Category Archives: Grad School Confidential

For your eyes only! Check out these posts by current and former grad students as they tell you all about their experiences pursuing higher education. These grad students can’t wait to share what their wisdom and advice with you. Are you a grad student and want to appear here? Email Eva Grouling Snider at and ask for more information!

New professor Elisabeth Buck on making the most of PhD studies

Elisabeth Buck received her PhD in Rhetoric and Writing from BSU in 2016. During her time here, Elisabeth worked as a graduate teaching assistant and as the Graduate Assistant Director of the Writing Program and Writing Center. She is now Assistant Professor of English and Faculty Director of the Writing & Reading Center at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. 

In this installment of Grad School Confidential, Elisabeth talks about how her experiences at Ball State readied her for the academic job market.

One of the best aspects of my job is the opportunity to mentor and advise students. Just the other day, one of my students asked me, “So… how do I go about getting a job like yours?”

Receiving a tenure-track job offer is like finding a unicorn, or catching a foul ball, or *insert other appropriate metaphor about luck/scarcity here.* There are so many super-smart, hard-working, enthusiastic people who, for a variety of reasons, may spend years applying for and never receiving such a job offer. The reality is that working full-time in academia is an increasingly tenuous pursuit, and I remind myself constantly how lucky I am to be here. If you decide then to attend graduate school, I believe strongly that you should be open to many post-grad paths: a graduate degree in English can be versatile and marketable. That said, the specific opportunities and training offered to me at Ball State absolutely prepared me to take on my role at U Mass Dartmouth, for three primary reasons:

Fantastic Faculty Mentors

If you have—or are considering—moving to attend grad school, the community you’re able to build is critically important. Graduate school can be tough on mental health. Seriously tough. It’s important that anyone considering this path do their research about this topic, and know what resources exist on campus. Even if you’re commuting locally, I cannot emphasize enough that to be successful in graduate school, you must have support.

On this note, I met Dr. Jennifer Grouling on my first day at Ball State. During my time there, she epitomized supportive—from her first role as my teaching mentor, through her supervision as my dissertation/exam chair, and, more recently, as my co-teacher and co-author. Dr. Jackie Grutsch McKinney too is one of the most well-known and well- respected scholars in writing center studies. (She’s a three-time winner of the International Writing Center Association’s Outstanding Book Award!) Both Jennifer and Jackie are incredibly encouraging mentors, and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from them. Dr. Rory Lee and Dr. Mike Donnelly also helped me engage critically and meaningfully throughout my exam and dissertation process. Even English faculty outside of my area stepped in to help prepare me for the job market—from offering workshops on personal statements and CV design, to attending mock job talks and research presentations.

Teaching/Administrative Opportunities

One thing that I believe made me successful in my job search is the variety of teaching and administrative positions I was able to hold at Ball State. I served as  the Graduate Assistant Director of both the Writing Program and the Writing Center. In these roles, I explored strategies for programmatic evaluation, supervision, publicity, and assessment—all key to developing a comprehensive administrative philosophy.

Ball State also afforded me the opportunity to teach a variety of classes, including first-year English courses, a Digital Literacies class, and, as co-teacher with Dr. Grouling, a graduate level course, Teaching in English Studies. These pedagogical experiences supplemented my administrative roles, especially with regard to the opportunity to work closely with and mentor fellow graduate students.

Rigorous Research Preparation

When I was a student in Dr. Grouling’s Teaching in English Studies class, I began a research project that eventually became my first peer-reviewed publication. Have I mentioned that Jennifer is supportive? Well, she was there during every stage of this process.

I think that most current academics will tell you that it is always advantageous to emerge from grad school with at least one refereed publication, if a job in academe is the end goal. Navigating the publishing process can be hugely scary, but my coursework at Ball State—especially the Writing in the Professions course—helped me take important steps that would make my work legible within disciplinary contexts.

It was also this advanced preparation that helped me navigate how to pitch and revise my dissertation into a book, Open-Access, Multimodality, and Writing Center Studies.

In short, I am enormously thankful for my time at Ball State. The combination of highly engaged faculty, unique teaching and administrative opportunities, and an encouraging and thorough research program undoubtedly helped me make it to this point.

