The Sceptical Chymist | Materials Girl: Old school, new school

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Posted on behalf of Materials Girl

Fourth year as an undergrad reminds me of being a high-school senior, only more complicated with the wider range of post-graduation options. Still, the ultimate goal generally remains the same: to secure a source of income while pursuing personal interests. (This poses an interesting question regarding why people even go to college – to get a better job, for the pure joy of learning, because it’s expected, to avoid the real world? Aside from the last part, I fell in the category of “all of the above”).

In the high school days, seniors were expected to spend their time applying to colleges, taking standardized tests (ugh), battling senioritis, and trying not stress out over academics and the future. Now, it seems that continuing education past a Bachelor’s is less expected outside of scientific circles – even to the point of being looked down on by uninformed individuals. “You’re graduating already?! Are you going to work or do grad school?” is posed almost as an afterthought. Apparently, old, moldy college students aren’t interesting to the general public. They’re interested in what school I attend (meaning the accompanying sports teams), and perhaps my major. Upon hearing, “chemistry and materials science” I am often written off as just another nerd or pre-med. Nevermind the organic concentration!

The hardships of graduate school and research go tragically unnoticed by the masses. However, what really matters is that we exist, we do good work, we make a difference, and we are happy. Or so I tell myself…

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