Transitioning

Tiffany Yang

I attended the Student Advocates for Nutrition (SAN) Thanksgiving dinner last week and was told that when several of them helped out at the SPH prospective student day, many of the prospective students expressed worry about transitioning into graduate school life. Now, I know that the posts on this blog from all the various students may seem like all we do are attend seminars and events and sit around and talk about public health issues (tangent: it is really weird how this can happen. I never sat around as an undergrad and chatted with classmates about peroxisomes or gap junctions. Now, I find myself in conversations about dietary guidelines and the pros and cons of vitamin supplements) but we also spend time doing other stuff.

One of my classmates, a Master’s student in Human Nutrition, does ballroom dancing and she’s in Ohio this weekend for a competition. Me, I spend a lot of time cooking and preserving. I know other people who still have time to read, travel, play sports, go to gallery openings or pursue other diversions. Still others do amazing things with their time and volunteer, work, or be a parent. One of my classmates is taking 18 credits and is a parent. Parents in school are just amazing. If she can do it, you can too.

Yeah, you may be tempted to say that it’s going to be harder just because it is graduate school but this isn’t necessarily the case. Things are a bit more intense in terms of how much you need to know, but you will be surprised at how much the grades are adjusted on exams. At this point, you are making the choice to go to graduate school to learn more, not to get more A’s. Don’t get me wrong, I still want A’s, but I’m not as concerned about spending the exponentially greater amount of time needed to get the A although I usually panic a day or two before the exam and study like mad. But those hours still don’t add up to the insane amount of studying I did as an undergrad in order to “qualify” for graduate school. Glad those crazy days are behind me. However, I have classmates who are still crazy about studying and grades. They obsess over little details in lecture notes and amp-up for exams weeks before they are slated to occur. Is this normal? Only if you think it is. It’s different for everyone.

In terms of class, classes are classes. I didn’t know anything about public health or nutrition before I started and I’m learning everything right now. It’s definitely a bit scary to jump into something that I know nothing about, but that’s what classes are for! And, incidentally, I hear that the transition from 1st year to 2nd year is much more abrupt and crazy than the transition from undergrad to grad school.

Basically, things are not going to change that much except you get to say “graduate” in front of “student” when people ask you what you’re doing with your life and you get to learn lots of really cool stuff.

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