Thoughts on Independence and Making the Transition from Undergraduate to Graduate Studies

The most significant change that a new graduate student makes when transitioning from undergraduate work to graduate work is accepting (and enjoying) the following fact: You are ultimately here to learn how to become an independent scholar and teacher.  Yes, you’ll take classes for the first few years of your Master’s or PhD program–and some of my most rewarding moments at IU have been in the classroom–but in the end, you’ll be learning a great deal about how you work independently.  There are many resources to help you, from an excellent faculty to a great library, but at the end of the day, it’s really all about YOU: your passion for your subject, your growing understanding of your field, and your dedication to the work.  When you think about it, graduate students are privileged to be able to devote hours of time, every day, to thinking, writing, reading, learning, and teaching subject matter we love.  A truism that’s true: What you put into your graduate studies is what you’ll get out of them.  Learning to produce the kind of scholarship you can be proud of is a goal worth striving towards, and it means committing wholeheartedly to an independence of mind, body, and spirit that challenges and liberates you every day. In the best of all possible worlds, graduate study allows you to think about (and honor) both your work (and yourself) in a new way.