Hey there! I’m glad you’re considering Maxwell as you start your grad school application journey (or if you’re just browsing around, welcome!) My job is to offer you some knowledge and two cents about what to expect/look forward to/dread in the upcoming months (the process is long and tedious but worth it in the end.)
To my knowledge, I am responsible for the first blog post of the year; it would be fitting for me to then delve into GRE test taking or personal statement writing tips, but the advice I’d have to offer is jaded and typical. No, instead my blog post is geared towards a particular faction within the application pool, those that are applying here straight out of undergrad.
I’m 22 years old. It was about this time last year where I had seriously considered applying to graduate school and thus started asking around for advice. Left and right whether professors, my parents, or friends, I was told that it would be in my interest to wait off on going to graduate school; I had no real job experience except for some research projects in undergrad and would not gain as much as a result; I’d be the “baby” of the group and not taken seriously; the financial strains.
Well, I’m here to tell you that they were all wrong.
Of course, graduate school is difficult and by no means the same as undergrad. The content and readings are more dense and time consuming. Professors are big suckers for the hard worker and are no longer impressed by sheer brilliance alone (because in the end, when you do leave your graduate program, not just what you do but how well you do it, is largely a reflection of that graduate program.) And whereas in undergrad many students are just going through the motions, you’re finally surrounded by people that are all motivated and want to be there too.
About 10% of this year’s cohort came straight from undergrad. However, I speak for all of us when I say that our age hasn’t been disadvantageous. We may lack “typical” job experience but are just as eager to learn. If anything, I think it’s many times better to come from undergrad. I am accustomed to reading hundreds of pages a night or writing essay after essay. Many of my peers have been out of school for a handful of years and getting back into the school grind for them can take some time. My older peers are eager to learn from me as much as I am to learn from them. While I learn to avoid mistakes made by them from them, I teach them how to use Snapchat. When push comes to shove, the older peers have treated us (the “babies,”) like family and really do genuinely look out for us.
Lastly (and this one is geared towards the parents of children fresh out of undergrad, where the thought of your child being plagued by debt is consumes your mind) yes, graduate school is an investment. If your child were to postpone for a year or two, surely they could save up a good chunk of change and use that towards their education instead of taking out loans. But here at Maxwell, if you’re persistent, they will deliver. I was extremely fortunate to receive a graduate assistantship and many others both young and old have received similar GAships, merit aid, fellowships, what have you. I cannot overemphasize this last point enough: especially at Maxwell, faculty and staff want you to succeed and be happy, they will find a way to help so long as you ask. It also goes without saying that upon your graduation from any graduate program, for the most part, you’ll have a definite edge (read: better employment and pay prospects,) then your fellow younger applicants.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but for this next chapter in your life, only you have the answer. When push comes to shove, if you want to go to grad school now, then go.