Editor’s Note: Elisabeth indicates that she would be happy to hear from students considering graduate school at Ball State. You can reach her at

M.A. student Rachel Lauve on studying Creative Writing

Rachel Lauve is a new graduate student working toward an M.A. in creative writing from Ball State University. She earned an undergraduate degree in English Education from Ball State in May 2017

1) What degree are you pursuing (i.e., PhD in Literature, MA in creative writing, etc.)? What is it about this degree/program that interested you?

I’m currently pursuing my MA in creative writing. This particular program interested me because I felt like my time in Ball State’s creative writing department had only just begun in my undergrad, and I wanted to keep studying with this particular faculty; additionally, the fact that this program doesn’t require a genre concentration was appealing, as when I was applying, I was still figuring out which genre I really preferred. There’s always something to be learned from other genres that can be applied to your primary genre, too (e.g., I’m already itching to apply what I’ve learned about meter in poetry to my creative nonfiction essays).

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M.A. student Justine Waluvengo: “Graduate school is fun!”

Justine Waluvengo is a new graduate student working toward an M.A. in literature from Ball State University. She studied linguistics and literature at the University of Nairobi, where she earned a B.A.

1) What degree are you pursuing? What is it about this degree/program that interested you?

I am pursuing an MA in Literature. I believe the English Department at Ball State, not just the literature area, is well established and capable of offering the challenge that I need to develop my career.

2) Where did you attend undergrad? What did you study?

 I am a graduate of The University of Nairobi, Kenya, with a BA in Education. My subject areas were Linguistics and Literature. I majored in Literature. Continue reading

BSU Grad School Opportunities

Hayat Bedaiwi received her BA and MA in English Literature from King Saud University in 2007 and 2012, respectively. She is currently a third year PhD #bsuenglish student who aspires to specialize in Ethnic American Literature with a major focus on Arab American Literature. Here’s more info about our graduate programs. 

When I first started my graduate studies at Ball State University, I took great courses that helped me become the scholar I am today. There are two experiences that come to my mind when I think of the courses that I have taken so far in graduate school. I turned papers I had written for two courses into conference papers. One paper was for a 657-postcolonial studies class, where I was blessed with the help and support of a great professor, Dr. Molly Ferguson. In that course, we read different postcolonial texts in the light of trauma theory. I was anxious when the course first started, but as we read and had different discussions every week, I knew what I wanted to write about for the seminar paper in that class. I wrote about Women at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi concerning the ideas of silence and bearing witness to the many traumas that filled the main character’s life.

Coincidentally, Practical Criticism Midwest was announced to take place in February that year, and I decided to submit my seminar paper for this course. I polished it to become a conference paper by revising it with Dr. Ferguson and making some visits to the Writing Center. My paper was one of the first papers to get accepted, and I had the opportunity of presenting this paper and getting feedback from different academic voices attending the conference.

I’m also presenting another paper at PCM 2017 this year which is a seminar paper for an Ethnic American Literature class entitled “Understanding the ‘Other’ in Naomi Shihab Nye’s You & Yours.” This course has helped me become more confident in my own academic voice. Dr. Emily Rutter’s approach to teaching this class was a very fascinating one. We were introduced to theories, texts and cultural material that helped us understand the texts we were reading for the class. As a class, we couldn’t stop talking about all the texts that we were reading, and all the new things we discovered everyday led us to write some interesting strong papers, which we shared together at the end of the semester. I was very hesitant to write about poetry, but Dr. Rutter helped me improve my writing about poetry and become a more confident scholar in Ethnic Studies.

My other paper was the fruitful product of my ENG 693 “Writing in the Profession” course, where I learned different ways of maintaining and creating my professional identity by revising my CV and exploring different ways of writing cover letters. Dr. Deborah Mix offered many great opportunities and great venues for us to learn the different ways of writing in our profession. We learned how to look for conferences and participate in them, how to find the journal that is of interest, how to become successful in submitting and publishing an article in that journal, and how to apply for a grant, from writing the budget narrative to crafting a proposal in a very professional way that would make us succeed in the application process.

I am the recipient of the 2016 Francis Mayhew Rippy Scholarship. I used the knowledge I learned in class about grant writing and took the opportunity to apply to this grant that was offered by the English Department. I also applied to attend a conference in New York as part of a panel with another colleague, and we both got accepted. Dr. Mix supported us and pushed us to do our best in order to become successful in all our assignments in that course, and we would have never gotten anywhere without her guidance and belief in our success.

