Starting up graduate school after my third graduate degree

Duane Gundrum
4 min readSep 5, 2023
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Many years ago, I went to graduate school in West Michigan. Before that, I had mistakenly assumed my undergraduate years had adequately prepared me for graduate school and that the next few years were going to be a breeze.

Boy, was I wrong.

I remember sitting in one of those graduate classrooms. You know the one I’m talking about. There’s one table, and all twelve students and the professor sit around that table. This, I believe, was designed to allow the bantering to take place as one big group.

It also served as a great vehicle to show that there was no way to wing it through a discussion on political philosophy, something I tried to do way too often. And that professor could see right through it every time. He would give me that side-eye look whenever I tried to answer with something that sounded very much like what someone would come up with while reading the back of the book ten minutes before class started.

My first semester was awful. I probably should have quit right then and there. Graduate school was not for someone like me, someone who thought he could wing it instead of actually study the required material.

I decided to stick it out, mainly because I had nothing else going on in my life, and that was something I had moved across the country to do. So, may as well change my ways, or I’d be moving back home, somewhat humiliated by my experience.

The second semester, I changed my ways. Instead of winging it, I read the required material. Not only that, but everytime one of my professors mentioned another book of significance, I wrote down the book and then bought it off Amazon, quickly reading it before the next class. I did this with all of my classes.

What I then started to notice was that my professors noticed. Slowly, as the semester rolled on, I noticed that when I answered something, my professors smiled and instead of immediately turning to another student, they bantered with me and offered opinions to help me culture my opinions even further.

And then what I started to notice was that whenever I read a book, the purpose in graduate school was much different than undergraduate work. As an undergraduate, when you read a book, it was…

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Duane Gundrum

Author of Innocent Until Proven Guilty and 15 other novels. Writer, college professor and computer game designer.