Surviving Grad School: 5 Helpful Hints

Being in grad school is a major accomplishment, but it’s also a huge responsibility. You have harder classes, more reading and writing, more research, and you usually have to balance all of this with your personal life or your job.

Graduating from grad school will be a great personal accomplishment and a wonderful achievement to add to your resume. Instead of panicking about how you’re going to make it work, use the following five helpful hints for surviving graduate school.

grad school tips

1. Use a calendar.

You are going to have a lot of work, and if you don’t have a calendar, chances are you’re going to overbook yourself or forget something important. If you have a smartphone or tablet, download a calendar app like Sunrise Calendar. This way, you’ll be able to look at and update your calendar no matter where you are.

On your calendar, be sure to write down due dates for assignments; dates, times and locations of exams; work schedule; personal schedules; and anything else you may have to do. This way, you will always know how your day, week or even month are going to be, and you can start creating your plan of attack way in advance.

2. Invest in Dropbox.

Dropbox will be a great way to help you survive grad school. Dropbox allows you to store and share files, and everything you save to Dropbox is stored on the cloud. This means that no matter where you are—school, home, or the office—you can access everything you need. Be sure to save your homework assignments, syllabi and any other important documents in Dropbox so that you can access them no matter where you are. This way, you don’t have to worry about leaving that research paper at home. If you do, you can still access it while at school.

3. Get extra help.

If you are struggling with your classes, get some extra help. Join a study group, hire a tutor, or even reach out to your professor for some extra help. There are plenty of ways that you can get back on track, but it will require time and effort.

4. Find down time to study.

Most grad students complain that they can’t find the time to study, which is why you need to utilize your down time wisely. If you take public transportation to or from work or school, use your travel time to study. If you have a break between classes, use that time to study. There is always going to be a few minutes every day you can dedicate to studying, so be sure to use your down time wisely.

5. Use an audio recorder.

Typing notes and papers is a drag, and it takes a great deal of time. When you try and type notes for class, you end up missing something the professor said or have a hard time deciphering your one long run-on sentence when it comes time to study. When you type research papers, you have a hard time putting your thoughts into words, citing all your sources, and creating a well thought out paper.

If you use an audio recorder, you can put these issues to rest. First, opt to record your professor’s lectures in class. This way, when it comes time to study or complete assignments, you’ll have the entire lecture at your disposal. Instead of typing out that research paper, use an audio recorder to speak it. This will allow you to jot down that great opening paragraph that you thought of while on the bus.

The other reason that an audio recorder will help you is because you can have your audio notes transcribed. There are plenty of professional transcription services out there that will provide you with a quick and inexpensive transcription of your academic research materials or lectures. Because of this, you’ll have a hard copy of your lectures or an already written copy of your research paper that you may just need to edit slightly. This will save you a significant amount of time and be a great resource.

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Guest Author: Amber Potts is a freelance writer and a perpetual student of higher education. Amber shares her knowledge and training through a variety of mediums including article writing.