that prof in the elevator. He/she sounds like a pompous @$$.

    The best thing that helped me was to get together with my fellow sufferers. You can start with the obvious homework group, and then, if you decide that some of them are not completely detestible, you can go out for drinks, have cookouts, etc.. Before you know it, it will all be over.
  7. Nov 17, 2009 #6
    It took me about 2 hours to get used adapt to grad school. The work required for grad school is only a fraction of what was required for my undergrad so to me its like being on a long vacation.
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