by April 9, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

From Lauren Levine. Email her at lauren[AT]


Students at American University.                  (Luis Gomez Photos)

As a young professional, you’re inevitably friends with a person or two who is currently attending graduate school. In DC, we’re surrounded by many fine institutions of higher learning and the odds of being acquaintances, friends or even dating a graduate student increases greatly.

But I’m going to go ahead and put this out there — grad students can be tough to be around. Some are certainly better than others. So, without further ado, the five types of grad students from best to worst.

The Academic

They’ve resigned themselves to a life of elbow pads and tweed, and you have to respect them for it. They’re following that niche passion of theirs, be it classical architecture or Japanese poetry, and know that they probably won’t make a lot of money or get much notoriety.

They just love to soak up knowledge, and you have to love them for it. It’s inspiring.

The Part-Time Professional

You may have one of these guys or gals in your office — the student who is also working part- or full-time.

Because of the forced interaction with professionals who, you know, get up at the same time every day and sit at desks and stuff, they manage to maintain a good grasp of what’s happening in the world and when it is or is not an acceptable time to talk about how much debt they are going to have to pay off.

The Med School Student

Yes, some of them manage the stress better than others, and the ones who don’t do it well can be a doozy to be around. But for the most part I’m always impressed with a med school student’s ability to leave that hospital and party like they weren’t just wrist-deep in a cadaver.

Plus, how much better is it to ask your friend about your embarrassing symptom than asking WebMD ?

The Practical Degree

This is extremely common in DC in particular: the person getting a degree in something practical like international affairs, business, public policy or public health. I get it — you need that “MA” on your resume to get your dream job. But please stop talking about your debt, your thesis or how busy you are.

The best of these people are the ones who also work part time. The worst are the ones who have multiple masters. Are you trying to one-up Van Wilder? Are you aware that the goal of these degrees is usually this “job” thing? What are you really searching for?

The Law School Student

You knew it was coming — law school students are the absolute worst. I understand that the freakishly competitive and close-knit environment of law school makes you revert back to your high school behaviors, that after a hard exam it’s like you’re drinking alcohol for the very first time, that your study group is essentially your social universe right now and that you have probably entered into a massive amount of debt without any promise of an actual career after you’re done.

But, please, listen:  you chose this. You saw all those Times articles about how we do not need any more lawyers, but you persevered. “No,” you said, “I am really good at arguing — I always get my way.” Ugh, Elle Woods, that’s the worst argument in favor of going to law school I’ve ever heard. Best of luck in the next few years — I’ll meet you at your bar exam party.

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