Whether you just graduated or have years of work experience, starting graduate school is a big transition.

Ezra Serrins, MPP Class of 2023, writes about his experience moving to Hyde Park and how Orientation Programs gave him the opportunity to adjust to the graduate school environment. 

If you’re anything like me, your greatest concern when making your graduate school decision will be about making the transition to a new phase of your life. Where will I live? What will it be like there? How will classes work? How will I meet new people? were a few of the many questions running through my head as I began preparing to start at Harris last fall. 

Drastic life changes may feel alienating, but the sense of home I discovered in Hyde Park and through Orientation Programs before starting classes at Harris made the transition so much easier.

In the past, the places I had lived were relatively homogenous. At my undergraduate institution, most students were at a similar stage of their life and had similar goals to mine—they were also pretty similar in terms of race, class, backgrounds, and motivations. 

The diversity in Hyde Park, the neighborhood in which the University of Chicago is based, is a refreshing contrast to that feeling of sameness. Hyde Park isn’t just an isolated neighborhood of students—it’s also home to families, a mixture of long-term and short-term residents, and people with a variety of jobs and careers. As I walk into campus or go grocery shopping, I don’t just see other students: I also see people out walking their dogs or on their way to work or picking up kids from school. The surrounding neighborhoods help to inform the study of public policy, as they provide context for understanding the lives of people most affected by policy decisions. 

Another crucial part of the transition to Harris was easing into life as a student through Orientation Programs. For example, I participated in Math & Coding Camp, which provided a comfortable way to get back into classroom routines and make new friends, all while preparing for the rigorous Core courses

I recommend taking every opportunity to meet other students before the start of the fall quarter to build a sense of community and become accustomed to your new environment. 

As you prepare to begin your studies at Harris, I recommend getting acquainted with Hyde Park and joining Orientation Programs that will smooth the transition to the next chapter of your life.

If you enjoyed reading this post, check out this post on Building Community During Orientation by Tylor Collier, MPP Class of 2023. 
Also visit our blog to learn more about places to explore in Hyde Park.