3 Surprising Benefits of Grad School

By Dan Weagle, Account Exec & part-time grad student, WPI Corporate & Professional Education

My fellow bloggers have covered the professional benefits of part-time grad school for working professionals. But as someone who’s recently become a part-time grad student, I think the other bloggers missed something. Three things, actually. Here’s a little inside scoop from someone who is living the grad-school life.

#1. I’ve kept my New Year’s Resolution without even trying.
Heading into 2017, I wanted to make better use of my time. That meant reading more, watching less TV, and spending less time lurking on Instagram and Twitter. I had no idea how much grad school would help me stick to my guns! Thanks to my Organizational Behavior course, I’m reading a ton: 3 textbooks and multiple case studies in the first 7 weeks of my course alone. Plus, the readings are relevant to my life as a working professional, so it never feels like busy work. Since I’m reading more, naturally I’m watching TV and tweeting/scrolling less.

Having to balance grad school with a full-time job and family has pushed me to better organize my time and use it well. This means making weekly schedules on Sunday nights—don’t forget to plug in family downtime!—and sticking to them. Now I’m more efficient everywhere, especially at work. If I start writing an email that I know will set off a time-consuming chain of additional emails, I stop. I get up and have a 5-minute face-to-face or phone conversation instead, and cross that task off my list.

#2. I spend less money.

Less time on Twitter = more quality baby-time for Dad, too!

Less time on Twitter = more quality baby-time for Dad, too!

Advertising on social media has completely exploded. What’s more: ads have gotten so targeted, the stuff I was seeing come up on my timelines was geared directly toward me, with offers from my favorite stores. Let’s just say that, as it related to me, there was a high success rate for these campaigns. I found myself buying a new seasonal jacket or a different shade of jeans when my existing jacket and jeans were perfectly fine and serviceable.

Less time on social media (and less time for trips to peruse some of my favorite stores) means I am spending less money on things I don’t need. That’s not just good for my wallet; it’s good for the environment as I am only buying what I need. (Cue that famous Patagonia ad campaign…)

#3. I communicate better with my wife.
You might think that taking on grad school on top of a full-time job might strain your personal relationships. Even I didn’t anticipate that taking graduate courses would benefit my relationship with my wife, but it has. The first time I noticed this was when I brought up the idea of going back to school for a master’s degree. This topic set off a bigger conversation about our family’s future: our goals, hopes, and desires. And this led to us sitting together to outline the path to achieving these dreams.

Now that I’m actually in school, communication is crucial. At the start of each week, I share with my wife the schedule I’ve created and the times I plan to block off for course reading and project work.  My wife shares her schedule as well and together we prioritize obligations, find creative solutions to scheduling conflicts, and finalize the weekly game plan that best benefits our family. It feels great to be so in sync with each other. We are becoming better teammates every day, and that’s good for us, and our son who’s absorbing everything like a sponge right now (sponge in question pictured above).

 

Will these be your unexpected grad-school benefits? Maybe. Maybe you’ll have 3 completely different ones, or more. What I do know is this: when you are open about where you want to go in life and start taking steps to reach those goals, good things start to happen. So good, they may surprise you.

 

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