My experience in graduate school has been a rewarding one, and as I am currently preparing for my comprehensive exams, I am very confident in my abilities, as my writing and thinking have evolved immensely over the past two and a half years because of the full support and unlimited guidance I get from the phenomenal faculty members at the English department, my colleagues, and my family.

Advice for Grad Students, from a Grad Student

Rachel Tindall received her Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Literature from the University of Southern Indiana in 2015. Now, she is working towards achieving her Master’s of Arts in English here at Ball State and plans to graduate in May of 2017. 

preview-chat-20160822_132743I’ve always been one of those people who knows what they want to do. I came straight from my undergraduate degree into my Master’s program at Ball State as part of my plan to become a university professor of American Literature. My degree, when I graduate this May, will be a Master’s of Arts in English, with which I hope to become an academic advisor or career coach at a university in Indianapolis or the surrounding area. Not the same as the aforementioned “plan,” right? Well, as I’ve come to realize, sometimes things change.

From the time I arrived at Ball State, the faculty and staff in the English program have been so helpful in helping me achieve my goals. I am a Teaching Assistant (TA) in the Writing Program, which means that once I completed my first semester of classes and observed my mentor’s English 104 class, I was assigned to teach my own. This semester is the fifth English 104 class I’ve taught while at Ball State, and I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of it.

During my time teaching, I’ve learned that my favorite part of being an instructor is actually meeting with students one-on-one during conferences, hence my desire to go into advising or career coaching. Having developed multiple teaching philosophies for pedagogy classes, I have found my core values as an educator. But two years ago, I had never taught a class, and to be honest, couldn’t even really picture myself in front of a classroom. Sure, it was a passing thought for some time in the distant future, but it wasn’t concrete. Thankfully, my professors and mentors saw my potential and worked with me every step of the way to help me become a confident graduate student and instructor.

I’ve also grown in two other important ways through grad school. First, as a student. Second, as a person. In order to really understand this growth, it’s important to know a few things about me:

  1. I live, and have lived for the duration of my degree, an hour away from campus.
  2. I was engaged when I arrived at Ball State, and now I’m married.
  3. I didn’t know anyone at Ball State when I arrived straight from my undergraduate institution.

My experiences at Ball State have shaped the way I act as a student, and how I handle life as an adult. The intensity and learning curve as a grad student have affected me profoundly. As a student, I am much more resourceful and confident than I was as an undergrad. This is partially because of skills that I have learned, but also because of the encouragement I receive on an almost daily basis from my support network. I feel confident that I can achieve my goals, and because of that I do better work. As a person, I am much more aware of my own impact on the people around me. I know that I need to spend time with my friends, my family, my dog, and most of all my (new) husband. All of those people support me daily, and they need me to pull back from school sometimes and just be a person. Probably the biggest (and hardest) thing I’ve learned is how to manage my time. I drive to Ball State an hour each way every day, so every minute I’m home or at school needs to matter for something – whether that’s personal “break” time or school work time.

My story is one of many at Ball State. For the most part, I’m just like any other graduate student struggling through, trying to figure out this whole “life” thing. However, I think there are a few things I can share that could be useful to new graduate students.

  1. Graduate school is HARD. You will be tested in ways you didn’t know you could be tested. You graduated in the top 10% of your undergraduate class? So did everyone else! You love researching and writing papers but tend to procrastinate? Try doing that with a 20-page seminar paper that’s worth 50-60% of your grade – on second thought, that’s a terrible plan.
  2. You will fail at something, and that’s okay. So you didn’t go to every single social event, finish every assignment exactly on time, or build the most fun assignment for your classes. You may have even have lost a library book that you later found stuffed under the seat of your car because you were carrying too many books at one time and it slid underneath the seat. It’s okay, you’re just human! Everyone else around you has also done these things (at least once) and survived.
  3. The people around you, your cohort, your professors, your mentors, your office-mate(s), understand your pain. They get it. Use that to your advantage. Talk through issues about your classes. Ask professors how the heck they made it through their education. These people want to help you – let them!
  4. Take advantage of opportunities. Every semester you will produce some sort of project, whether creative or research based. When your professors suggest conferences or publications to submit to (and then offer to help you get there), go for it! Getting accepted to a conference and then sitting in front of a room full of people who want to hear about your research is awesome (and validating)! Collaborate with your colleagues, go to events, network with people. Not only does that change your perspective about your research interests, but it also might help you get a job.
  5. Plans change. So you had a “set” plan and now you’re questioning whether it’s what you want? You’ve wanted to be a professor for years, but now you like the job description of something else better? Like failing at some things, changing plans happens to most people. Some people “stay the course,” but if that’s not you, that’s okay. Part of grad school is figuring out what you want, and no one will blame you or judge you (hopefully) for making the best decisions for you.
  6. You CAN do it, AND it IS worth it. When you’ve cried 3 times in the past week because you have so much to do and you don’t think that one person can possibly do all of the tasks you know you have to accomplish, life can seem bleak. Finishing your education to get to your goals can seem impossible, and sometimes you will probably feel like you’d rather binge watch Netflix with your dog and a tub of ice cream than read one more article. But, when you finish eating all the ice cream and run out of your favorite show (this definitely happens) you will find the strength to read that last article and write that 500-word discussion board. You will write that 20-page paper and do well, even if you have to ask for help a hundred different times from ten different people.

