In light of the fact that I will be asking my students to write an essay and give a speech on the very topic of Comparison/Contrast, I will now proceed with a short piece comparing and contrasting undergrad and graduate experiences. It will not be in proper essay format. Sue me, I'm not being graded.
The first thing I noticed after my first graduate course was the color of the sky as I walked out to my car. Black. The first difference in my graduate coursework is that it all takes place in the evening. Great for the Executive MBA, bad for the full time student used to an 8-5pm schedule.
The second thing that is different about graduate school is the focus of your coursework. On the first day you hit the ground running studying your chosen major, in depth. No longer need you attend two years of core classes before reaching a class of interest, no. If Communications is your thing (and it is), then Communications you will study from day one.
The third thing I find different, though I wonder how long it will last, is the amount of free time I have to complete my assigned reading and homework. Every day is a full day of nothingness, if I choose it to be so. However, there is one flaw in this masterplan of free time and that is the age-old conundrum of time management. Manage that free time wisely, kids, because three graduate courses worth of reading assignments usually amount to a week's worth of twelve-hour days.
This brings me to my last point. I began this Master's degree as a full-time student because I wanted to live and breathe my coursework. Be careful what you wish for. Not only am I teaching four classes per week, but I am finding myself putting in 10 and 12-hour days. I thought I went to school to avoid the 60-hour work week!