How Starting Grad School Can Make or Break you



With my first semester of graduate school in the books, I’m just going to put this out there…It was just as bad as I imagined and maybe more.  My first semester this past fall contained a significantly less amount of work to be completed.  In undergrad I had an array of different types of assignments and projects that always provided a different challenge, especially my upper level Exercise Science classes.  I’ll give you a piece about them all and some of the emotions dealt with from the rigor.  Your 1st semester of grad school difference may be different (I hope it is/was).

Here in graduate school, I experienced none of the aforementioned projects and such.  I was bombarded with lectures that felt twice their length in the middle of the afternoon (my weakest part of the day).  And then there were the research articles…My exercise physiology course was centered on research articles about muscle plasticity and metabolism.  I learned a lot but I had a very, very difficult transition to reading research articles all the time.  Even my textbooks from undergrad had a bit of personality in them.  There was absolutely no personality in these research articles.  Each of them required about four hours of concentration to read, a piece, just to get through let alone studying them and writing down important parts.  These atrocities things didn’t happen in undergrad.  Although my undergrad professors were sharks about us having proper scientific backing, having homework and classwork replaced with Holloszy’s 25 page mitochondrial biogenesis paper and my professors research took some getting used to (they actually contain phenomenal research by the way and they got Holloszy to sign it).

That class was a large part of my problems, the “underboss” of the graduate school mafia.  My other two classes were just arguably just “soldiers”.  I was reading a rather decent bit about Italian mafia families earlier this day so some of the terms were fresh on my mind.  I had a neuromuscular class which posed as easy and simple as we moved at a rather slow pace and got off topic a lot (it was three hours once a week), but when the exams came, some of the questions were further in depth than expected and many of us were quite surprised with midterm scores.  My third class was actually very easy as it was a lab techniques class in which my undergrad curriculum was heavy with hands on things.

My self-imposed problem was I didn’t dedicate the time I properly needed to read, and reread those articles.  I was playing club Ultimate (Frisbee) for the University but I then in October made the decision to give up ultimate Frisbee after getting back midterm grades in October.  Also working to hold down a job at Pizza Hut on top of my teaching assistantship wasn’t the best idea either.  I cleaned my act up as far as priorities and responsibilities and had a much better understanding in the latter of the semester.  In undergrad I was able to juggle multiple jobs, lead various clubs on campus, and have a social life.  Grad school laughed at my arrogance.  Many things were given up reducing my schedule to a mere class, TA, SAAB, and study.  I didn’t play Ultimate again until December.  My schedule had never been so reduced I was very sad.  Grad school made me question if I even wanted to work in athletics let alone even coach haha.

But I finished up and survived!!  I met with my professors and cleared up some misunderstandings of material and walked away with a firm grip of the muscle physiology we learned and a newfound confidence in what I wanted to do with myself training athletes feeling more motivated and confident! These downhill falls are needed at times to build you back better.  The harder the path the better the feeling of redemption in gaining success.  I went to Mexico feeling much more serious about things knowing I could make it through.  Have dealt with a life situation that is dragging you like this?  Share with us how you felt after bouncing back!