How to be Successful in Graduate School

Graduate school is a huge commitment involving a substantial sacrifice in terms of money, time and one’s relationships and all other aspects of their life. The decision is an entirely individual one and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. For those who decide to take this huge step, life will be altered drastically for the entire time during which one is pursuing the graduate degree. Many people who are considering whether or not to pursue a graduate degree mistakenly think that being successful academically is the essence of a successful graduate school experience, but that’s not the case at all.

Here is some advice, some suggestions and tips as to things one can do to ensure that the graduate school experience will be a successful one in every way.

*Put your graduate school work first –

Graduate work is considerably different than undergraduate work. Everything you will do in your graduate school career is essential, and nothing can be left undone or postponed. Knowing that this is what is necessary and preparing oneself to deal with this reality will make the transition from undergraduate school to graduate school far easier.

*Manage time efficiently –

Managing time efficiently is crucial to one’s success in graduate school. Proper time management will make it possible to spend time with family and friends and socialize or participate in other activities. That being said, it is also important to manage one’s study time efficiently. Professors are not going to be tolerant of graduate students who don’t get their work done on time or whose work is less than first rate.

Proper time management is crucial for a graduate student because assignments are considerably more time consuming and involved than those that one did as an undergraduate. The massive work load that graduate students can typically expect to have to tackle cannot be sloughed off until the last minute. Parceling work out into small but manageable pieces will make the work easier and will ensure that you understand and retain everything you read. Doing this with important research papers will ensure that the paper is better researched, well written and scrupulously documented.

*There is more to graduate school than studying –

Sometimes it is hard for graduate students to remember that there is more to graduate school than studying. Many graduate students also work while pursuing their graduate degree. Financial aid may ease some of the financial burden of graduate school, and sometimes that means working as a teaching assistant or as a research assistant. These positions can be very time consuming and can be extraordinarily frustrating. Don’t allow the emotional considerations to get in the way of accepting a job that will add significantly to your resume after you obtain that advanced degree.

*Take time for yourself –

Be sure to allow yourself to have some time alone. It doesn’t matter what you do during that time. It can be time spent working out, reading something for fun, relaxing by watching television or anything else that one might enjoy. Insufficient time away from school work can lead to burn out, and burn out only leads to unproductive and unsuccessful experiences.

*Be prepared to invest much more of yourself in your work –

The academic work of a graduate student is far more demanding than anything one will have experienced as an undergraduate. When it comes to writing, professors will not be tolerant of shoddy sources, of work that isn’t well researched, substantiated and well written. Informal writing is never acceptable in graduate school, and anyone who isn’t willing to produce formal, scholarly and thought provoking research might want to reconsider whether or not they should really be pursuing a graduate degree.

Graduate student programs are typically designed to launch people into highly specialized professional careers. Receiving a graduate degree is never a guarantee that one will be offered any desired job. The harder one works, the more one strives to stand out above the other students in the program and to produce the best work possible, the more likely it is that their degree will result in the desired job, residency, internship or other experience.