Surviving Grad School Tips

Surviving Grad School – Tips from 6 Months In

Happy Friday!

I have been remiss in posting for the past week, but I promise it is for good reasons. After Adobe Summit in Las Vegas there was an Accounting midterm, Easter, my dad’s birthday, several client projects, and attempting to maintain a healthy level of sleep. I am not sure I succeeded on that last point, but I did try. To make up for my missing in action days, I thought I would share a few tips that have made my life easier in my first semesters of grad school. Six months in, I have gotten into my new routine and figured out what it takes to keep things in balance. I knew from the start that staying in balance was crucial to being successful and staying sane. Here are my 6 Month Tips for Grad School Success:

  1.  Build your study time into your schedule – Grad school is a lot of work. There are courses that are easier and those that are more difficult, but all require a certain number of hours per week to complete them. Get ahead of the stress of cramming by setting aside time specifically for studying. If you are taking an online class you may also want to set a specific “class time” that is dedicated to completing that week’s material. If you are someone who needs a schedule, setting aside this time ensures that extra activities or procrastination do not get in the way. If you are someone who manages their time well already, it simply serves as a way to identify what you need to get done. Perhaps it is an hour every night or a couple hours on a Saturday, but having that time scheduled will help keep you on track.
  2. Stay on top of readings and homework – This may seem like an obvious one, but especially when you are in a part time program and working full time, it can be easy to come home after a long day and push off homework.  If you spend the entire day in meetings or cranking away at a computer, it is tough to come home and read a chapter on Managerial Accounting, let alone complete practice problems. It is tempting to say you’ll do it later, but once you start down the slippery slope of postponing homework, you leave yourself open to a larger pile than you are ready to handle. Not only could you run out of time, but the sheer amount of work can feel overwhelming, particularly if you encounter a topic that is more difficult for you to master. Stick to the schedule you created for yourself, even when it’s tough. If there are longer or multiple chapters, breaking that week’s work into two sessions can ease the stress of studying and be more effective for learning.
  3. Get to know your advisors and professors – These are the people that know the program and the program requirements best, use them. Advisors will guide you in choosing classes, finding your major, and even help with networking. Professors too, can help you decide what path is best for your goals. Many also have the real world experience that brings insights into the difference between theory in academia and the real world. While many grad students will also have real world experience, many have not reached the same levels or degrees of experience as the professors. Connecting with your professors also allows them to get to know you better which is valuable both in the classroom and in the event that you need a recommendation.
  4. Get enough sleep – I have not been the most successful with this tip, despite my best efforts. For one reason or another, there have been several stretches where my required amount of sleep was not met. From experience I can say not sleeping well has an impact on not only your academic success, but your emotional state, stress level, and overall wellbeing. School becomes a whole lot harder when you are running on no sleep. Trying to complete classes and work full time on little sleep? That is even less appealing. Know your limits, know when to take breaks, and remember that burning out while trying to complete your degree is counterproductive to achieving the degree.
  5. Make time for relaxing – With that in mind, my final tip is to make sure that you make time for you once in a while. I know it’s hard, especially when I’m telling you to schedule studying and stay on top of homework, but having some time to yourself to relax and regroup is important. Take time to workout, veg out, play video games, whatever it is you do to unwind. School and work will be there in an hour. You are a better student/employee/friend/family member when you are healthy and happy.

Bonus Tip: Drink wine, because why not? 😉


Enjoy your weekend!





Friday Highlights:

Sleep: 6 hours (plus a 5:45am wake up courtesy of my dog)

Work: 7 hours

Study: Day off

Workout: 30 minute treadmill workout plus Blogilates Perfect 10 Abs

Friday Plans: Mexican food!





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