A-Z’s of Surviving Grad School

I am almost finished with Graduate School and I thought it would be fun to post the A-Z’s of surviving higher level education.

A – Ask: If you don’t know something, ask. Professors care and want you to understand what they are teaching. Be respectful about it, but they are there to help you learn a wealth of knowledge about your field. Most professors are happy to answer questions if it isn’t in the handbook!

B – Be Proactive: Be 20 steps ahead of everyone and think about what is coming up. Stay on top of it and don’t be behind. If you know that it’s going to be a rough week, get things done early. If there are issues, say something early to solve the problem. Professors will appreciate you!

C – Call Home Often: I don’t think I need to explain this one, but your mother will thank me! I FaceTime with my mother every weekend!

D – Don’t procrastinate: I feel like this is obvious, but it is important. I am terrible and guilty of this, but I always mean better. When I wait until the last minute to do things, I hate myself. Try and get things done early if you can so you aren’t stressing out later.

E – Explore: If you moved to a new city for Grad School, take the time to explore. You most likely won’t be in that city forever. I have explored different places in the St Louis Area that have opened my eyes to different types of people and cultures. I’ve crossed some things off my bucket list and I can say that I have made the most of my time here.

F – Food: This should be at the top of the priority list! Even this means being late to class because you need to go get $1 Jimmy Johns on Customer Appreciation Day! (This may have happened, but we weren’t late!)

G – Growth Mindset: You are in Grad School to grow and learn! You are not there to be a perfectionist and be the perfect student who gets 100% on every assignment. Be realistic and give yourself grace when needed. In the end, you WILL pass and get a Masters/Doctorates.

H – Happiness: Be happy and positive. It pays off. I’ve always been called sunny when I was younger and I try and continue to be sunny. Even on those days that I am pissed!

I – ID: Take full advantage of your school ID to get you discounts and whatever else. You will only be a student for so long. My Wash U ID gets me discounts at a hair salon I go to in the CWE as well as a free metro pass. There are perks to being a student.

J – Just Do It by Nike: Exercise often to break up your day. This helps me not get engulfed into school work and take care of myself. Some weeks are better than others. My goal is to get 10,000 steps on my fitbit 4 times a week and it is pretty doable.

K – Keep your GPA high from the start: It is very easy to have a rough semester and then have your GPA slip. Some job employers may want to see your transcript and will wonder why your GPA was lower one semester compared to another semester.

L – Let Loose: You work hard during the week, so let yourself have fun on the weekend. Whatever you think is fun, do it! For me, it is the outdoors, so anything outside is my fun! And occasionally a friend get together qualifies too. Don’t get engulfed into school land!

M – Make a Good First Impression: You have 30 seconds to make a good first impression. This often dictates what people think of you.

N – Nice: Be nice all the time to everybody. No matter how much you don’t like them. Everyone will like you and think highly of you.

O – Organized: Be organized at all times. You are responsible for the assignments and meetings. Planners and calendars are a good way to stay organized and keep track of everything as well as different binders. I am a very organized as this is the only way I can function.

P – Professionalism: What does this mean to you? Everyone you interact with on a daily basis is now a colleague and these people will be writing you letters of recommendations when you graduate. Treat Grad School like you are going to work. It’s not Undergrad!

Q – Quiet Time: Spend time for yourself and enjoy life: For me, I take my devices out in the evenings/mornings when I get ready to enjoy the day and get ready. Sometimes if I need a break in the middle of the day, I will turn my devices off and enjoy life in the moment.

R – Respect: If you give respect, they will give it back to you. You are in a professional environment, so you should respect everyone’s knowledge and opinions even if they don’t allign with your own. It’s part of professionalism.

S – Stress: It is normal to stress out about classes and to have those moments where it seems too much. The important thing is to manage it. Take time away from school and do personal things to release that stress. I was terrible at this last semester and am so guilty of this. One of my goals for this semester is to set boundaries of school/personal life so I am not stressed out all the time like I was last semester.

T – Teachers/Professors: They are there to help you and support you. Let them do that so you can succeed. They are a resource and can give you advice. Meet with them often if you have questions or conerns. They care!

U – Unplug: Try and find a time everyday to unplug from technology. Yes, this is hard to do when you are thinking about all assignments and everything, but it is worth it. I haven’t been successful in doing this during the semester, but I’ve been very successful in when I am home for the holidays. I often will only have my phone on me during certain times of the day and I created limits on when I check personal e-mails. As a general rule, I don’t check school e-mail when I am home, so I can spend that quality time with dear family and friends. My next goal is to do that on weekends during the semester.

V – Vent: Find a friend or family member that you trust that you can vent to. Grad school is stressful and challenging and sometimes you just need to let it all out. Just be mindful of what you say and who you say it to.

W – Work: Try and get a part-time job or something that allows you to earn a little extra cash. For me, this is also the time of day that I can step away from my school responsibilities and focus on something else. Plus, playing with a child is fun and rewarding. Just know your limits, set boundaries on how much you can work and find something that has some flexibility.

X-tra Credit – Do I really need to explain myself? If a professor gives you an extra credit opportunity, do it. I had one professor who allowed this and if really helped my grade.

Y – Yes: Take advantage of opportunities at your university. For me, I have gone to some seminars and things that have further my education. A school for the deaf in my area had a professional development day on depression in children, so my colleagues and I went to it to learn more about it. There was also a cochlear implant seminar last spring that some of my colleagues went to that they said was really interesting.

Z – ZZZZ aka Sleep: Anybody above the age of 14 is terrible at this! Let’s admit it! Four hours of sleep a night is just not going to cut it. It doesn’t matter if you are studying for a test; you will probably do just as good because you didn’t get enough sleep. I MUST get 8-9 hours a night to be functional. This means going to bed between 9-10 and getting up at 6ish. It doesn’t always happen, but sleep is one of my priorities and it should be yours.

 Happy Monday!



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