Beginning a graduate program is an exciting next step in your personal and professional life. Whether you are looking to kickstart a career in academia or are pursuing your graduate degree in order to elevate your career, you will want to prepare accordingly and position yourself for success.
At Keiser University Graduate School, we are proud of the support that we provide our students. From the moment you begin your grad program through the completion of your degree requirements and beyond, you will be able to rely on your advisor, our faculty members and our extensive network of resources, allowing you to have the most rewarding and beneficial grad school experience.
18 Tips to Succeed in Graduate School
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondering how to succeed in graduate school, you will find that these tips provide you with actionable advice that will allow you to easily navigate this transition.
1. Know Program Requirements and Timeline
Timing is everything when it comes to beginning a grad program. It is important that you learn about the program requirements and timeline for the program you are considering, as this will help you determine if graduate school is a good fit for you at this time in your life. Several factors can influence your timeline, such as:
- In-person vs. online program
- Full-time vs. part-time program
- Master’s vs. doctoral program
2. Be Proactive
Once you have decided to pursue a graduate degree program, you will want to start proactively planning and preparing for this experience. This may involve adjusting your work hours, reallocating family and personal commitments or planning for childcare. By taking time in advance to coordinate the logistics, you will find that it’s much easier to adjust to life in the classroom again.
3. Participate in Group and Community Activities
Networking and fellowship are integral parts of any graduate program, as it’s important for you to develop a sense of connection with your peers. Many universities will plan group and community activities that are designed for new students to mix and mingle with one another, be it in person or online. Prioritize these events and consider attending them whenever possible. It will help you form a lasting bond with your university and the other classmates enrolled in your program, building a network for the rest of your life.
4. Lean on Your Faculty and Peers
The graduate school experience is vastly different from the world of undergraduate studies. Most students who are enrolled in a grad program are balancing more responsibilities and commitments, including families, full-time jobs and involvement in extracurricular activities. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s important to know that you can lean on faculty and peers within your program. All you have to do is reach out and ask for help, and they will be able to provide you with more information about resources that are available. Most importantly, they will be there to listen with empathy, offer advice and lend a helping hand.
5. Map Out Your Goals
Identifying both your short-term and long-term goals is critical to your success in any grad program. Early on in your program, you should work to map out your goals and create actionable steps that will allow you to reach each one. With these goals in place, you will have a consistent guide to rely on throughout your coursework.
6. Connect with a Faculty Mentor
One of the best ways to ensure your success in a grad program is to meet with a faculty mentor as soon as possible. A faculty mentor will serve as a consistent and reliable source of information, so it’s important that you schedule regular meetings with your advisor and identify pressing topics for each meeting. When you work to cultivate this relationship, you will find that a mentor can provide you with meaningful advice about your coursework, obtaining a work-life balance and pursuing new opportunities within your field. This is a valuable and beneficial relationship, both for you and the faculty member who assists you.
7. Practice and Develop Time Management Skills
Time management is critical during a grad program when you will often have the freedom and flexibility to design your own schedule and meet the established deadlines. You can improve your time management skills by creating daily to-do lists, weekly goals and monthly deadlines. At the beginning of each semester, evaluate your availability and allocate your time accordingly — and don’t forget to budget time for self-care, as well.
8. Maintain a Work-Life-School Balance
Balance is critical, or you will quickly begin to feel the effects of burnout. Grad school is a very important part of your life — but it’s not the only part. Even when you are faced with a week of paper deadlines, job duties and family commitments, you will want to make time to do something that you enjoy. This will allow you to feel more rested and prepared for the work that you must complete within your program.
9. Be Organized
Organization is critical, especially when you are balancing a full load of classes and possibly a job as well. You will want to maintain a calendar with all deadlines for school and add in any meetings or activities that come up. Try to keep your grad program materials in a designated area and separated by class. When you have a system in place, you will feel more in control of your responsibilities at any given moment.
