So you are thinking about grad school or currently in grad school and you want to know how to successfully complete your program and still have a life.
I have done it and guess what I signed up for more torture because I am doing it again. Yes, I am back at school and taking on a new career change all at the same time. I did it before and I have all intentions of doing it again. Let me share with you how you can make it through graduate school and still keep your regular life in balance.
Here are my 6 tips on how to successfully complete your graduate program & still have a life
Before you apply to graduate school do these 2 things:
- Your key players: Talk to your spouse, children and work. Make sure these key players know you are going back to school and you will need their support. With your family inform them of the late nights and times you may not be available. With work ask them if they may be willing to change you schedule or allow you time off on days you have important presentations or assignments. Just keep everyone inform of this decision it make it easier. Set aside time for family days and don’t intertwine your school work and regular work.
- So many program options: Choose the program that fits your lifestyle and you believe will benefit your advancement. Ask yourself some questions like will the program be 100% online, in person, 50/50? Is the school accredited? Can you earn a certificate? Can the courses in this program grant you the qualifications to take a state board test for you to be licensed? Also check the career forecast of the major your program will be in will it increase in 5 or 10 years? Will getting this degree increase your employment and entrepreneurial value?
When starting graduate school use these 6 tips:
- Read/Write: Prepare yourself to read and write often. For reading make sure to read wisely. There will be so much to read but read your assignments to know which readings are most important while other readings will just be extra or optional. Read all required material and leave all the optional stuff for if you have time ( NEWS FLASH you won’t have much time) so read what’s important and move on. Writing is all you will do in grad school between discussions, assignments, facilitating, thesis statements and projects. Make sure to start all your writing ahead of time for example if an assignment is due Friday submit or at least have it written by Wednesday while everyone is running around discombobulated you will have your writing done. Also get familiar with the writing style your program desires APA or MLA either get the most recent book or add that website to your bookmarks/favorites so you can refer to it anytime.
- Topic: You should have your research/project/dissertation topics from the day 1 of grad school. You should have at least 3 ideas and speak with your research lead or dissertation chair to clarify your topic and in what direction your research should go.
- Get organized: So cliché but it’s the truth, get a planner or a notebook & calendar just dedicated to your courses and nothing else. You should know your current assignments and due dates for the next month at least. Submit you work early or on time. I suggest early because there will be a glitch in the computer if you wait until 11:58pm to submit your paper worth 100 points and that’s when your Wi-Fi decides it does not want to cooperate. Block out times to just read and or do assignments. I suggest 2 hour blocks for 2 days a week. You will be surprised what can get done in two hours and being focused.
- Resources: Use your campus resource. Guess where I learned I was not the best writer and by using the campus writing center. I learned I write like I speak and I tend to slip back and forth into present and past tense. Use the writing center, tutoring, disability services, help desk , library. Whatever resource you need use it, that’s what you have paid thousands of dollars for to be able to have access to all the resources your grad school has to offer so you can be successful
- Network: Be seen by everyone. I know this isn’t as easy as I am writing it but your professor, research chair, colleagues/classmates need to know who you are. Go to your professor or chairs office hours, staying in communication with these people don’t just show up when you are drowning in assignments or falling way behind. Go out to eat with your classmates because you may get placed in group/team projects with your classmates and the days you get behind or missed something in class those same classmates can will save your butt by keeping you informed or help you stay on top of assignments.
- Reality check: Now that you are in grad school or thinking about it. Let reality set in that grad school is like a part time job, it will be a lot of work, this is not high school you have to manage your own time and work. Your family and friend time may be limited and sometimes tested. Your free time will turn into school time. You cannot earn less than a B in grad school or you will be ask to leave aka expelled. You are paying for this more than likely out of your own pocket or on a time sensitive scholarship so you don’t have any time to waste. But with all that knowledge still
One of my best compliments I got in graduate school from a classmate was
“You make this look easy, your assignments are always turned in early, what’s your secret?”
This is because I wanted to keep my life and not let graduate school take over it. With the 6 tips I listed above I believe you will success fully complete your graduate studies and make it look easy as well.
Remember graduate school is supposed to be a great experience.
Stay organized. Make time for family. If your work allows complete a paper during your lunch. Keep in mind grad school won’t last forever just a small time in your life where you will need to make a few sacrafices that will pay off in the end.