Today’s blog post was scheduled to be about a simple, yet cute outfit I wore this past weekend to The Boy’s cousin’s birthday party. The thing is, I didn’t even make it out of the house. I was mentally/physically exhausted and while I wanted to celebrate her milestone, I couldn’t pull myself together to put on real clothes (i.e., a bra), comb my hair, put on make up, brave the cold, and be in a club. So as I sat at the computer trying to think up fake words to accompany my pre-shot photos, it dawned on me that I was doing both my readers and myself a disservice. Instead of trying to make you guys think I was looking fabulous and twerking in the club this weekend, I thought I’d address the reason why I had to skip out on the partying. In two simple words, the reason is graduate school. If you have a full-time working graduate student in your life there are  some grad school struggles you simply must understand and learn to accept.

1. We don’t have free time. This is by far the biggest one for me and I have a really hard time getting friends/family to get it. I spend 50+ hours between my multiple jobs and that doesn’t even include the time I have to prepare for class, actually suffer through class, do homework, or blogging. On nights I don’t have class, I come home at 6pm basically ready to go straight to bed, but typically still need to do something for work and/or school. By the time my day is truly done, it’s time time to go to bed just to do it all again the next day. Then the weekend comes, thank every higher power there is, and I’m trying to take care of things around the house (i.e. grocery shopping, errands, laundry, etc.), get a head start on the upcoming week, and actually make an attempt to watch MAYBE 2 hours of the 10 hours worth of shows that have accumulated during the week.

grad school struggles
via ThatsSoGrad

2. We are going to miss events. Please re-read the paragraph about us not having free time. Realize this paragraph didn’t even mention obligatory family stuff, working out, “me time”, or a significant other. My point is that time is actually much more scarce than that paragraph describes and we simply just can’t make it to everything. I have such a hard time telling people no and in my heart I never want to pass up on an opportunity to see a friend, but that couple of hours I spend with them is hours away from my books/computer and that time will have to be made up at some point (probably meaning less sleep, see below for that). Trust me, I’d much rather be on the dance floor, snuggling with my grandma, on a date with the Boy, having drinks with the girls, or watching movies with my mom; hell, I’d rather be watching paint dry than doing anything related to school, but I’ve got these silly career aspirations telling me this is what I have to do.

grad school struggles
via Grad School Problems

3. We can’t achieve work-life balance. Does anyone have work-life balance? I strongly detest whoever came up with this unrealistic concept of work-life balance.  Ideally, work and life should carry equal importance and one will ever be burdened with so much work that their personal life suffer. News flash, this is NEVER the case….unless you’re like 1 in 10 people that actually loves their job. Personally, I spend all this time working to pay bills and sneak shopping/trips in as often as possible. There is no fairy God mother saying “welp you’ve worked a ton this month and haven’t spent time with the people you love, so take this next week off from work to focus on life”. Our lives are basically work, work, work, life while working, work…you get the point.

A photo posted by Darlene Marie (@darmarie91) on

4. We are broke. You know how everyone talks about how expensive undergrad is? Well grad school is up there too! I pay $1440.00/credit. For ONE credit, ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED FORTY DOLLARS! My entire degree is 45 credits, you do the math. Unfortunately, unlike undergrad, scholarships and free money aren’t as bountiful. Financial aid typically comes in the form of loans (yay interest) and then you still have to buy insanely overpriced books that you’ll probably never use. If you’re a working adult like me, you’re trying to pay for grad school AND have a ton of regular bills eating through your pockets too. So no, we can’t go on that trip with you for your birthday and sorry we definitely can’t go buy multiple $12 drinks on a Friday night just because it’s the weekend (again, what is a weekend?), but you are more than welcome to come over for grilled cheese and $5 bottles of wine.

