Graduate school requires a large investment of time and money. Here are 7 steps to maximize your return on investment for both.
- Decide how you want to apply your degree – Getting a graduate degree for its own sake may be a noble effort, but knowing how you want to apply it can provide direction in terms of your research and your thesis paper.
- Participate – Engaging with your professors as well as others in the program can help with collaborative efforts while also building relationships. Participation will add value and enhance your experience while in program and may also help with referrals and recommendations after receiving your degree.
- Do more than show up – Graduate programs often take people by surprise, especially if they got their undergraduate degree without being challenged in their classes or by their instructors. Graduate school takes the academic experience to the next level, and success will require the dedication of time and effort for the duration of the program.
- Start thinking – Graduate work generally involves far more independent thought than undergrad work, due in large part to the focus of applying knowledge rather than gaining it. The best graduate programs will pull you out of the ivory tower environment and put you in a position of problem solving in the real world, which may require you to think from a different perspective.
- Improve your time management skills – Graduate programs take up a lot of time, but you still need to eat, socialize and have a little bit of a life. What must be minimized is wasted and unproductive time. Set up daily and weekly schedules to help prioritize time for studying, class work, research and life outside of the program.
- Stop procrastinating – While cracking open the books for last minute all-night study sessions may have worked as an undergrad, the preparation for exams, presentations and other aspects of graduate programs will likely be far more intense and rigorous. It make take a while to embrace the idea of studying for an exam that is 2 weeks away, but make sure your time management schedules have you starting work early on all program-related work.
- Plan for down time – Graduate programs can be intense, but being on the grind every waking hour will eventually take its toll. Be sure to include some down time in your daily/weekly regimen, including working out and getting enough sleep.
Graduate programs are typically time and money intensive. These steps can help to optimize the time spent in your program as well as your prospects after receiving your degree.
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