Graduate school is a unique and fulfilling experience. It is very different than undergraduate life. In undergrad, you can get away with cramming the night before and getting lucky with some of your classes. You also have a lot more time to play and get involved in extracurricular activities.
Graduate school is a whole different beast. Now that you’re a little older and a little wiser, you are expected to be responsible for your own future. You won’t have professors monitoring you or parents breathing down your neck.
You have to develop different skills in order to succeed. Being successful can be difficult for those who are unprepared. Read on to learn 7 expertly curated grad school tips.
1. Manage Your Time Wisely
Managing your time wisely is probably the most important skill you can have in grad school. It can be challenging to develop self-discipline and good time management skills.
Knowing how to budget your time efficiently is one of the single most important skills to have if you want to successfully navigate graduate school. There is no one right way. Everyone has a different approach that allows them to use their time the most efficiently for their schedule.
Knowing where you need to be when and what to do when is crucial. A great way to help organize your time is to make lists. Make long-term lists about your goals for your school career. Then make short-term lists that break your schedule down by semester, month, week, and day.
Organizational tools such as planners and calendars can be extremely helpful. Writing things down may help alleviate any sense of anxiety or overwhelming feelings. When you break things down, it may seem a lot more manageable.
Another great way to manage your time wisely is to learn how long it takes you to complete specific tasks. Once you have an idea about that, keep yourself in check and make sure you are not spending more time than necessary.
Allocating your time wisely will allow you to check off the things on your to-do list. Creating a balance in your life will not only make you more efficient, but it will also allow you to have an enjoyable graduate school experience.
2. Take Ownership
Taking ownership and responsibility for your academic career and your future is important for anyone in graduate school. Unlike undergrad, assignments in graduate school are not given as busy work.
Any work that is assigned is generally part of the research you conduct for your own scholarly pursuits. Taking ownership for your work will not only lead to you feeling more fulfilled but also paint a clear path for how you want your graduate school experience to be.
3. Read Smarter, Not Harder
There is a lot of reading in graduate school. Learning the skills to reading smarter, but not harder, will make your graduate school experience much easier.
Reading with purpose is essential when trying to retain important information. Learning how to efficiently break down the organization of a piece will help you learn the key points. Look at headers, headings, and bullet points for guidance.
You should know before you start reading why you are reading the piece and how it will fit into your research. Keep this in mind as you read, and you will learn to retain important points.
Learning what material is necessary for your purpose is also important. If you find that the piece you are reading doesn’t fit your paper or research, then stop. Many students will continue to read, which ends up just being a huge waste of time.
Taking notes is a great way of remembering the material. However, if you write down everything, you’ll never get through the large amounts of reading. When taking notes, summarizing the key points can be helpful.
4. Remember What You Hear
You will attend countless lectures in graduate school. Research shows that if you take notes during a lecture, you will retain information better. Focus and self-discipline are crucial for remembering the things you hear during a lecture.
If you are proficient at typing, taking down notes in a laptop could be very helpful. If you prefer writing and find that you retain information better that way, make sure you master the art of shorthand.
Trying to write down every single thing the professor says is not efficient. Not only is it a lot of work, but it is also a waste of time. You want to pick out keywords and organize your notes so that you will be able to understand when you review later.
5. Organize Your Life
All of your other skills will be enhanced if you are well organized. Organization is key for not only your academic success but also for you to keep your sanity during grad school.
Developing a system to keep track of your coursework will save you a lot of time. Keeping your work area free of clutter will also help you to focus.
Beyond your classes and your coursework, keeping the other aspects of your life organized will also ensure that you do not get stressed out or overwhelmed. Keep a calendar so that you don’t overbook or double book any activities.
6. Have a Life Outside of School
While it may seem impossible to have a life outside of school, time away from school is crucial to your well-being. Although keeping up with your academics is important for you to successfully finish graduate school, finding balance in other aspects of your life is also important.
Practicing good self-care is essential for your mental and emotional health. Make sure you are making time in your schedule for clubs and societies, social activities, and spending time with friends. Ensuring that you are in a good head space will actually increase your productivity and efficiency in your academic life.
Exercise and meditation can also be incredibly helpful. Find time in your daily schedule to take care of yourself. You will look back on your graduate school experience and thank yourself for it.
7. Make Professional Contacts
Graduate school is a great time to meet professionals in your field. Chances are that many of your classmates have already had years of work experience before returning back to school. Graduate schools now have many marketing strategies in order to find the best possible applicants. You can learn more about those strategies here.
Networking can help you establish great contacts for when you graduate and pursue your career goals. Professors are also a great resource. You may find that these contacts will be helpful after you graduate.
Ready to Use These Grad School Tips?
Graduate school may seem overwhelming and stressful, but it can also be one of the best experiences of your life. Knowing how to keep a good balance in your life is crucial for an enjoyable and successful experience.
Using the above grad school tips will ensure that you have the best possible experience. Being prepared for what you are about to face is the best way for you to successfully graduate.
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