You may be wondering why (or if) you should trust me. After all, what can a twenty-something year old know about the big world of academia and grad school? I guess my short answer would be: don’t just read about it and silently chuckle at my experiences – come experience all of these things for yourself. Live them, suffer them, grow from them. Have your own crazy experiences. But, if you have the opportunity to go to grad school, if that’s how you get to the job you want, or if you’re still unsure but you love to learn: go for it. Take the leap of faith – it won’t let you down.

Balancing Work and Life as a Grad Student

Morgan Gross is a current #bsuenglish graduate student pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition. Below, you can view a video starring Morgan and detailing “A Day in the Life of a Grad Student.”

Originally from Texas, Morgan has taken the opportunity in her new home to make many long lasting friendships, including current grad student Kelsie Walker and #bsuenglish alum Elisabeth Buck. She provides advice for students considering graduate study below.

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Jeremy M. Carnes

Jeremy M. Carnes is a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Ball State. He will be starting his dissertation in the fall, where he plans to research early 20th Century American imperialism in print culture artifacts, including modernist little magazines and periodicals as well as early comic strips and comic books.

Jeremy Carnes (GSC)

I remember the precise moment that I decided I wanted to go to graduate school. I was a junior at Ball State. I had decided that I wanted to learn more about American Modernism, so I had periodic meetings with Dr. Deborah Mix where we discussed some novels and poems one-on-one. During one meeting, we were discussing Willa Cather’s novel, A Lost Lady, and some of the defining features of American Modernism and modernity when I realized that I could have talked with Dr. Mix about this era of American history and literature for hours (in fact, over the years, we did talk about this stuff over many hours). As I finished my undergraduate degree at Ball State, I saw the time and care offered to me by Dr. Mix and, slightly later, Dr. Patrick Collier. These two professors especially showed me what it means to pour time and effort into students and research. The time Drs. Mix and Collier spent with me and my work over the years spurred me into graduate school all the more.

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Tiffany Sedberry Reiger

Tiffany graduated from Ball State with a degree in secondary education in 2008, from Purdue with a M.S.Ed. in 2013, and with a PhD from Purdue in 2016. She is currently focusing on writing and raising her newborn, Ezra.

For some people, college is the end of their academic career. For me, finishing my undergraduate degree at Ball State was the first of three degrees I would need to pursue my dream of becoming a professor of education. I enrolled in a master’s program in Literacy and Language Education at Purdue University in fall 2011 and in their doctoral program in fall 2013. I just graduated with my PhD this month, May 2016. While I have since decided not to pursue a job as a professor (mainly due to personal conflicts with my husband’s job and now having a newborn at home), I believe my time as a graduate student taught me very valuable things regarding higher education. A few things for people who are considering it:Sedberyy-Reiger

  • Graduate school will (and I believe should) consume you. Give it your all! Throw yourself in and experience all you can. But experience things that you enjoy or you will be miserable. I taught undergrad courses, researched for professors and collected data, supervised student teachers, made connections with local administrators and teachers, and presented at national conferences. Luckily for me, the majority of my experiences were rewarding.
  • Read and write all that you can. You have ample time to just focus! It’s a great gift. Read and write what you need to, sure. But also, read and write what you enjoy. A lot of people talk about how draining and terrible the dissertation process is. I loved it! I was passionate about my dissertation and loved reading and writing for it.
  • It is not an exaggeration to say that a mentor can make or break you. If any networking was important to success in graduate school, it was relationships cultivated with faculty. If the advisor assigned to you isn’t a good fit, branch out! Meet other professors and work with them or cultivate a mentor/mentee relationship over coffee. You need people in your corner who understand what you’re going through and understand the system.
  • The hardest thing about recommending graduate school is that most programs are preparing you to go back into academia as a professor. If you want to do that, great! But understand that some disciplines have a failing job market and there just are not enough jobs out there. If your program isn’t prepared or doesn’t prioritize preparing you for a job outside the academy, be proactive about it. During my PhD program, when I knew I wasn’t going on the job market, I made sure to acquire job experience that would translate elsewhere. I pursued jobs outside of my discipline and now have skills and experience that I would not have had otherwise. The opportunities exist!

