Beware of the Nostalgia and Romance When Considering More Schooling

Hi, Caitlin Faas here. I help busy professionals like you integrate graduate school seamlessly into your life with productivity hacks and career direction. In today's video, I wanted to talk about de-romanticizing the idea of graduate school a little bit because when I work with potential clients, sometimes I hear them saying phrases like this,

“Oh, I really miss school. I loved everything about college. I really want to be back in the classroom.”

And they kind of have this image of what was going on during their time in college, maybe a little bit differently than what actually happened. I work with undergraduate students almost every day nine months out of the year. A lot of them are not running around saying like, “Oh this is so great. I just love everything about this.”

But when we’re in the moment, we don't usually see those things. It's looking back on the past and those are some psychological terms from your psychology professor here about when we reflect back on the past and we romanticize it.

If you are thinking about going to graduate school, do you have some of these romantic ideas about it stemming from your past?

How much of that is a realistic perspective about what it will actually be like? And so, ways to find that out would be: have you talked to people in the program that you're thinking about or if you're not ready for a program yet, are you actually talking to people about what their graduate experience was like? Why they went back to school? And not just people who graduated because those are people who are reflecting on the past as well, but people who are in the program right now. Are they somebody who is a first year graduate student? Have you talked to them? What's their experience like right now? For a lot of them, it probably isn't like, “Oh, this is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

They're going to give you a much more realistic perspective both positive and negative, but you're able to walk into it with a more realistic idea.

The other thing about the de-romanticizing this idea of graduate school is making sure that you're coming in from a place of a healthy perspective rather than being frustrated with the situation you're in right now.

Are you thinking, “Graduate school is my way out of the current job I'm in because I'm really frustrated with that?”

Part of that is, why do you want to go to grad school? Is it only the reason to get out of your current situation? And the common phrase we think of for that is “grass is greener on the other side” right? Like, “Oh, if I go to school that'll transport me out of this situation into a new situation and then my problems will be solved.” And we know that doesn't actually happen right? But I hear a lot of people say things like this, so that's why I want to bring it up. When you stop and think about the phrases that you're using, either in your head or you're starting to tell somebody that, do a check and say, “Wait. Is this reality-based?” “Is this a healthy approach?” “Am I approaching it with a good intention rather than a fear intention of ‘I'm frustrated, I want to get out of this situation, I am going to run away from this to do that.’”

Those are two things I want you to consider on your graduate school decision journey and we talk about these issues over in The Vault of Successful Graduate Students. It’s a Facebook group. We'd love to have you join in there and if you're thinking about a program, there's a bunch of people on there to talk to about their experiences.