8 Ways Grad School Is Totally Different From Your Undergrad


Many students tend to believe that grad school is just an extension of their undergraduate degree, but there’s a lot more to it than that!

From your classes to your classmates, grad school is a whole new ball game and you need to make sure you’re prepared. If you’re planning to pursue postgraduate education, here are 8 things you need to know.

1. The age gap between you and your peers tends to widen in grad school.

For instance, some people decide to take a break after their undergrad and travel, while others return to school after years of professional experience in the workforce. These different backgrounds only add to the classroom dynamic and often make for lively discussions.

2. Campus life tends to dwindle, and that’s ok!

pizza people

Grad students usually become more involved with their department versus the university as a whole, but campus-wide activities are still worth checking out if you have the time. Plus, can’t we all find time for events that include free food?

3. The focus of your program will be much more specialized and the workload is going to be more intense (but you knew that already).

If you’re intimidated, be proactive! Keep a calendar and designate time for studying, assignments and breaks. Also look into the academic resources your school offers like writing workshops and study skills courses.

4. Your campus navigation skills might not be as good as they were in undergrad.


As a grad student, the only buildings you’ll likely have memorized are the library and the one designated for your program. Still, don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone and explore your campus. Who knows, you might find a new favourite study spot!

5. You’re expected to be more independent in a program with less structure.

In a grad program, you will be much more responsible for deciding the structure and direction of your course of study. Don’t be nervous – this is your chance to learn what truly interests you and collaborate with people who have similar passions.

6. You’re going to be part of a program that’s much smaller than your undergrad.


There’s no hiding in the back row in grad school! Smaller class sizes mean you’ll be much more visible to your professors and peers and you will all get to know each other rather well.

7. You could have the option to become the teacher yourself.

Some grad students are offered the opportunity to be Teaching Assistants for undergraduate students. It’s a big time commitment (someone has to mark all those exams!) but if you decide to take it on, it can be a great resume booster.

8. Unlike undergrad, most grad programs include a research or thesis component.

book with glasses

You will develop research questions, design studies, write papers, and work closely with a talented faculty member, otherwise known as your supervisor. Their job is to guide and assist you in each stage of your independent study from research methodology all the way to the possible publication of your work.

Even though grad school is quite different from your undergrad, it’s a change worth pursuing. Keep this list in mind as you begin your journey to help make your transition more comfortable!

Want to learn more about Grad School? Check out our Career Guide!