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Five Tips to Help You Succeed in Grad School


Posted on June 21, 2016 by Delaware Valley University.

Graduate school is an incredible opportunity. Whether you’re changing occupations, taking the next step in your career or expanding your responsibilities at work, grad school can give you the skills you need to thrive professionally.

However, pursuing a graduate degree is an experience with different responsibilities, requirements and challenges than an undergrad degree. Grad school’s class schedule and workload takes some getting used to, but these five tips can help you get the most out of your program. 

1.      Embrace Autonomous, Independent Learning

Graduate school is less structured than college. With some guidance from advisors and professors along the way, students have the freedom to decide what and how they study during grad school. That means you’ll need to show initiative and think independently, especially when it comes to finding a thesis topic.

Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do. To be successful during grad school, take charge of your education from day one.

2.      Find Out How You Work Best

Maybe you prefer a quiet library, the buzz of a coffee shop or the activity of a campus lounge. Perhaps you’re more productive in the morning or get the most work done at night. 

Every student has a different work style. To keep up with grad school’s demands, it’s important to know how you work, where you’re most productive and when you do the best work. Understanding these traits is key to your productivity.

3.      Read Actively

Grad students have some hefty reading requirements. And when you have a long night in the library ahead, it’s easy to read from start to finish without processing or actively thinking about the text. Frankly, if that’s how you read, you’re wasting your time.

It’s vital that you read with a purpose, which involves analyzing the headers, bullet points, chapter headings and overall organization of a piece. Consider whether the piece supports your research. Look for information that surprises you, define unfamiliar terms and make notes in the columns. Think critically about the material and how it’s enhancing your education. 

4.      Practice Time Management Skills

Between class, coursework, internships and your dissertation, grad students are on a tight, demanding schedule. That means you have to allot enough time for each task to meet the demands of your program. 

Luckily, there are tons of tools out there, like Google Calendar or a good old-fashioned planner, to help you manage your time. There’s no right way to budget your time as long as you learn to do so effectively. 

5.      Network with Students and Faculty

Networking with your professors, advisors and fellow students can help you to explore careers and even land a job after graduation. Take advantage of any networking opportunities that come your way while pursuing your graduate degree.

Graduate school is challenging, but it’s also rewarding. If you’re continuing your education through a graduate program, follow these tips to make the most of this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity.