“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.” -Joyce Brothers
It is no secret that grad school can present many challenges. It may seem like the logical next step after undergrad for some, but for many, it is a totally different ballgame.
Getting a graduate degree requires a lot of persistence and patience
From developing your time management skills to learning how to navigate your personal life as a young adult, things can become very tricky in grad school.
Aside from learning how to manage your time, there are a lot of skills outside of class that is worth developing as well.
The following blog post delves into the tools and techniques that grad students should consider before starting their graduate program. And if you are a current graduate student then this article could help the process become a lot smoother.
Keep reading to find out our most insightful tips for grad school.
related blog posts
What Are Some Insightful Graduate school tips?
1. You are not the only one that deals with imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome refers to the feeling someone gets when one does not believe in their self-worth. Whether you are in grad school or just secured your first corporate position, imposter syndrome can sneak up on all of us at various places in life.
The truth is this feeling is caused by a thought that you have about what is possible for you. You have the power at any time to change that feeling and replace it with thoughts that serve you.
Everyone is dealing with some type of battle they will never speak about
Also, it may appear that someone has it all figured out, especially in grad school, but we are all doing the best that we can. No one is 100% confident 100% of the time. There is no such thing as a perfect graduate student.
Try to understand that you wouldn't have gotten accepted if you were not cut out for grad school. And if you are planning on applying to grad school, your confidence in your ability to succeed will go a long way.
So, start developing it now.
2. Your confidence will come over time as you achieve your academic goals
Speaking of self-confidence, sometimes we gain the ability to believe in ourselves retrospectively. Meaning, when we look back and examine all of the difficulties we have overcome, we start to see a pattern. We discover that the ability to succeed was in us all along.
This is especially true in graduate school. You may not feel very confident when you first start, but once you look back after the first semester and see that you got through it, the pride in your own work will grow.
So, keep going. Developing self-confidence may take time in grad school, but it will come if you do not give up on your academic goals.
3. Personal growth is an important part of the academic experience
No one will tell you this when you first start your graduate program, but you have to work on becoming the best version of yourself if you want to get through grad school with minimum stress.
Graduate school can be a weird time as you are still trying to figure out life and prepare for a better future.
What better way to create a better future than to develop a better YOU for that future?
The process of personal growth gets you closer to understanding who you really are and what you want most out of life. There is no substitute for self-awareness.
If you want to predict future success, then you will have to plan for it. Start as soon as you can by reading personal growth books like The Mountain Is You, The Power of Positive Thinking, The Four Agreements, or The Success Principles.
You have so many great personal growth books to choose from!
There are many TED Talks or motivational videos on YouTube to help you on your journey of self-discovery as well. Les Brown At The Georgia Dome will forever be one of the most impactful motivational speeches on the internet.
"Knowledge is power. But knowledge about oneself is self-empowerment." -Joe Dispenza
4. It is OKAY to ask for help
Asking for help can seem intimidating while in graduate school. It seems like most of your peers have it all figured out, and you don't even know that someone is struggling until you actually talk with them and get them to be honest about their grad school experience.
It may seem like asking for help is a weak move, but in reality, pretending like you have all of the answers is actually a sign of weakness and insecurity.
Ask for help if you want to give yourself the best shot at succeeding in graduate school
When you ask for help it shows that you are intelligent enough to seek advice from someone who has gone through a similar situation.
No matter what career you choose in life after grad school, it is important to understand how to seek support from your colleagues.
Go to your peers when you are unsure of a concept. Ask your advisor for additional guidance if a particular task is unclear. Go to your professors if they mention something in class that didn't make sense.
5. Find a mentor who has achieved what you are trying to do
A single mentor can change the trajectory of your whole entire life! The gift of mentors is that they have the ability to see beyond your current limitations.
Often, we are not aware of what is truly possible for us because of our own experiences. We think that just because we haven't done it means it cannot be done, but that is furthest from the truth.
Students need mentors
Sometimes professors serve as a mentor for students, but often students will have to look outside of class to get the guidance that they need. Ideally, your mentor will want you to succeed in grad school and they can point you toward resources that can get you there fastest.
You may need to reach out to potential mentors and ask for their guidance but more people are willing to help you get ahead than you may think. Just ask.
6. There aren't enough hours in a day for you to read every article or book
When you first start grad school, you may think that your success is dependent upon whether or not you read every single class reading. Honestly, it is impossible to consume all the information that you are exposed to in graduate school.
Learn what you can and move on!
There has never been a single student in a grad program who was able to read every single article or book required for class and remember all of it. Do not stress yourself out with this.
You will succeed when you learn how to take what is necessary from each reading and apply it to class discussions and research. Your professors also understand this key tip as well.
7. Your research interest can and will change as you continue learning
Most grad schools require you to choose a research topic to complete a thesis or dissertation. Please understand that whatever you choose for your research topic isn't permanent.
During your degree program, you will be exposed to all sorts of information and you never know which article, book, or seminar will grab your attention.
Be open to your research evolving as you do
The only thing constant is change and your success depends on how well you adapt to these changes. As a student, you have a lot to learn. Learning becomes a full-time job!
Do not stop yourself from exploring different avenues of research.
Bonus Grad School TipS!!
Networking is essential
You have probably heard before that who you know is often more important than what you know. This statement rings true the higher up you climb the academic ladder.
One of the greatest tips we can share with you is centered around the importance of networking. Your professors are people just like you. Go to their office hours and get to know them. Ask them about opportunities within their labs.
No matter what career you choose in life, you have to understand how to effectively communicate with those around you if you want to advance both professionally and personally.
Your graduate degree is a tool
YOU are not your degree. Your grad school degree is something that you will use to get to where you want to be in life. Your education is for you!
Graduate school programs provide the perfect opportunity to learn something new about yourself and those around you.
When you understand this, it becomes easier to spend time getting the most out of your education.
Manage your time, make connections with other students in your program, start planning early for your career, and work diligently on improving your writing. Use these grad school tips and your success is inevitable.
What All Graduate Students Need To Know
Going to graduate school is a very important commitment. It is slightly different than undergraduate because there is more responsibility. Your research is your main focus and effectively communicating through your writing takes center stage.
If you are a full-time graduate student, then the pressure seems even more intense. You have to learn how to balance your professional well-being with relationships, friends, and family.
The key to being successful in graduate school is understanding that there is always room for improvement and that other students are your support, not your competition.
You got this!