How to Survive Grad School

In previous years, the most awarded undergraduate degrees were in the areas of communication, journalism, visual and performing arts, engineering, biological and biomedical sciences, psychology, social sciences and history, health sciences, and business. Students pursue these fields to gain access to more and better career opportunities.

In the year 2018 saw a spike in the number of graduate enrollees. With a graduate degree, future professionals can choose to specialize in an area of study that captures their interest. They engage primarily in research and are poised to contribute to the field.

While the numbers are optimistic, graduate students take on a heavy academic load, and many of them keep a full-time job while at it; hence, the struggle. Motivation can only do so much, and it all will start to feel like an obligation in no time.

A Harvard study revealed that graduate students are three times more prone to depression and other mental health issues. Besides their underlying psychological conditions, an inefficient education system, and the lack of support from or communication with professors cause graduate students to drop out. Not to mention the pressure for students to find and keep the type of career that measures up to the effort they put in graduate studies.

To avoid these pitfalls, graduate students must be well prepared. They need to be armed with the right tools, mindset, and knowledge to see through to their graduate degree completion.

Here are some of the most proven tips to make it in graduate school. Explore your options using these page jumps!

But first, research.
Keep a healthy work-study-life balance.
Get support.
Create a budget.
Don’t just survive; thrive.
Do not get too overwhelmed.
Utilize every resource you have.
Focus on the idea or solution.
Take an active part in the community.
Find a good mentor.


But first, research.

Clearly defined goals as to your job outlook, earning potential, and long-term career prospects will take you back to what your graduate study is all about: a lot of writing and researching. Specialize in the fields of research that address your learning preferences and interests. To excel in your academics, adhere to standards, and examine published studies. Carefully strategize to be good at what you do.


Keep a healthy work-study-life balance.

Ask yourself: can I commit to graduate study without sacrificing life outside school or work?

Graduate study demands A LOT from you. Studying, researching, and writing eventually become the new normal for agraduate student. With full-time work on the side, you may find yourself squeezing in academic tasks during the weekend, on holidays, or after-work hours. However, this kind of lifestyle is not sustainable. It can cause burnout and esven develop strained relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.


Get support.

The lack of support from your friends and family can be damaging. While you would want to put family, financial obligations, and graduate study in the same priority level, one of these will have to take a back seat. Get your family involved in the decision-making process. Allow them to see your goals (and your choice to enroll in graduate school) from your perspective. Let your family know of your circumstances and explain what is expected of you as a graduate student.  Emphasize that ultimately, you can’t do it without their support.


Create a budget.

Financial unpreparedness takes you to the losing end. Budget planning before your enrollment can help you avoid unwanted expenses. Make sure you have sustainable savings to meet family obligations even with your graduate degree the horizon. Is your university too far from where you live? To save on travel expenses, consider an accredited online graduate school. You’ll enjoy the convenience without compromising the quality of graduate education you acquire.

Opting for government-sponsored scholarships, working for your graduate institution, or having employers pay for your graduate program are some of the ways to ease the financial burden. Some teacher assistantships can help you accumulate credits, which means fewer classes to attend and lower payments to make.


Don’t just survive; thrive.

Get enough exercise, maintain proper nutrition, and get lots of sleep. Only when you make the right plans will you be able to make these a part of your routine. Deadlines can be quite a challenge to meet, especially when they overlap with your other obligations, but you can work around them! Keep a strict schedule to make time for school, work, socializing, family, and yourself. Communicate with classmates and faculty members regularly to help you ease the feeling of isolation that comes with keeping a hectic schedule.


Do not get too overwhelmed.

Are your course requirements becoming too much to handle? Take a step back and breathe deep. It is normal to be overwhelmed by the truckload of academic tasks; it’s graduate school, after all!

Redirect your negative thoughts to positive things that help you boost your confidence. Avoid all forms of distraction, such as social media, on meet-these-deadlines day. Create a smooth workflow to meet your goals without overlapping your schedules. Take small but sure steps toward accomplishing your tasks on a daily and weekly basis, as opposed to getting all those papers done all at once.


Utilize every resource you have.

Graduate school is often the lonely road less taken, but you’re not all alone in it! Share ideas with other students, talk about your challenges with them and perhaps, find solutions together. If you’re employed, ask your colleagues and supervisors for help in data gathering for your graduate thesis. Talk to your professors if you need academic guidance, direction, or advice.


Focus on the idea or solution.

