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Grad school vs. undergrad

Hello! Can anyone comment on the differences between undergrad and grad school? I am interested in astronomy/physics and was wondering how the classes differ, how teachers teach, etc. Any advice is appreciated. #graduate-school #physics #undergraduate #astronomy #grad

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JD’s Answer


I personally found Grad school easier and more rewarding. Here's the difference. As an under-grad your horizons have not been expanded and you lack a developed ability to use and understand abstract thought. This in no way means you are dumb or something bad like that. It means you are un-focused. For many folks it is the first time they have been away from home..... and they loss their minds.

Under-grads tend to have ineffective study habits and perhaps some other bad habits.................... In grad school, there are generally no scholarships and the like, so you yourself are paying for the education. Most people have to work full-time jobs and may have already started a family. It is tough, but it can be done if you are organized.

The biggest difference I noted was that you are treated as an adult, not a kid just out of high school. There are no academic secrets and the professors tended to be a cut above the rest.... at least when they were instructing grad students.

Lastly, I will share that you should not stop or take a break or any of that..... it is real hard to start up again. Think about those things in motion tending to stay in motion and contrast that with how much energy it takes to get a sedentary object into motion versus sustaining the motion.

Good luck

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Keith’s Answer

If you are comparing Masters programs to undergraduate degrees, I don't think there is that much difference. Most Masters programs are predominantly classwork, like your undergraduate degree, an possible a smaller research project. The main difference is the classes are increasingly specialized.

The PhD, however, is a different animal. A PhD should be focused on research, not taking classes. Although you will take some classes as part of a PhD program, the emphasis is on doing research. This can take a little getting used to, after spending so much of your education taking classes, but if you love research, can be very fulfilling. Depending on the research group, you will also work much more closely with your advisor.

Finally, here is a short description I once heard about how your degrees change you. "When you get your Bachelors degree, you think you know everything. When you get your Masters, you realize you don't know everything. When you get a PhD, you realize nobody knows anything."