Graduate Experience From Undergraduate Experience

Jalyss Agosto headshot
Jalyss Agosto

Graduate school is a unique and challenging academic experience that is completely different from the undergraduate experience. While both share the common goal of advancing education, the mentality and expectations of graduate school sets it apart in several ways. One of the main differences is the depth of study. In undergraduate programs, students typically follow a broad curriculum, covering various subjects to obtain a well-rounded education. However, graduate programs focus on a specific field and hands-on experience. This allows students to dive deep into their chosen area of study, gaining expertise and a better understanding of the subject matter that they will experience in the real world. 

The structure of graduate programs is also different. Instead of a fixed set of courses, graduate students often have more flexibility in tailoring their curriculum to align with their research interests and career goals. Graduate students are expected to take more initiative in their learning, engaging in critical analysis, independent research and often collaborating within different networks. Hands-on experience plays a central role in graduate education. While undergraduates may engage in research projects, the depth and difficulty of graduate work is more intense. Graduate students are expected to contribute original ideas to their field, carry out the work and present their findings to employers. The pursuit of a master’s degree involves a significant commitment to perseverance, creativity and often long hours in the library. 

Additionally, the relationship between faculty and students is more collaborative in graduate school. Professors often serve as mentors, providing guidance to students in their academic pursuits. This close interaction fosters a sense of community and intellectual exchange, with students actively participating both inside and outside the classroom. The assessment methods in graduate school also differ. While undergraduates are commonly evaluated through exams and coursework, graduate students are primarily assessed based on the projects they present. 

Overall, graduate school demands a higher level of commitment, critical thinking and self-directed learning compared to the more structured nature of undergraduate education. The atmosphere of graduate school is more focused and career oriented. Many graduate students pursue advanced degrees to enhance their professional prospects, and graduate programs often incorporate opportunities for networking, internships, and collaboration with industry partners. 

Jalyss Agosto is a graduate student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.