5 differences between college and grad school

By the time we reach grad school we have been studying for a solid 16 years or more, so what’re a few more years? It might surprise some to know that they won’t be as prepared for grad school as they think they are. There are some notable differences between college and grad school. Being prepared for these will help a student to cope with the changes.

Course time

Going to grad school means that classes are cut in half but the time for studying is just about doubled. College students generally take five to six classes per semester. A full grad school program is around three courses. These courses are not taken in the form of large lecture classes, but rather small interactive seminars of around 20 or fewer students. Fewer classes doesn’t mean more free time though. There is a ridiculous amount of reading and research that must be done in grad school. The aim of grad school is to study the subjects broadly and in-depth. At the end of the courses, a student needs to be an expert in their chosen field.

5 differences between college and grad school

Becoming independent

In college, there is always someone to assist. Someone a student can ask for help. Someone to guide them. This changes in grad school. Students need to be really independent and disciplined. The deadlines are set and it’s completely up to the student to make sure they are met. Prioritizing and time management are crucial skills to have in grad school.

An “A” isn’t really an “A” anymore

Exceptional grades are expected from every student in grad school. In college there are hundreds of students taking the same classes, this means that an A-grade student still stands out above the rest. Not so much in grad school. Every student is striving to be the best that they can be. Simply put, a “C” in grad school is like an “F” at college.

No blending in

In such small classes, there’s just no place for a student to blend in and not be noticed. Professors expect every student to take part in the interactive seminars, with no exceptions. Think of the classes as more like group discussions. Everyone is interested to hear everyone’s opinions. This allows the students to have a good rapport with the faculty members, which is essential when they are called to give a reference to a potential job opportunity.


College life is full of socializing, parties, and campus activities, oh, and studying. This changes dramatically in grad school. In essence, social life becomes more mature. Most graduate students live off-campus and primarily spend their time within the graduate hub of students and faculty members.

5 differences between college and grad school


College lectures are constantly riddled with students who miss classes or simply just drop out. This is majorly different in graduate school. Every student who is there wants to be there. There is a whole change in mindset because grad school is more like a job than attending college. The subjects are so specialized and they are exactly what the students want to be learning. This makes for a very pleasant learning experience.

So there we have it. Graduate school is totally different from college in almost every way. One thing is for sure though, it is a more satisfying experience overall.