Graduate School Is Painful - Don't Make It Worse

    Posted on Monday, Apr 02, 2018
    My parents always insisted that my sister and I be respectful of others.
    “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
    Over the years, I have failed to always treat others fairly. Sometimes my own emotions become a priority over this value. Other times, I choose to treat others they way they have treated me – in this situation, no one wins. But the older I get, the more opportunities I find, and the new people I meet have all played into this rule my parents have preached to me for nearly 24 years.
    In middle school, kids were mean. In high school, girls somehow got even meaner. My father always referred to this as ‘girl mess’ – a title he still uses today when I him to discuss some of the drama in my life.
    In college, it seemed to get better. Many of us had life long friends at this point, some of us made brand new friends with very similar values – making it difficult not to treat others fairly. Many of us chose to leave ‘girl mess’ behind at this point. But for others it still continued – in the classroom, at work, at sorority meetings, even in our group messages. During this time, many students experience the discomfort of outgrowing friends or significant others. These painful experiences are heavy reminders to treat others kindly – as we never know what other people may be dealing with outside of the classroom.
    Graduate school should be a different story. Here we are, all spending A LOT of money to better our educations, and in turn, better the world. In this setting, we are working together on research projections, presentations for clients, committee meetings for professional organizations, and events for our fellow students, the wonderful faculty and amazing staff in our department. We spend nearly every waking moment with each other – from studying, completing problem sets, and writing papers to relaxing, playing intramurals, and celebrating birthdays, job offers and engagements.
    This is a time where treating each other the way you wish to be treated is imperative. Making negative remarks about others career ambitions is hurtful. Judging another person because of their political beliefs is hurtful. Discrediting someone’s intelligence because of his or her status as an international student is hurtful. Belittling students who completed other studies much quicker than expected is hurtful. Disrespecting someone because they are a ‘basic white girl’ is hurtful. Disrespecting someone because they are part of a minority group is hurtful.
    Graduate school in itself is painful enough. Don’t make it any harder on your classmates. We have no idea what each person is dealing with. Some of us may have extremely scary health issues and diagnoses to deal with. Others have difficult family problems that make completing another degree almost impossible. Some of us are constantly dealing with anxiety disorders, in a graduate program that acts as a breeding ground for more stress and anxiety. Some of us are just going through a rough patch, spending so much time including others that we begin to wonder why know one wants to include us.
    Disrespect needs to be discontinued before we enter graduate school, and especially before we enter the workplace as educated professionals. Disrespect, believe it or not, is unprofessional.
    We get busy focusing on our courses, assignments, committees and personal beliefs. We all need a reminder sometimes to treat others kindly and better than we have been treated. It is pretty simple to remember the ancient, but still applicable idea of treating others the way you want to be treated.
    Or, as a graduate student, step it up a notch.
    Treat others they way they want to be treated.

    Georgia "Gandy" Osburn
    Gandy is a first-year Master of Public Service and Administration student in the Bush School of Government and Public Service

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