Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Strategies to Survive Graduate School

As you know, I finished graduate school a month ago!! It was one of the best moments of my life!! I won't be a full-time student again for the rest of my life...haha...

Looking back graduate school, there were many hardships. Sometimes I felt myself going to break from all those homework, meetings, tests, presentations....etc. On top of school work, I had to find time to look for jobs, get involved in extra curriculum, make side money, etc.

Even though graduate school sounds difficult, there are strategies to help you to survive. DO NOT WORRY:)

1. Use a Calendar and Alerts: Everyday is filled with classes, meetings, and other tasks. It is very easy to forget things and lose track, so Google Calendar was my LIFE SAVER in graduate school. I put ALL the deadlines and appointment times. This helped me be organized in the craziness.

2. Write Daily To Do List and Prioritize: There are ALWAYS a lot in our plate in graduate school. Professors give us countless projects and assigns every day. Effective strategy was require to get everything done. In order to stay on top of everything, make sure to have good plan and organize what is more important than other. Time management skill was more difficult to learn than text book knowledge.

3. Work Smart (Hard): One of the key concept I learned in graduate school is "Don't Work Hard, Work SMART". Since time is scarce resources in graduate school, it is important to be efficient. Try to focus while studying or doing any other task. Once the focus is lost and become less productive, STOP and do something else.

4. Ask Questions and Seek Help: There are a lot of good resources in school. Since we are pay TONS of money$$$$ to the school, it is better to USE IT. I reached out for tutors for homework, I consulted the librarian for research paper, I asked my advisors for tips and strategies for job hunting...etc. Professors were very kind to answer questions after classes as well.

5. Mediate/Exercise: I realized my mood get extremely negative when I am burned out with school work and anxiety for the future. I tried to mediate and exercise as much as possible out of my busy schedule. My mood changes instantly after that. So use just 10 minutes once in several days to mediate. Try to exercise for just 30 minutes a day would be even more helpful.

6. Encourage Yourself and Your Classmates: It is important to be positive no matter what happens. I kept telling myself that "you are going great, and everything is going to be OK." Remember, you are not the only one going through this hardship. Your classmates are feeling it with you, so give them the power. I promise your encouragement means a lot to them.

7. Take Power Naps Here and There: Sleep is luxury in graduate school. Not a day in graduate school that I did not feel tired. I often passed out before I can finish all the task for that day. During those time power naps were helpful. Quick 20-minute nap can refresh my brain significantly.

8. Have Fun Once a While: Finding time to have fun is challenging; however, I strongly believe no matter busy you are, you can still "make" some fun time. Best fun idea for busy graduate students is "quick celebration after a presentation/test/any accomplishments." Every time I finished a milestone, I invite a few friends to get a quick drink, dessert, or hike. It is good to treat yourself once a while.
Although, graduate school was tense, but in the end it PAID OFF!!