6 Tips for Surviving Graduate School

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Are you starting graduate school and worried about managing it all? Are you in grad school and wondering how on earth you’ll survive? Then this is the post for you!

Deciding to attend graduate school is an exciting time in your life. You’ve decided on a field that is going to be your career (at least for now) and are about to deep dive into all of the theories, ideas, and experiences surrounding it.

I know that when I started grad school, I had no idea about how to manage it all and feel like I was living. Depending on the program, it can be a lot of reading, paper writing, events, and internships. That is a lot to manage while trying to enjoy your life. All of these tips are things I wish I knew when I was starting and in school.

#1. Exercise

Until I started graduate school, I didn’t really exercise. I would walk places instead of driving if I could, but I didn’t lift weights or run or go to a spin class – nothing. I developed my exercise routine between my first and second years of grad school. One of my friends started going, invited me and then we started going together. Once the school year started, our schedules changed, and I kept going by myself. I would go 3-4 times a week, and on the nights, I went to spin class I had such mental clarity afterward, that I forgot about all of the upsetting things that occurred during the day. This is so helpful because you can focus on whatever you need to get done because you’ve cleared your mind. So whatever form of exercise works best for you, do it!

# 2. Socialize

This was my biggest mistake during my first year of grad school. I went into it thinking that grad school is only for school and not for socializing. However, this definitely made my first semester miserable. I didn’t try to make a lot of friends or do things with people. I spent game days at home doing work, instead of tailgating and socializing with my classmates. DO NOT DO THIS! You will feel lonely and reminisce about college and your college friends, which isn’t fun. I strongly encourage you to go to all the activities, force yourself to hang out and make friends and go explore wherever you go to school. While we all know that paper can’t write itself, you will thank yourself later if you do something fun for a bit.

#3. Network

We know that networking is one of the most important ways to get a job. While you’re in grad school there are tons of networking opportunities with alumni, organizations/companies and your peers. Take advantage of all of them! You may have a lot of work, but it is good to take a break and at least you’re being productive! This will pay off when you start applying to jobs, and you have relationships with people who could hire you.

#4. Stick to a Schedule

One of the reasons I wasn’t always stressed out in graduate school, was due to my schedule. I kept track of everything that needed to get done and I just put things on my calendar. I would book my exercise classes as soon as I could, so the time was blocked off. I also had a job for ¾ semesters, so I put that into my calendar. When you develop a schedule and healthy habits that work for you, you will figure out how to get all of your work done within that schedule. This is a key skill to have in and out of school.

#5. Maintain Healthy Habits

Graduate school can be a crazy time. You can feel crunched for time and have a mountain of work to do. However, it is so important to try to be as healthy as possible. Make sure to drink a lot of water, eat as balanced of a diet as possible and sleep! You can’t do your best in school if you do not take care of yourself.

#6. Create a Support System

I know that for me, without my friends and family, I wouldn’t have been able to survive grad school without their support. From being able to commiserate about the same assignments to having a place to go for a free meal, having a support system is important.

I know that deciding to attend graduate school and being in graduate school are big life experiences. I hope that this post helps you feel less overwhelmed and gives you some good ideas for how to set yourself up for success. Just know, that if you’re feeling stressed, your peers probably are too.

If you have any comments or questions, please share them

Happy Studying,