10. Find a “Perfect” Study Spot
Having a designated study space will allow you to be in the right frame of mind when you are working on coursework, studying for exams or preparing for a presentation. The best study spot will vary from student to student, but you might want to consider carving out a space at home that is quiet, free from distraction and peaceful. If there is no place at home that is right for studying, you can head to the library on campus, a local coffee shop or even a nearby park.
11. Hone Your Writing Skills
The act of writing allows you to identify your passion, conduct thorough research, experience the peer-review process and insert your own personality into the final product. Writing is an art form. Utilize all the tools and resources available to you in order to hone your skills. Some resources may include:
- Graduate writing studios provide holistic writing consultations to hone your writing, reading, critical thinking, and research skills and teaches students how to write to learn, think critically, analyze resources, show evidence of learning, consider the audience, paraphrase, and much more.
- Utilize digital or campus-based library resources to conduct research for peer-reviewed and scholarly journal articles.
- Seek guidance from program faculty and advisors who are subject matter experts in the field and can be leveraged for guidance and mentorship.
When you are immersed in your grad program, you are surrounded by peers pursuing the same field and career as you. In addition, you are working closely with faculty members aligned with the industry. This is the perfect time to expand your professional network and connect with individuals who may be able to help you toward the next step in your career. Attend networking events whenever possible, sign up to participate on committees and go to conferences to connect with people in your program.
13. Find Quality, Relevant Internships
During your graduate program, you may be presented with an opportunity to complete a professional internship. For some programs, an internship is required, but even if it isn’t, you should consider taking on one of these short-term job assignments. Internships, whether paid or unpaid, offer invaluable professional experience that can provide you with insight into your field. Through an internship, you have a chance to develop the professional skills you need and network with individuals in your field. Many graduate students find their next job opportunity through their internship program.
14. Focus on Learning and Developing, Not Just Grades
Grades were likely all you thought about during your undergraduate program, as many students are faced with grade point requirements to earn their degrees. However, in a grad program, good grades are not necessarily the end-all-be-all. While you will be able to achieve a high grade-point average by working hard, staying focused and remaining organized, you should care more about the learning process than your grade. This is a time to soak up experiences, hone your study habits, develop new skills and forge connections with your peers.
15. Create an Annual Plan
An annual plan can provide you with an outline for everything you need and want to accomplish in a given year. Your annual plan may vary based on the grad program that you choose, but it should include:
- Courses required for your program
- Publishing goals
- Application deadlines for fellowship, grants and more
- Conference dates
- Presentation deadlines
- Committee meetings
16. Get Quality Sleep
When you are deep into your grad program, you may feel like sleep is the last thing that you have time for — but you need to make good sleep a top priority. You can improve your sleep habits by creating a bedtime routine, going to bed at a consistent time and reducing screen time at least an hour before you plan to go to sleep. By getting a full night of sleep, you will feel mentally and physically ready to balance the next day’s workload.
17. Ask Questions and Take Proper Notes
Now is not the time to be shy or to feel intimidated. Asking questions during your grad program is one of the best ways to expand your knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of the topic. Whether you are asking questions during class or in a meeting afterward, you should take quality notes and keep track of the responses that you receive. Not only will your notes come in handy when you need to reference them later, but the act of taking notes will help you commit the information to your long-term memory.
18. Stay Positive!
There are going to be tough days, and there are going to be overwhelming moments, but it’s important to try to remain positive and keep your mind focused on your long-term goals. If you ever need a pick-me-up, just reach out to one of your classmates or get in touch with your advisor. Your university community is there to support you and help you attain your goals.
Pursue Success at Keiser University
Are you ready to begin the next chapter of your life and enroll in a graduate program? Keiser University Graduate School offers the programs and support you need to reach your educational and professional goals. Our graduate programs include master’s, specialist, doctoral and certificate programs, with online options in a wide range of fields.
At Keiser University, we are committed to providing our students with a world-class educational experience. Our dedication to small class sizes and personalized instruction sets us apart from other leading universities. Request info today to find the right program for you.