Grad School in Europe (Part 2): If I Had Only Known

I’ve already mentioned that my initial decision to go to grad school in Europe was a bit rash; but that it (luckily) was the best thing I could have done for myself professionally. It put me on a path I didn’t know existed and now, I’m specialized in a field I loveBut don’t be fooled. Grad school was challenging…even more so doing it in another country.

But don’t be fooled. Grad school was challenging…even more so doing it in another country.

Had I known when you should choose grad school over working, the time investment needed, and the potential gains to be made towards my career goals, I would have done things differently. Instead, I chose to attend grad school purely to give myself 2 more years in Europe without totally sabotaging my career prospects.

THINGS I SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED

There were so many things I hadn’t considered before I began my search for my dream master’s program. I hadn’t even considered things like the actual difference between a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. From the workload to the amount of independent learning that took place…it was a total shock to me. I managed to balance my studies with a *healthy* social life, but not without a cost. Sure, I got hired to work on a project funded by the European Commission and landed my dream job after graduating. But today, I can see how some of my peers are getting ahead professionally while I’m trying to make up for lost time…despite all the right things I did during grad school. They’re ahead because of what they did (or didn’t do) during the same time I chose to ‘get a degree AND learn about the culture’. They were more intentional about their motivations for attending that particular program; while I was not.

There were other things I hadn’t thought about before I began Googling potential programs. I had considered the language of instruction; but I hadn’t for example, considered how the learning environment would be different. And it was. From the relationships between professors and students to the number of ways to write an academic paper, it was all new to me. One tangible example of how this lack of awareness impacted me were my first semester grades. They were…less than ideal.

AVOIDING SIMPLE MISTAKES

Had I thought about it strategically from the beginning, I would have done things differently. I would have done more research on the program, it’s reputation and how it aligned with my goals. I would have also spoken to enrolled students (there were no alumni at the time; I was part of the 2nd cohort of the program) to hear about their experiences. And the list goes on and on.

Don’t leave it up to chance like I did. You deserve the best experience with the maximum return on your investment.

At that time, there was no guide to help me decide whether to go to grad school or not…let alone how to choose a suitable master’s degree program in Europe. I’ve written a few posts on this topic (like this one and this one), but there’s still so much more to say about it. That’s why I’ve written a book to help you choose and get accepted into the right European master’s program. Download your free copy here.


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4 thoughts on “Grad School in Europe (Part 2): If I Had Only Known

  1. I very carefully considered my program, and got into my first choice. I’m confident I picked the right one, but I do wish that I had done more research up front as to the teaching style and what not. I am in a multidisciplinary program. While I went to a liberal arts college for my undergrad, I have no background in politics, and it’s difficult to try to make up for that in the first semester. Needless to say, I also have less than satisfactory grades for the first semester (of those that have been released; I’m still waiting for two more).

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    1. Lynnae, there is so much to think about when learning in a different context. So you’re not alone in having this dilemma. The fact that you’re thinking about this and are so aware of it means you’ll be successful in the future. I’m sure of it! Until then, please don’t hesitate to write if you have any questions. Just out of curiosity, where are you from and where are you studying now? – P

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      1. Pouneh, I’m from a small town in rural Missouri. I’m studying in southern Germany now. This is actually my third study abroad. I did a mini-term in Mexico my junior year and a semester in Northern Ireland my senior year. They were huge experiences at the time and I learned a lot, but they were nothing compared to committing to two years of graduate study!

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      2. Sounds like a familiar story…study abroad in college just wasn’t enough!

        I wish you lots of luck in grad school. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions along the way. And if you ever find yourself in Copenhagen, DK or Lund/Malmo, SE let me know!

        – Pouneh

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