Don’t go to graduate school just for the sake of going to graduate school. Be sure to have a specific goal in mind and a back up, just in case the first doesn’t work out. Also, I believe graduate school should be beneficial in several ways. I mentioned the academic and employment aspects earlier, but graduate school was also financially worthwhile for me. I didn’t pay for my master’s program or my doctoral program. I was paid to work for the university and received tuition remission. Several semesters I actually made what I was making teaching middle school.  Even though my goal changed, graduate school was a rewarding and profitable overall experience for me.

Consider carefully. Be passionate. Surround yourself with good people. Think long-term.

Matt Balk

Matt Balk is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at Ball State University. He graduated Ball State with an MA in Creative Writing in 2010.

My big piece of advice about grad school is this: be open to new opportunities. I’m currently a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition, but when I started my MA in Creative Writing at Ball State University, I had never even heard of Rhetoric and Composition before. At my small undergraduate college, creative writers and literature professors taught freshman composition, and I just assumed that was tMatt Balkhe way it was done everywhere. And at that time, I just knew that I was going to be a creative writer for the rest of my life.

However, for one of my electives, I took Dr. Donnelly’s ENG 690 class on the rhetoric of the public forum, and was immediately hooked on the history and theory of composition. Additionally, everyone in our class (all four of us) wrote papers and presented them at an academic conference in Illinois, which was my first experience with academic work outside of the classroom (and also a lot of fun!). After finishing my MA, I applied and was accepted to the PhD program in Rhetoric and Composition here at Ball State University, where I’m working on my dissertation on writing center histories.

Graduate school has also given me a love of teaching, which was something I never even knew I had. Before I came to Ball State, I had exactly zero teaching experience, and was petrified by the idea of being in charge of a class of students that I was barely older than. But after going through the teaching seminar with Dr. Linda Hanson, I felt far more comfortable than many of my peers at other universities, some of whom had only a workshop session’s worth of instruction the weekend before they started teaching composition classes.

One of the scariest things about starting grad school for me was the future after grad school; people were always asking, “What are you going to do with your degree?” And to be honest, I didn’t have much of an idea. I might be alone in this assumption, but I had no idea what to expect from graduate school. I came to Muncie in 2008 from Iowa, where I had lived my whole life, and felt a bit like a fish out of water (or in my case, the cornfield). At that time, I just really liked writing, and was grateful to be in a position that gave me time and opportunity not only to write, but also to get feedback from instructors and peers.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s okay if you don’t know what you are going to do right away. The professors at Ball State, especially in the English department, are great guides; don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. I’ve been fortunate to have many instructors at Ball State who have helped me find my path. Lean on your peers as well. Unlike the majority of undergraduate classmates, your graduate student colleagues are people who share your research and creative interests. The English department at Ball State does a great job of fostering an open, engaging environment for all students, and I have been fortunate to spend so many great years here.

Jeremy Flick

Jeremy Flick is native of Indianapolis, IN. He currently holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and is studying for his Master’s in Creative Writing at Ball State University. In his free time he writes poetry and prose, gets into shenanigans with his dog, Fenway, and occasionally performs music. He recently released an album titled “Journal Entries” under the name Your Silent Modern War. You can visit his website to learn more.

In my final spring semester at Ball State, before the air became toxic from the dogwood trees near the Atrium, I was over college. The sleepless nights and the mountains of reading were something I had been looking forward to leaving behind. My mighty keyboard had vanquished all of the research papers lurking in the shadows, and the hefty textbooks could find new homes. 