Just because you’re in graduate school doesn’t mean you love everything about it. The graduate thesis, for one, involves an arduous process nobody can be truly prepared for! Conducting mini-experiments, checking out relevant research publications, and asking for your mentor’s help can all make a difference in finding the answers. Look for opportunities to solve them, and focus on the end goal of completing your graduate thesis.


Find a good mentor.

A knowledgeable and supportive mentor can make a difference in your pursuit of a graduate degree. Find a trustworthy advisor who will provide you with the right insights, direction, and motivation to keep going despite the odds!


Take an active part in the community.

Getting involved in teaching opportunities (assistantships), research, and other extracurricular activities integrate your academic studies in real-life situations. This, in turn, can be helpful in writing, evaluating, recalibrating, revising your dissertation or graduate thesis. Your active involvement in these activities is also a plus in your credentials.

8 Ways to Be Productive in Grad School

Masters and doctorate (Ph.D.) students, also known as graduate students, focus on both the creation and conscientious conduct of substantial research in study programs. They work toward reaching their goals in areas of study that help people understand the human environment and navigate its uniqueness, complexities, and challenges.

In seeking to contribute to their field, graduate students also broaden their understanding and knowledge. As such, they are highly competent professionals whom society expects to hold remarkable credentials and exhibit expertise. Businesses and organizations across all industries consider them assets in the workplace. Similarly, graduate students also excel in setting up their independent practice.

Here’s our feature on how you can be productive as a grad student:

Graduate School Statistics
Skills for Graduate Study
How to be Productive in Graduate School
* Determine your niche early on.
* Practice time management.
* Set up a routine that works.
* Look to your mentors and accountability partners.
* Get published.
* Join professional groups and organizations.
** Repeat: Health first.
** Balance your lifestyle and academics.


Graduate School Statistics

Who are America’s graduate students? A 2017 study revealed that female students comprised 59% or 1.8 million of the total graduate school enrollment and 41% or 1.2 million male students. Graduate school enrollment rates—including in Master’s and PhDs, and specialized graduate programs—is expected to grow by 3% between 2017 and 2028, with up to 3.1 million enrollees.


Skills for Graduate Study

Graduate school is never easy! It takes dedication and commitment, and demands a lot from students! If you’re considering graduate study, assess whether or not you’ve got what it takes:

  • Good academic standing (to qualify for graduate study)
  • Commitment to comprehensive research
  • Optimism and a keen interest in learning
  • Curiosity and open-mindedness
  • Excellent work ethics
  • Honesty in your work
  • Patience and perseverance
  • Reliability and maturity
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Willingness to work with instruments and equipment
  • Ability to organize tasks or co-supervise others
  • Ability to work independently and with others

How to be Productive in Graduate School

Determine your niche early on.

Decide on your specialized field or niche in graduate school. During the first year, gain as much experience as you can on research and writing.  Keep up with the relevant and latest trends in your specialization. As you move closer to the completion of your graduate study, you’ll become increasingly laser-focused on this niche.

Practice time management.

At the undergraduate level, one may have thought that time management is quite tricky. Graduate school is next-level complex! You need to write, research, and study most of the time, keep a job (to keep you financially afloat) and go through the stages of early adulthood all at the same time.

A fundamental rule in graduate school is time management. Study smart, for one. If you are taking an aptitude test, skimming your notes might work. Are you sitting for a written exam? Treat your notes like living documents, and spend more time studying.

Set up a routine that works.

Whether you’re doing basic research or writing your thesis, make it a habit to record the number of words you used, and the time spent on these tasks. You can set a word count target, and give yourself a short break or call it a day as soon as you reach this goal. You can choose to take it a step further every time you feel like you can do more.

Trying more routines to help you achieve your academic writing goals for the rest of the calendar year won’t hurt. Map out the steps you need to make it to that goal and set your completion timeline.

A seven-year plan, for one, may sound complicated, but it’s a surefire way to cope with the unexpected circumstances in your graduate school journey.

Look to your mentors and accountability partners.

Graduate students must focus on regular accountability. Talk to someone regarding your plans and schedule a virtual or personal meeting with an accountability partner to see how things are going. Applications like Grid Diary will assist you in making this assessment.

Look for committed mentors or coaches who are genuinely after your success. Mentors should be able to help you become accountable, plan what needs to be done, develop strategies, and resolve issues. They can provide practical advice on your project and boost your confidence.

Get published.

By writing and publishing articles frequently, graduate students make themselves stand out in the job market. Being a published author of academic journals is always a plus to your credentials.

