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Oh, the Places You’ll Go (or stay?)

As an undergraduate student at Queen’s University, it seemed like a no-brainer when deciding where I would be extending my education. With a degree in sociology and four years of living in Kingston, I was more than willing to continue down the path that I had already started. After sending in my application for the master’s program, I crossed my fingers and waited patiently for the results. In early February, I was more than pleased to discover that I had been accepted into the program and I would be continuing my education in sociology. On my first day of orientation, I was excited, yet nervous, to begin this new phase of my life. However, I was comforted by the familiarity of my department and was immediately greeted by faculty members who had taught me in my undergrad. The room was welcoming, as I met other graduate students who were also beginning in the program, as well as new professors who were joining the department. A large spread of sandwiches and other finger foods were consumed as people mingled and became acquainted with one another. On my way home from the event, I felt justified in my decision to attend the master’s program and I was ready to take on my new role. 

Currently, I am one semester into the program and would like to share the things that people don’t tell you about the transition from undergraduate to graduate school, within the same university. 

The first major shift that I experienced at the start of the program was the imposter syndrome. For those who may not know, imposter syndrome is the occurrence in which an individual doubts their abilities and often fears that others will perceive them as a fraud. This is a feeling that I had not experienced in my life until this very moment. Within my department, it is standard for graduate students to become teaching assistants for the sociology courses that are offered at the university. Particularly, first-year master’s students are often required to teach the introductory course for first-year undergraduate students. As a Queen’s student myself, the Introduction to Sociology course was one of many introductory courses that I had taken in my first year. As you could imagine, there was no stranger feeling than being asked to teach a course that I had attended just four years prior. In my first week of running tutorials, I felt extremely unqualified. However, as time goes on, I have adjusted well into my role and feel confident as a teaching assistant. 

The second thing that I had not anticipated in graduate school was the transition from student to colleague. As mentioned, many of my own professors are still apart of the sociology department. Within the first week of my orientation, I had attended multiple events where students were able to get to know the faculty. For new-coming students to Queen’s University, it seemed easy to engage with professors on a first-name basis and ask them questions about their lives. Personally, it was difficult for me to feel regarded as a colleague, and not as an undergraduate student. Although this is something that I’ve grown comfortable with over time, I will continue to refer to my own professors as doctor.

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