Tips For Surviving Your First Year of Graduate School

by | Apr 18, 2019 | Education Feature

Graduate school can be tough. Your professors will expect more of you than they might have as an undergraduate, and you’ll have more research and assignments you’ll to complete on your own. But if you take some advice from people who’ve survived it, you’ll have an easier time figuring things out and not falling behind.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Many graduate students feel too intimidated to approach their professors to ask for help or clarification. But on the contrary, most professors would rather you seek them out than fumble your projects because you don’t understand a concept. In fact, many of them use teaching assistants (TAs) for this very purpose. So, even if you can’t catch your instructors in their offices, you can usually find contact information for their TAs in your syllabi or on their doors.

Budget wisely

Managing finances is among the top stressors graduate students face. They may have less time to work, less parental support, and more expenses than ever before. And many graduate students are required to do unpaid internships for their majors, so they may not have time to earn money at all. The best thing you can do to combat this is to learn to budget wisely right from the start. Take a class or ask your parents’ advice if you must, but learn to cut back as much as you can. Also, take every school break as an opportunity to make extra cash. Keep your ears open all year for odd jobs you can do, such as babysitting or dog walking.

Get informed about available resources

Most colleges have resources available to their students they never even know about. These resources are designed to help students remain on campus as much as possible and get the assistance they need in areas where they struggle. And they’re almost always free. Some of these resources include counseling, minor medical care, writing centers, tutoring, and workout facilities. Check out your student activity center to see what’s available to you.

Get connected

One of the best ways to ensure your survival in graduate school is by getting connected and staying involved with the college community. This includes joining clubs, attending mixers, and even just hanging out in the activity center. Clubs and volunteer opportunities are great for padding your resume and networking with local business people. But even social gatherings can get you connected to people who can help you become successful. More than that, though, is the sense of belonging you get from being involved with your campus family. They’re the people who share your experience and support you when times get tough.

Know your weaknesses

No one can be good at everything, but if you have a weakness that’s affecting your work, find a way to strengthen it. For example, if you are a weak writer, consider looking for the best research papers for sale. Some students submit all their research and work very closely with a ghostwriter to produce graduate-level work. You can use these papers to help enforce your own skills. And you can even tweak these papers to match your own personal voice and style.

Get organized

Organizing your time and work is much more important in graduate school than it probably ever has been. Most students work in addition to attending class. And their workloads are much larger than it was while they were getting their undergraduate degrees. As soon as you get your class schedule every semester, write each class time in your planner. Then, try to plan out each week in advance around important events. Be sure to make time for relaxation and socializing, but try not to let yourself get distracted by more tempting activities.

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