Write daily! Research indicates that if graduate students commit at least 30 minutes a day to writing, they make steady progress towards a writing target and finish the project quickly. Keep a type of “Ph.D. journal” to help you conceptualize an explore ideas. Record your achievements, big and small, as well as reminders for your areas for improvement. This journal should gets you back on track when you feel like you’ve reached a dead-end.

Journal writing is a bit more personal, so you can freely use your creativity in it.

Join professional groups and organizations.

Spend quality time with colleagues, friends, and family. It is a must for your mental, emotional, and physical health. In school, communicate with your fellow graduate students. Be part of a system of support and social network that will have you sharing insights or giving and receiving opinions.

Joining an organization in your field of graduate study widens your professional network. These networks can send you to academic conferences, or keep you in exclusive groups that help you in your academic writing. You can constantly get in touch with them online or better yet, set up a regular time to meet with them!

Beyond boosting productivity in your academic writing and graduate school work, these tips help you thrive in graduate school:

Repeat: Health first.

The importance of sleep, exercise, nutrition cannot be overstated! These three can significantly and positively impact your health in the long run. Do you enjoy ice skating, rollerskating, dancing, playing video games, or hiking? Take the time out to do what will relax you and take your mind off the pressure of being in graduate school.

For graduate students, pulling an all-nighter to squeeze in more time for studying isn’t uncommon. Remember, however, that lack of sleep may cause all types of health problems, just like inadequate exercise and food can be damaging to your health. Take occasional naps during study breaks to regain your strength.

Balance your lifestyle and academics.

Graduate students deal with a plethora of obligations beyond graduate school. It can be extremely difficult to meet them all while engaging in other rewarding areas of living! Achieving this balance may well be one of the biggest challenges!

Acknowledging the different hats you wear as a student, an employee, a family member, or a friend is crucial to find that balance. Set your priorities right and avoid conflicting school, work, or family schedules.

10 Things Every Female Grad Student Needs

Earning your postgraduate degree opens doors for a more challenging and high-paying career in the future. The latest research says it all. In 2017, female students made up the majority of post-baccalaureate enrollees. As of 2015, women held 60% of baccalaureate degrees and 46% of doctoral degrees, according to the National Science Foundation.

As a woman, you can step up your game by seeking out things that will help you keep on track. You have come a long way since graduating from college, but gone are days of partying late or skipping classes. You are now a graduate student. In this day and age, deciding to pursue education higher than your bachelor’s degree would require planning, but no one can tell you how to live your life except for yourself.

Besides tons of flashcards, notebooks, pens, and other school supplies, you have to prepare for other grad school necessities. Graduate school life is slightly different than in college and high school years. Expectations and goals are all greater.

Other than the overwhelming tasks and deadlines, some of the biggest challenges you will encounter are time management, procrastination, lack of support, and even stress from uncertainty and the unknown. As you step forward into the next stage of your life, manage and pace yourself well to reach the finish line.

It won’t hurt to get a few tips and read a guide either to help you overcome the challenges.

But first things first, the stuff every female grad student can’t be without! Check out the top 10 on our list—including the brands and products we believe will get you through in grad school:

Laptop
Backpack
Smartwatch
Comfortable Shoes
Concealer
All-in-one Printer
Pen-sized Scanner
Portable Hard Drive
Book Rentals
Self-Care Essentials and Practices


Laptop

Laptops have become an essential tool for completing a graduate program. Ladies will need a sleek, slim, and stylish laptop to help them perform multitasking and finish term papers efficiently. However, it is crucial to look for portability, durability, and performance as a laptop is a major investment. The Acer Swift 7 is the world’s thinnest laptop with only 9.95 mm chassis and weighs 890 grams, so you can carry it in your bag all day along with other school supplies without breaking your back. Not only is it incredibly compact, but it also features a 92% screen-to-body zero-frame display for stunning visuals and presentations. It is known for its efficient mobile performance with the built-in 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor2 for excellent multitasking and multimedia tasks.

Female Grad 2

This valuable gadget for every female graduate student is thin and light but sports a full-size, comfortable keyboard with an integrated fingerprint power button and a battery life of 12 hours for students on-the-go. It impresses even more with its Nano Sim slot for a 4g-LTE connectivity/ eSim technology so you can send essential emails and projects anytime, anywhere. In a world of overwhelming laptop choices, Acer Swift 7 is one of the best for grad school women.


