When I first began my graduate program at W&M last semester, I initially hypothesized that W&M has a similar level of rigor in undergrad and grad school. I thought that maybe that left me more prepared for grad school at W&M than those coming from other institutions because I was used to the pace and level of difficulty. What I found over the semester, was quite the contrary. I was committed to a smaller quantity of things, yet I was busier than I was in undergrad and had less of a social life. However, for a while I could not pin point what was making graduate school more challenging than undergrad. In time I came to a couple conclusions:
1. W&M faculty demand excellence, but as the name suggests, graduate work is more demanding, time-consuming, energy draining, and mentally stimulating.
2. Being in a specialized program, doing what you love, naturally elicits a strong desire to thoroughly complete all reading assignments (and thus takes a lot more time) to get the most out of the program as you can.
3. Having a full-time graduate assistantship, while attending a full-time graduate program is very time consuming.
4. Living off campus and having to travel through Williamsburg does, believe it or not, take some precious time out of your day. It must be the 25mph speed limits that dominate this small town.
5. Self-care is mandatory!!!
6. Undergraduate education really isn’t enough… graduate education is more valuable than you think, not to mention education should be a life-long, on-going process.
If you think W&M is a top-notch, rigorous, and highly esteemed undergraduate university, you are correct! However, W&M really is that much more top-notch, rigorous, and prestigious in graduate studies!!! As a fellow graduate student at W&M, I highly regard the department I am in and strongly support those brave enough to charge this exhilarating and stomach-wrenching path of personal and professional development. Don’t be afraid, but get ready for the ride of your life. I used to refer to W&M undergrad as a very fast moving train, but I have begun to conceptualize W&M graduate school as a runaway train that will pass you by and take you with it whether you are ready for it or not. The great thing about this is that the faculty will make sure you get to the finish line. I have never known faculty to be as helpful, caring, and empathic as the faculty in my graduate program. There are a lot of resources available and many people supporting you along the way, such that even when something seems impossible, you really can accomplish anything when you commit to the process.