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Keys for Success in Grad School

Written by Tabish Alam

Maybe you finished your undergrad degree like a champ, or maybe you barely squeaked through. But now you’re facing grad school, and it’s a whole new ball game. This isn’t just a series of courses you have to take to get to the fun stuff; this is the foundation of your career.

1. Upgrade your study skills

Try reading What Smart Students Know, Great information on how to take better notes, how to “practice” for tests rather than simply study carefully the material, and ultimately how to get better grades—maybe not with less effort, but with less wasted effort.

2. Network

Grad school can open a lot of doors. You can often join professional associations at reduced prices. You can publish articles or even present at professional conferences. You can do informational interviews with professionals in your field to learn how best to prepare yourself. All of these activities can expand your professional horizons and make the job search much easier.

3. Learn how to be (politely) assertive

Though the word “assertive” often gets a bad rap, it’s hard to imagine a full life without this quality. Contrary to popular opinion, assertiveness is not the same as aggression—in fact, notice how often these two are opposites. Assertiveness means having the utmost respect for the other party, while also including yourself in the equation. Only those who are assertive can be kind (instead of merely “nice”) and can offer a compliment or say “Thank you.”

4. Get your priorities straight

If we put first things first, “second things” will follow—and follow more abundantly than if we had tended to them first. C.S. Lewis writes about this. “Aim at heaven,” he says, “and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth, and you get neither.” In grad school, this means focusing time and energy on the activities that produce the greatest results.

5. Celebrate

Whenever you finish an important project or reach a crucial milestone, it’s important to take time to acknowledge it before moving on to the next task. Even if it’s only a small celebration, like grabbing a snack, watching a few YouTube videos, etc. Whatever your celebration of choice, make sure you take in the moment and appreciate each accomplishment. While you’re at it, don’t forget to live in the moment—even during big deadlines and projects. It can be easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees, so make sure to take a step back and appreciate the little things every once in a while. It’ll make your time in school more bearable—and help you keep a healthy perspective when entering the working world.

 

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Thank you! Signing off

-Team Social Mela

About the author

Tabish Alam