Making the transition to graduate school can be very challenging. My experience with this is very recent as I finished a graduate program less than a year ago. To add to the difficulty for me on making the transition, I also did so while working full time, which allowed me to chose to go to school on-line, as on-line programs are becoming more popular for adults that have the desire to better themselves, move up in their current career, or change career paths.
My suggestions to make this transition a smooth one are as follows.
Create the best scenario for you
Completing a graduate program can be very challenging, so by initially creating the best possible scenario for you as a learner is critical in your success. A good item to keep in mind while deciding is there is almost twice as much work involved in graduate classes as there is in undergraduate classes and you are expected to find answers to questions on your own using sources outside of your required text. As one can imagine this is a very time consuming process and demands your complete attention. You’re best to be able to set aside time to do the research and papers in a quiet environment that is open twenty four hours.
Choose your path
You then need to decide how you would like to pursue the degree. With today’s technological advances you have a few different options. Some of the options are to go to school as a traditional student (day school), take night classes, go to an on-line university, or take a combination of all or any of these. While looking at the different ways you can achieve your goal it is good to be aware of the accreditation of the school. Too many times people want to take the fastest way to get to the degree and chose a place that does not carry the credentials to support a respected degree. One might think that if you choose one path, you might be limited in the number of institutions you can get your degree from, but in the past several years, traditional and state schools have seen an increase in the number of non-traditional students. For instance, the University of Minnesota has on-line graduate degrees that mirror the traditional degree programs they have on site.
Start off slow
Once you have committed to your desired path, I would suggest taking a low amount of courses for the first couple of semesters so that you can get used to the flow of the classes and your general ability to understand its content. This will allow you ample time to evaluate your time management skills and how it will affect the other aspects of your life.
Finally, Don’t Rush
I cannot stress enough that it will only harm your chances of success if don’t take the time to start off slow and evaluate your learning style and ability. Not every person learns the same way or at the same rate, and in graduate school, you have to have the ability to regurgitate the information during a test, and prove you understand the information enough to apply it to every day situations. Having a deeper understanding of the content and the ability to use it is the reasoning for a person to go to graduate school, so make sure you are giving yourself the best opportunity to be successful.