5. We hate graduate school. I could probably start a new blog all about my hatred for graduate school. My grievances with the entire idea start at the fact that many are saying a Master’s degree is becoming equivalent to an undergraduate degree. In other words, you have to have a Master’s degree. Additionally, in the mid to late twenties, the time when a large majority of people are pursuing Master’s degrees, there are so many other things we want to do before we are restricted by families. Grad school basically gets in the way and ruins any idea of fun we thought we’d be having during this time. I’ve seriously never heard someone say they love grad school, it’s just a necessary evil.

grad school struggles
via Some Cards

6. Sleep is our best friend. Almost every morning when I wake up, I think about how I can’t wait to go back to sleep that night. I mean seriously, before my feet have even hit the floor I’m fantasizing about when my head will feel my pillow again. During the day, my mind always wanders off to how nice it would be to take a nap. My ideal weekend actually includes never leaving my bed. So if you are calling me after 10:30pm it better be life or death because this is the one time my brain is actually off and not obsessing about the overwhelming amount of stuff I have to do.

http://disneygetsgradschool.tumblr.com/post/136115385590/when-your-sleep-gets-interrupted

I’m not trying to complain or rally a pity party from those of you reading this, but I really think it’s hard to understand someone else’s situation when you aren’t in it. Going to grad school is hard on its own, but when you add a full time job and family, things quickly get messy. I know I personally live life right on the cusp of having everything together and running away to find Neverland. So the next time you’re in your feelings because the full-time working grad student in your life hasn’t called, texted, or invited you to hang out, realize they’ve got what I like to call “real life sh*t” going on and blame it on their mind, not their heart because the grad school struggles are real.

http://gradschool101.tumblr.com/post/135829606621

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34 comments on “6 Struggles of Grad School Students You Need to Understand (and Accept)”

  1. Graduate School is so stressful. I am thankful that we were able to support our daughter while she finished. I can’t imagine trying to have a “life” and finish school. And don’t get me started on the costs..oh my!

    • She is so fortunate to have had your support Sherryl! Glad to hear she conquered the beast and I hope she’s enjoying her degree. It is honestly a shame how high the price tag on education is. Thanks for stopping by!

      xoxo,
      Roxy

  2. This post just makes me happy that I decided against grad school! I’m already upset about the money I ended up wasting on my undergrad. I couldn’t imagine three times the guilt and anger of paying back grad school loans too! More power to you and good luck!

    • My sole motivation is that I’m almost done. I keep telling myself to not worry about the loans b/c the degrees will eventually pay for themselves, I’m just hoping I’m still alive to see that happen. lol. Hopefully in 10 years, I’ll be a few years out of residency and able to appreciate the torture that was getting my Master’s.

      xoxo,
      Roxy

  3. I can only imagine! I went to college, got a diploma and now I’m looking at advancing to a bachelor’s degree, then a masters. It sounds terrifying! College was a breeze, easier than high school!

    • I won’t lie it’s hard, but thankfully the time has passed swiftly and I’m almost done, which I’m sure will be the case when you go back. When you do, make sure you check out my tips for thriving and surviving grad school!

      xoxo,
      Roxy

    • The struggle is too real! Keep on letting them complain to you and always remind them to focus on the end goal. As much as we end up neglecting our friends and family, we probably couldn’t survive grad school without them!

      xoxo,
      Roxy

  4. You just brought me back to a few years ago when I was finishing up. You really learn who your friends are when you’re so busy with school/work/life. Any plans to celebrate when you take your final exam? 🙂

  5. I’m currently and undergrad (graduating in May) and then I should be entering grad school… While my graduate program is a bit cheaper than yours, I can definitely relate to these happening to me!

    • I seriously will never understand why education is so expensive. We spend all this money getting these degrees, just to MAYBE get a job that allows us to pay the loans back AND live comfortably. It’s such a silly cycle. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation, be sure to enjoy this last semester of undergrad!!

      xoxo,
      Roxy

  6. I’m probably in the minority here when I say this, but if I had to do it all over again, I’d chose to redo grad school over undergrad any day! For me, grad school was way less stressful! Regardless, both require dedication and hard work which will pay off in the end!

