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How Your Relationships Change In Grad School Versus Undergrad
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By Elana Goodwin on July 20, 2016

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There are lots of things that change when you start grad school, especially when compared to undergrad: your social life, the way you approach your academics, your classes, etc. Some of the biggest changes youíll see from undergrad to grad school is in your relationships. Your relationships with your friends, peers, romantic partners, and professors will all be affected by your going to grad school but itís not necessarily a bad thing.

Hereís some insight into how your many relationships will change once you begin grad school.

Relationships with Romantic Partners.

During undergrad, it may have been easier for you to plan a weekend trip to visit your romantic partner at their university since you were probably more willing and able to skip a class here and there. Even if you and your boyfriend or girlfriend were at the same school you still had the time and made the effort to do things together and nurture your relationship.

Chances are, you and your bf/gf are not at the same grad school ó and if youíre really committed to doing the long-distance thing, more power to you. But in grad school, maintaining a healthy, loving, and thriving relationship can be challenging as your academic schedule is more taxing than ever. However, if youíre really set on continuing your relationship, make sure to keep the lines of communication honest and open, set aside time to talk, and plan some visits.

Your boyfriend or girlfriend can actually be a really good source of support to you in grad school so even though your relationship may come with its challenges as grad school is demanding, you may find having a romantic partner to be a strength.

Relationships with Professors.

Many students donít take advantage of their professors during their undergrad years and fail to really get to know them or visit them during office hours. Youíd simply show up to class, do your work, and be happy being one of the many faces in the class. In grad school, your relationships with your professors should be different ó and itís important you do whatís necessary to make them that way.

Show up to office hours within the first week of classes to introduce yourself, talk to your professors, get to know them, and establish yourself in their eyes as a mature and responsible adult who is eager to learn. Prove yourself as a student by actively engaging in class and being prepared; donít keep your head down, avoid eye contact, and not participate in a discussion like lots of undergrad students are wont to do.

Relationships with Friends.

As your friends all graduate from undergrad alongside you or within a few years of you, youíll all be splitting up and heading in different directions. Some of your friends may start working right away, others will begin law school, business school, or med school, and still others will also prepare to start grad school, though not necessarily at the same university or with the same focus as you. As your paths diverge and you all embark on new and different journeys, your friendships will change as well.

You may find you donít talk as much to some friends as you used to when you were in undergrad together or at least at the same time. Other friends you may grow closer to as they face many of the same challenges you do as you continue your education. Even if you find you have less time to connect and catch up during grad school, make sure you stay in touch with friends ó even if itís just a quick text to say youíre thinking of them or that your life is really busy at the moment ó anddonít let those relationships fade.

Relationships with Peers.

In undergrad, there may have been a clearer divide between those who really excelled in class and those who didnít necessarily try as hard. When you get to grad school, youíll find the experience is much different as pretty much everyone in your grad school program and classes will be bright, engaged, motivated, knowledgeable, and striving for perfection. You may not end up being the shining star pupil or frontrunner in your class ó and itís okay. In fact, this may help you build good and healthy relationships with your peers since you wonít be as driven by a fierce sense of competitiveness.

Thatís not to say you wonít feel the need to compete or that others in your program wonít consider themselves in competition with you, but if you actually take the time to make connections and friends, youíll find the grad school experience to be much easier. Your peers from grad school may prove to be valuable networking contacts to have later in life and having good relationships with your peers will be helpful as you navigate your years of grad school.

All in all, many of your relationships will change upon your commencement of grad school ó so donít stay stagnant and resist those changes; you may realize those changes are for the better and are simply a part of growing up and maturing, especially when compared to your relationships in undergrad.
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