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Surviving Graduate School | My Experience

graduate school

After finishing my four years of college, obtaining a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication and English, I thought it’d be a few years before I was back in school, but things didn’t turn out that way. I graduated in May 2016 and started graduate school September 2017. This time, I am pursuing a Masters in Media Studies. Today, I will share some of my tips to surviving graduate school, how I balance school and blogging, and what my overall experience has been like.

Time Management

As you’ve probably heard a million times, time management seems to be the secret to everything, but how does one excel time management? Unfortunately, every person is different. What works for me, might not work for you, so I will be sharing different techniques that you can try out. I have only taken a couple of classes each term (this is how the program is laid out), and I do my best to do all my work during the week. I do my best to get my weekends free. You don’t want to be doing homework on the weekends.

To-Do Lists

I can’t live without a planner. Even when I wasn’t in school and had a job that didn’t require for me to have a planner, I had a planner. There is a strange satisfaction in crossing things off lists. Personally, I like using a standard planner to keep track of when things are due, and also, write down what I want to do each day. The planners I like using are from ban.do. Not only are they beautiful, but their layout really works for me. Unlike some planners, these don’t have time divisions. I suck at waking up early, I don’t always get out of bed at the same time, so assigning time slots to my to-do list doesn’t work for me. Are you a person who lives on a schedule? Then try one of these,

This will also be great if you’re working at the same time you go to school. It will help you keep track of your schedule and when your major assignments are due. Since I don’t currently work, my side-“job” is this blog. I post three times a week and I am constantly promoting my posts on social media. I know it’s hard to believe, but this is all quite time-consuming so if I want to succeed in this, I need to make sure I am making the most out of my time.

Calendars

If you’re not one who likes lists, you might benefit more from a calendar. Just a simple calendar where you can write when major events/assignments are taking place. This way it will help you put it into perspective and you’ll know when you should start working on that paper due in three weeks. Paper Source has some beautiful options! Whenever I use this method, I find that using post-its helps me add more detail to each event/assignment without getting everything messy. Once the assignment has been turned in, you can remove the post-it and it will clear out the view.

App

It wouldn’t be a 2018 post if I didn’t mention some good apps that can help you out with time management. There’s an app for everything. I find that setting events on my iPhone calendar is enough for me, but some people like having everything on their phones. The MyLifeOrganized is a great option! You can pretty much do everything with this app. There is some added functionality that you can get by getting the *pro* version of it. Depending on your needs, I would recommend it!

Take Advantage of Graduate Resources

From my experience in graduate school, we are treated very differently than undergraduate students. Since you will be pretty restricted to your program, you’re not really told about everything that goes on campus. You’re kind of left to figure it on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask. There are people who were you and they have all the answers now. Here are some things you might want to find at your school,

  • Writing Center
  • Libraries (bigger schools can have more than one) – The big one at my school has great book scanners so if you ever need to write a paper, you can scan books and not have to carry them around
  • Printing Services – If you’re a GTF (or a graduate employee) chances are, you get free printing. The GTFF (the union for graduate student workers) also offers free printing services if you’re a full member. Ask what the benefits are at your school.
  • Your Advisor – this is perhaps the one we forget the most. There has been someone assigned to us. They are supposed to help us and assist us. If you and your advisor don’t have similar interest, or you just don’t click, meet with other faculty members.

You’re Not Alone

When you’re a graduate student, there are a lot less “social” activities organized for you. If you’re shy, like me, you might find it hard to connect and interact with your peers. One of the benefits is that usually, graduate programs don’t have a lot of people (again, this may vary by school), but since you see the same people over and over again, it’ll be easier to get more comfortable around them. If you’re struggling with a class, there might be someone in your class who is struggling too. Struggle is a great thing to bond over. You can also find someone who is not struggling and who would be willing to help you out. Just remember that there are people pursuing the same degree as you are, who may have more experience, and who have similar interests as you (you are studying the same thing).

These tips work for any level of education you’re in! Or if you’re struggling balancing work and life, these will work as well. Have you thought about going back to school? Did you enjoy school? Let me know in the comments below! I would love to do more posts like these, so if there’s anything you’re curious about, would want to know more about, comment!

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Holaa! My name is Maria, twenty-three, Colombian in Oregon, pursuing my Masters degree in Media Studies and using makeup as a procrastination tool. Join me as I learn more about makeup and share my thoughts with you!

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