    • Oh no, my intention certainly wasn’t to scare you! Don’t be nervous, just be prepared to eat, breathe, and sleep grad school for the next few years. It will all be over before you know it! What degree/field will you be pursuing?

      xoxo,
      Roxy

    • How are you liking that Danielle? I’d very seriously considered doing one myself (instead of my MPH), but worried I’d change my mind along the way and decided to get my MPH in case I abandoned my med school plans. Will you be done soon??

      xoxo,
      Roxy

  7. Grad school can be very overwhelming. I’ve started and stopped several programs, but I’m finally in a program that I actually enjoy. However, I know it’s going to be more work than before.

    • Well the good news is that you already know what you’re getting into and hopefully because you are enjoying it, it won’t be as painful. If you find yourself overwhelmed, just come re-read this and know that all your fellow grad students are suffering with you!

      xoxo,
      Roxy

  8. My husband is in his 4th year of grad school working toward his PhD and this is so true! I understand these things but that doesn’t make it any easier for us. And I wish other people would understand! Also, I am exhausted (though not as exhausted as him) just from trying to support him and sometimes I don’t feel like going out or going to that event without him. I want people to understand that too.

    • Charlene, thank you so much for this comment because my better half can certainly relate to you. All too often he has to deal with me cranky and usually has to carry extra burdens like taking care of the dogs and cooking dinner. I try to be sure he feels appreciated because I know I couldn’t possibly get by without him doing all that he does. I bet your husband would much rather be showing you off at those events than stuck with his nose in a book.

      xoxo,
      Roxy

  9. Hey, sometimes you deserve to complain and have a pity party! It can relieve stress to get it out because when nobody understands, you have to spend your precious time explaining and that just leads to more stress.

    About work-life balance? A professional blogger, can’t remember his name, said in an interview that he hates the concept of work-life balance because balance suggests (and it’s usually the case) that one single thing goes wrong and it turns the so-called ‘balance’ on it’s head. Then everything’s out of wack! I think he’s right. I think it’s just better to focus on what you need to do right now. Someday you won’t be in grad school and I hope you get lots of sleep before then!

    • That blogger is totally right. I’m definitely trying to learn how to focus on the things I need while maintaining deadlines. Someday will be soon and I can’t wait to sleep..that is until I start down the road to medical school. Thanks for letting me have a little pity party!

      xoxo,
      Roxy

    • I will admit that grad school is harder as far as the time commitment goes than what I anticipated. So I assume to those that have never done it and don’t plan to, it seems absurd that it monopolizes our lives the way it does.

      xoxo,
      Roxy

  10. I am so glad to read this article. My best friend, or so I thought, just unloaded on me for being a horrible friend. She is pissed because I haven’t had time to hang out with ‘just her’ in a month and a half. She doesn’t want to just ‘tag along’ with me and my other two girlfriends and my significant other who has put up with me all this time. The problem is, I have had zero free time lately, and when I do get a little bit I want to see ALL my friends, not just HER. Literally, it was twice. That is all the time I have had. She seems to think that she is the only important person in my life and should take top priority over everything else. In the past I have dropped everything to help her when she was going through a divorce, and then again when she was dealing with an alcoholic, destructive mother. Now she can’t even cut me some slack when something is going on in MY life. Of all the people in my life she is the ONLY person who has not been 100% supportive of what is going on right now. She is also the only one of my friends not in grad school. She is actively making my stress and anxiety go through the roof! Did I mention that the reason I don’t have time to hang out with just her right now is because I’m writing my thesis and getting ready to defend? Ugh….people. She could not have picked a more horrible time to have a tantrum. I’m glad to know that others have successfully dealt with similar situations. I just needed to vent to a crowd that might understand my frustration.

    PS. how do you like the MPH program? I almost went that route and decided to do a Masters in microbiology instead, but sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision.

  11. I have noticed that online education is getting popular because obtaining your college degree online has turned into a popular option for many people. Numerous people have not really had a chance to attend a traditional college or university nonetheless seek the raised earning potential and a better job that a Bachelors Degree gives. Still people might have a college degree in one course but would like to pursue something they now possess an interest in.

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