The spring semester is over! I honestly cannot believe this semester went by so quickly. It feels like just yesterday I was accepted into my graduate program here at Eastern New Mexico University. For those of you who are in graduate school or looking to pursue a graduate degree, I wanted to share a few things I learned my first semester:
- Take some time to make new friends. If you are attending a graduate program on-campus or off-campus, I feel like this is important. There are several graduate degree programs here at Eastern (24 actually!), and in the graduate program I am in, there are about 30 other graduate students in my cohort (or group that was selected that semester). These are the people you will be with throughout your 2+ years of graduate school. It's nice to have a group you can connect with, study, go to dinner, etc. You need that type of support in graduate school, so dive in and make some friends!
- Learn as much as you can (yes, read the required readings and buy the textbooks). Honestly, this is for your own good! Do not try to just get by. The things you are learning in graduate school are vital to the success of your career, and in my case, vital to the success of my clients. Be the very best ___ you can be (nurse, speech pathologist, social worker, vocalist, etc.) Because if you aren't putting your full effort into your career and studies, then why are you pursuing it?
- Love what you do. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in my field of interest, but I don't think I fully appreciated the hard work it requires to get to where I want to be. Let me tell you—grad school isn't a breeze. It's challenging, time-consuming, and makes you doubt yourself and your passions at times. But, if you are determined and love what you do, it will be rewarding.
- Work smarter, not necessarily harder. Productivity and planning are key. Honestly, I procrastinated in my undergraduate career. I would stay up late (I do not study well past 10 p.m.) into the wee hours of the morning and study for that exam I had at 8 a.m. At that point, it was just me cramming information that I would forget after my exam the next day. This is not the way to do it. This semester I have learned to plan out my weeks more efficiently, work a little at a time on readings and reports and make time for myself. For example, if it were Monday and I knew I needed to read three chapters for one of my classes and take a quiz on Sunday, I would start Monday or Tuesday reading a little at a time (4-5 pages at a time a few times a day). I cannot tell you how miserable it is to wait until Saturday to try and finish three chapters of coursework that are about 30+ pages a chapter and take a quiz. Do not make yourself a miserable mess.
- Don't forget to live a little. Be serious about your work and get it done, but don't stress yourself out too much. Live a little and go on a day trip with a friend, go out to dinner or go to the movie. Don't take life too seriously; we only have one life to live!
I hope I was able to shed some light on things to be expected during graduate school. If you are just about to begin grad school, try using some of these tips from the very beginning. Create habits and sustain them. Be proud of your work and your passions!