Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Grad School

9.2.2015

CLASSY

ConGRADulations! You’re in Grad School – Now What?

I can’t believe how fast summer has gone by! Summer ends every year so this should be no surprise. Fall and pumpkin spice everything is just around the corner and school is back in session, well almost. My very first day of grad school is next Monday. I have mixed emotions about this new adventure – nervous jitters, excitement and fear of the unknown.

When applying for grad school I was so thrilled about going back to school because I love school, I love everything about it. I wish I could make learning, studying and networking with classmates my career. It’s a dream come true to be able to jump right back into college for my masters in Marketing Management just one year after finishing undergrad. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and thankful to the wonderful company I work for.

I could not be happier with the great job opportunity that I have been given. The company I work for is like a dream. Amazing people, great location in the heart of the nation’s capital and wonderful benefits including a very generous tuition assistance program. I would be lost in a big ole pile of debt if it wasn’t for my company aiding me in educational growth. For this I will be forever grateful. I am excited to see where my continued education takes me in this company.

Needless to say, I am a full-time working professional. The fear of maintaining both my career as well as my schoolwork and grades are a bit daunting to say the least. The excitement of beginning this new chapter has quickly turned into fear and nervousness. That’s why I’m writing this open letter/list of tips for surviving AND thriving in graduate school to make myself feel more prepared. On my worst and most stressful days I can glance back at this short list I wrote and recollect my thoughts.

  1. Learn when you’re most productive and when you aren’t – Grad school is a lot of work and can be very challenging at times especially trying to juggle multiple facets of everyday life. Know how you learn as an individual to be able to efficiently designate time to both class and work, separately.
  2. Reading is a skill you must become good at – reading smarter not harder is key. Think about why it is that you’re reading the article and continue to relate it back to your class or your paper. Focus on bullet points and chapter headings to cut down on time spent reading.
  3. Focus on learning – spend less time worrying about your grades and more time focusing on learning and absorbing as much information as possible. Unlike undergrad, grad school is more about learning and continuing your education than worrying about acing a test. You have chosen this degree to become a professional in whatever it is that you’re studying. You wouldn’t have selected this degree if you weren’t at least somewhat passionate about it.
  4. Networking with others – consult fellow classmates, peers and professional mentors to seek advice on how they work and tips to success. Networking is probably one of the best tools in this time. It is a great way to learn about different specializations and areas you might be unfamiliar with. While it’s not all about who you know, a lot of the time, it helps tremendously.
  5. Have fun – take this opportunity to learn but also have fun. Grad school is a very short time in your life, absorb as much as you can while it’s available to you. Most importantly, have a life outside of school. Focus on your well-being. Go to the gym, hang out with friends, spend time with family, whatever it is, have an outlet to let your mind rest so you don’t become burnt out.

To all of my fellow grad students out there, best of luck to you on your journey to graduation day! Stay focused, stay committed, work hard, and stay humble.

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