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So you want to go to grad school?
Future grad students of the world unite!
Maybe a silly question 
17th-Mar-2010 06:17 pm
So I was looking through the tags on the journal and I couldn't find anything relating to this topic... and perhaps this is a really silly question but I'm honestly curious as I have not been in this situation before. I was wondering if anyone knows what is one supposed to wear to grad school classes? I mean, I've read that grad school is supposed to be considered a job moreso than school. So maybe they want business casual or something? I really don't know and I know this is silly, but does anyone know?


Thanks for all the help and feedback everyone!
17th-Mar-2010 11:23 pm (UTC)
just wear whatever. who cares? it's not a job interview.
17th-Mar-2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
What field?

I've generally considered grad school a license to dress badly - but then, my father was a CS prof.
17th-Mar-2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
To classes? Depends on the school - some business schools require or encourage formal or casual business wear, but I'd say most academic programs are more laid-back. There was a thread on this over at gradstudents some time in the last month.
17th-Mar-2010 11:50 pm (UTC)
wear something kind of nice on the first day and get a feel for how others are dressed. In my department, usually grad students will wear something casual, but maybe not jeans.
18th-Mar-2010 12:01 am (UTC)
Depends if I'm TA-ing that day or not.
18th-Mar-2010 12:19 am (UTC)
It'll depend on your field (especially if doing lab- or field-work), but I wouldn't sweat it. Wear what you want to. Most of my cohort (MA in history) wore jeans, sometimes with nicer tops and sometimes with tees.
18th-Mar-2010 12:33 am (UTC)
i'm in english and you can literally wear whatever. people who feel more comfortable dressed up dress up, people who feel more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt wear jeans and a t-shirt.
18th-Mar-2010 12:57 am (UTC)
You can get away with casual, no problem. In fact, it's your hygiene that's more important. People in grad school get busy, and some people tend to smell like they skipped a shower and tried to cover it up with aftershave. Do not do that.

18th-Mar-2010 01:05 am (UTC) - of people dress a tiny bit nicer- like no band t shirts- but some wear those too. A few wear slacks
At my school, usually jeans, unless you're in a business school/law school. Many people dress a tiny bit nicer than undergrads- like no crappy t-shirts and no light blue jeans- but some wear that stuff too. (Dark jeans and solid colored t shirt from like old navy is totally the grad student uniform for those still in classes) A few wear slacks and nicer business casual shirts, usually those who had a 'real job' before starting. Later on if/when you start teaching you'll want to dress a bit nicer on teaching days.

I would start in business casual the first few days, and check out the older grad students and their clothes and then adjust accordingly.
18th-Mar-2010 01:51 am (UTC)
I wear jeans and various forms of tee shirts (long sleeve, short sleeve, 3/4 length sleeve, random colors). Then again, I'm in the sciences and no one expects you to do lab work in your good clothes.
18th-Mar-2010 02:42 am (UTC)
My program required me to take a med school class, and they sometimes had patients come in to talk about their condition. Those were the only days we were expected to dress nice out of respect.

I've noticed that the med students I took class with did gradually start dressing better. Their first year was more like undergrad except on the patient visit days, then started to dress nicer during second year and then by the end of their second year when they were in rotations they started wearing business casual all the time.

For the grad students it was:
year 1: jeans and a tee-shirt/sweater
year 2: jeans and tee-shirt/sweater
oral qualifying exam: Dress nice!
year 3-6: jeans and a tee-shirt

This is the sciences, you usually don't want to dress up in lab.

That said I've started dressing better this year because I worry that no one takes me seriously (When I presented at my departmental journal club and wore nice pants and a nice shirt one of the faculty asked me why I was dressed like an adult)
18th-Mar-2010 04:58 am (UTC)
It depends on department culture, but most of us wear jeans, t-shirts, polos, and the like. I just wear nicer shirts on days I teach section; I'd dress up more if I were teaching my own class, but university culture here doesn't really demand you wear 'nice' clothes to get covered in chalk with if you're merely a lowly TA.
18th-Mar-2010 06:27 am (UTC)
I suppose this depends on the program, but my honest answer is...

Technically you can show up in your pajamas, but I would strongly recommend dressing nicely in this situation. I agree with the posters that recommend this. Not necessarily suit-and-tie nice, but be professional. I agree that grad school is completely different than undergrad in that you really building more professional contacts. These are the people (and teachers) that will be future references, research partners, colleagues, the list goes on and on. How you carry yourself in class and around campus- from dress to mannerism - is going to be how they remember you.

This is something I didn't think about specifically before I went back to school, I just handled myself professionally because I was taking it very seriously. Some of the people I've met through school are the best personal references I have going into a really horrible job market.

I didn't really think about how much people actually do notice and remember stuff like this (even if they don't think they do.) I usually went to class straight from work (which helped the "looking professional" effort.) One day I stopped by the house first to let the dogs out and I changed into jeans and a hoodie, because it was getting chilly. A few people during break asked if I was feeling alright. Not a makeup/actual sickness thing - it was just based on my clothing. Apparently I had been building a professional persona without realizing it.

On the flip side, I've worn fuzzy slippers, jeans and a hoodie to art openings intentionally because I think the fashion shows at those types of events is silly and kind of elitist, and I'd rather be comfortable. People have liked that I'm not an art bitch and I've made connections and friends I probably wouldn't have if people thought I was in it just for the "scene."

However, I've also heard the high roller at the poker table is usually the most casually dressed.

Maybe I shouldn't give advice when I'm sleepy. I'm chatty and it's all over the board. The moral of the story? You shouldn't judge a book by a cover, but people often do, so plan accordingly.
18th-Mar-2010 11:22 am (UTC)
Thanks for all the help everyone!!! I appreciate it.
18th-Mar-2010 12:06 pm (UTC)
Perspective from a professor in the humanities: grad students (and faculty, for that matter) wear pretty much whatever. The difference between grad and undergrad "whatever" is that grad students don't tend to wear pj's to class or bare skin the way undergrads seem to these days. In other words, a grownup "whatever" instead of a teenish "whatever" is the way to go. Grungy but modest is the norm. And I can report from both being in and teaching in grad programs that there are always a few people who really dress up - as in, suits - and they tend to be regarded as trying *way* too hard. When you're teaching as a TA, it's appropriate to aim for an academic version of business casual - e.g. no jeans; maybe jacket with no tie if male, or, if female, skirt or nice slacks with a nice blouse or sweater. Kickass boots are always correct. But it's my observation that only the youngest and least-secure grad student teachers go all matchy-matchy with a suit, and it always looks like they're trying to hard, and never succeeds in making them look older. Undergrads have surely noticed that the only people they ever see at the head of a class wearing a suit are the least experienced and secure teachers. You can take your cue about what to wear when teaching from the more senior grad students in your program.
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