When I first got in to graduate school, I really had no idea what I was getting in to. I thought it’d be like undergraduate studies, but harder. Not really. You definitely do a lot more unguided, independent work. You don’t have someone telling you what to do, so it’s up to you to figure out what you need to read and what you want to work on.
This illustrated guide to a PhD from computer science professor Matthew Might sums it up nicely.
By the end of high school, you know a little bit, by the end of a bachelor’s degree you start to specialize, and towards the end of a PhD, you’ve made it to the edge of human knowledge in a very small area of all there is to know in the world. Your job is to push that edge out some by the time you finish.
It’s all so clear to me now.