What New Grad Students Need to Know

What New Grad Students Need to Know
What New Grad Students Need to Know
Whether you’re heading back to school after a few years in the workforce or coming directly from undergrad, heading to graduate school can be a scary experience, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. While every school is different and ever program has different requirements, there are some general things that every grad student should know and be prepared to deal with as they enter their first year of graduate school. Here are just a few for the uninitiated grad student.

Be prepared to do a lot of reading. For almost every grad school program out there, loads of reading and research is the order of the day. The higher degree you’re looking to get, the more reading you’ll need to do. Before you start school, spend some time brushing up on your critical reading skills as you’ll be using them quite a bit in classes.

Work isn’t necessarily harder, but there’s more of it. Much of the work you do in grad school won’t be that different from what you tackled in undergrad, but there will likely be a whole lot more of it. If you’re used to writing 10 page papers, be prepared to start writing those that stretch twenty pages or more, while keeping up with reading and doing other work for classes as well.

You’ll need to be more independent than in undergrad. Grad school can be challenging for many students not because the work is impossibly hard but because independent thinking, research and work is much more important than in undergrad. You will be expected to motivate and push yourself, and while professors will offer support, at the end of the day your success depends entirely on your own determination.

Relationships with professors matter. Big time. In grad school it is essential that you get to know your professors both personally and professionally. They can help you create a better thesis, facilitate your research and provide an excellent support system. Additionally, you’ll need to work closely with a professor to create your thesis.

Always be thinking of your thesis. The culmination of your graduate study will be your thesis and since graduate programs generally only last two years, it’s important that you start considering what you want it to be from the start. Read magazines, books and journals in your field and ask professors to direct you towards things you might not have known about to get a head start.

Graduate school can be an exciting and invigorating experience that students young and old can and should find to be one of the best in their lives, even if it is full of challenges. When you know what to expect and learn all you can about your program of choice you have nothing to worry about except how you’re going to get all that work done!

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