Jeremy Flick

I had finally made it. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English—not something I had anticipated when I was eighteen years old—and I was ready to take on the world. At that time I worked for Target and was hopeful to find another job with my shiny, new degree that would prove to employers I was worthy enough to work for them. However, throughout all of my searching, I found no such position—I beat myself up for not using the Career Center when it was available to me—and continued my work as a nonthreatening security guard at a Target in Indianapolis. The job was not stimulating and the hours were less than desirable, but I made enough to live on my own comfortably. 

At some point, catching “bad guys” became less exhilarating and dealing with management was more of a hassle, always demeaning and an insult to my intelligence. It was around that time I visited my friends at the ol’ alma matter and set up an appointment with Mark Neely to discuss graduate school opportunities. It seemed like it would be the only option to find my way into a better job that I actually enjoyed. I was mostly looking forward to the meeting to catch up with Mark and maybe get an idea of whether or not graduate school would be something to further explore. But by some wizardry Mark convinced me—some six months after I swore I was done with school forever—that graduate school was the next path on my journey. It was then that I started preparing to submit to the MA Creative Writing program at Ball State.

I only had a month or so to submit my information. I only had a week to prepare for the GRE. I needed to revise my creative submission. I was stressed. But the moment the acceptance came in the mail, all of the anxiety was worth it. I was going to grad school and getting out of the hellhole. There is no sweeter feeling than telling your boss that you’ll be leaving on x day in x amount of weeks to go to graduate school. What’s more is I was excited. I was so happy to be able to continue my education. I wanted to go back to school.

So why does all of that matter? What does my personal experience with a crummy job have to do with expectations of graduate school? First and foremost, I like to think that I’m not the exception to the rule. Most people graduate with their Bachelor’s Degree and don’t want to continue their education. Among those, there are people who aren’t going to find their ideal job. What’s important to note is: that’s okay. Going to graduate school should be something you want to do, not something you feel obligated to do. What’s also okay is changing your mind and deciding you do want to go to graduate school after swearing off of school forever.

When it came to expectations, I think nearly everyone anticipates a lot of work. And I hope they expect to do something they love, whether that be writing poetry or researching rhetorical theories or reading Dickens. Those were things I expected, but I also expected to hone my craft, to learn to love writing again, and find my new place in the hierarchy of higher education. I was awarded an assistantship—If I could give any advice, it would be to find a graduate program with funding (Ball State English has a pretty sweet set up *cough cough*)—this meant I would be teaching. What I didn’t expect was to make friends with such talented people that will last well beyond the two years it has taken to get my Master’s Degree. I didn’t expect to find love in reading books like The Price of Salt or Other Electricities or Life on Mars (among countless others)—books I never would have looked at if it weren’t for my classes. I didn’t expect to find my purpose in life—I’ve always wanted to work in the publishing industry, but after my time teaching, I’ve realized that teaching is my calling. Needless to say, grad school exceeded my expectations ten-fold.

Disclaimer: All encouragement for use of and application to Ball State programs is provided shamelessly and genuinely.

As with most things, graduate school is difficult at times and it’s hard to like it in those moments where you have a twenty-page paper due or you have to read a four-hundred-page novel in two days. It’s hard to like it when your students don’t understand a concept you’ve explained meticulously or one of them plagiarizes. But honestly, the good moments outweigh the bad. There were times I wished I didn’t take a certain class or could sleep for a week, but working through the difficult times gave me determination, pride, and, most of all, knowledge. And that’s the main reason graduate school is something to consider: knowledge. Not knowledge of all things—the kind of knowledge that helps you achieve the title of “the pretentious know-it-all in the room”—but knowledge of the important thing(s), the ones most important to you. Undergraduate courses are fascinating and you can learn many concepts and techniques, but taking the extra step to dedicate my education to the study of writing (specifically poetry), which I love, has helped me in more ways than I can count. Not only that, but the experience I have gained by teaching, tutoring, researching, and administrating is valuable no matter where I end up after graduation.

So no, graduate school isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. It takes knowing yourself enough to know when and if you are ready. It takes time. It takes determination. And sometimes it takes every last bit of shear will you can muster. And maybe you’re not sure about whether or not graduate school is for you. My suggestion would be to talk to a professor you trust. Talk to current graduate students. Get involved in your community and see if you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing. But no matter what, if you decide to go to graduate school it will be one of the best decisions you’ve made, for your career, and, most importantly, for yourself. Remember: there will always be hard times to trudge through, but you miss 100% of the chances you don’t take and, even if you struggle, the outcome can be far greater than you ever imagined.