Attending graduate school is a great decision for continuing education and gaining skills. But deciding which school to apply for and filling out applications is a difficult process. These difficulties continue once you get into graduate school. Graduate school is time consuming and often overwhelming. Based on my experience from my master’s program, here are five tips to help you survive graduate school.
1. Set Long-term and Short-term Goals
A great tip to survive graduate school is to keep the long term goal of obtaining your degree in mind. With your program adviser, teaching assistant manager, class professors and colleagues wanting your time, graduate school in any field can be overwhelming. Setting a flexible date for when you would like to graduate can help you stay on track. Once you have this date, set short term goals to help you achieve your long term goal. Short term goals include daily goals such as reading two peer-review publications to weekly goals such as grading your students’ homework for the class you teach.
2. Stay Organized
To go along with your goals, writing to-do lists is a great strategy to help stay organized and on task. Writing a to-do list first thing in the morning helps to clear the mind and organize the day. The to-do list can include daily living activities such as taking out the trash and laundry and it should include activities that will help you reach your long term goal of obtaining a degree. Write the list on a piece of paper or one a computer word document and refer to the to-do list throughout the day to cross of done items and to remind yourself of thing you still would like to accomplish during the day.
3. Ask Questions and Ask for Help
Use the resources that are available and ask lots of questions and ask for help. Your advisor is there to help guide you through graduate school and to help you gain skills. Your adviser will help you decide on classes and help you set-up a plan so you can graduate on time. Use your colleagues that have been around for at least a year to learn about the department and the daily
4. Create A Budget
Graduate school is useful for continuing education and gaining skills, but the financial situation of graduate school is often difficult. Creating a budget and living within your means is a great tip. Using your strengths to help save you money is a great idea. For example, I enjoy cooking and grocery shopping; therefore, I spend time making a lunch everyday instead of spending money at restaurants. Following a budget will help reduce some of the stress encountered in graduate school.
5. Schedule Time for Fun
Scheduling time for doing something fun is essential to keep yourself well rounded and to help reduce stress. My fellow graduate students and I spend time cooking dinner together at least once a week. Doing this allows us to have some time for fun and it also helps us save money by just having to contribute one food item for the meal. Researching local free activities is also a great idea.
I hope these tips give you some useful strategies to help make graduate school a great experience and less stressful. Please feel free to add your own tips in the comment section.