Backpack

More often than not, graduate students will find themselves running to and from classes. That is why backpacks would be a lot helpful and convenient. A great backpack does not only prevent shoulder and back pain as it evens out the weight between your shoulders but should also be something that fits every girl’s personality. It should also display a professional image and have enough space to keep things well-organized.

Ditch the satchel or large purse, and go for the KOPACK Slim Women Laptop Backpack. This backpack is designed for gals who want a stylish bag that is classy enough for interviews and presentations. Not only will you gush for its pretty color, but this backpack is also created with an anti-theft feature to keep your belongings secure. It has a built-in USB charging slot, so you won’t have to whip out your power bank when your gadgets are low on battery. The backpack has luggage straps, a great weight balance, and it fits any 15” laptop, which is perfect for commuting students. It is slim but has more than ten compartments that keep your documents and other things in place. It’s time to stop about the rainy days or water spilling from your cup because this backpack is waterproof. Lastly, its suitcase-style opening makes for an ideal convertible bag for graduate students.


Smartwatch

Doing your best to be on top of your work in grad school may mean attending nighttime classes that lead to late-night cram sessions, sleep deprivation, and all other factors that result in unhealthy habits. Your health should be a priority. Having a smartwatch is a worthwhile investment when it comes to this. In addition to helping you keep track of your sleep and fitness, a smartwatch can also help you keep track of your activities on time. Thus, helping manage stress and time. Grad school ladies will love the chic Fitbit Versa that comes in a variety of bold colors. It’s compact and easy to operate with features for fitness metrics, apps, and notifications at a reasonable price.

The Fitbit Versa features a health tracker for females, along with other third-party apps that you can access with a simple tap. This watch is super slim and casual enough to wear during classes and at work. Its customizable clock face and accessories allow you to wear your watch the way you want it. You can even enjoy playing 2048 despite its tiny screen. You can easily register every move you make, record your classes and appointments, and get yourself some help while you study without the distraction of your smartphone. A smartwatch doesn’t just tell the time. Choosing to have one as a necessary tool may mean an easier student life in the future.


Comfortable Shoes

A pair of shoes make or break your overall outfit, but when you’re in grad school, you need to walk around classrooms or campus often, travel from the workplace to school, even walk or drive from school to your house. You will work with different advisors, peers, and audience from whom you get your first impressions. You can’t go wrong with the right shoes in grad school.

In addition to achieving that professional look, you will need to pay attention to your feet. You will get into presentations every once in a while, so you need a good pair of shoes that won’t hamper your movement while giving the presentation. You can go for well-fitting Black Pumps for a classic look or Statement Heels tailored to your style. Ballet flats also give you that effortlessly polished look if your feet are wobbly when walking with heels. You can slip into flats when your feet are tired or when you’re ready to go home after a long day.


Concealer

With millions of make-up tutorials on YouTube, it’s challenging to find the best one that fits your daily routine. You need easy and quick make-up to make you look presentable and put-together despite the late-night study sessions. Full-face make-up is not necessary for your daily grad school routine; what you need to feel confident about your looks is an all-weather concealer!

A concealer covers those dark under-eye circles and blemishes caused by all the stress and sleepless nights. The NYX HD Photogenic Concealer Wand has a variety of shade for every girl’s skin tone. It’s one of the best-value concealers in the market that is easy to apply, spread, and blend. It is formulated to create coverage that gets rid of discoloration and redness. But of course, you only apply concealer to the areas in your face that need it. With a touch of a good concealer (in just under 5 minutes), your beautiful peepers can get even more attractive, and you can take your exams without anybody knowing the graduate school work the previous night had you sleep-deprived.


All-in-one Printer

Getting the best printer means you do not have to go to the library or an internet café to print your notes, research, and assignments. Canon Pixma TS9120 is a perfect pick when you want quality, low price, and a convenient all-in-one printer. This compact printer can handle printing capabilities such as photocopying, scanning, and faxing. It sports top-rated printing speeds that you need for that dreaded term paper deadline and the first-class print quality that delivers vibrant photos with smooth textures and detailed graphics. There are built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for convenient wireless connectivity to your smartphone or laptop.  You can also pop in your SD card for printing.

The Canon Pixma TS9120 is available in 3 different colors, controlled with an adjustable 5-inch colored touchscreen, comes with six individual cartridges, is compatible with Google’s Cloud Print and Apple’s AirPrint technology, and even supports CD/DVD/BluRay disc printing. All of these simplify one aspect of grad school life— allowing you to print stuff you need while juggling classes and work. This is an excellent choice for your versatile inkjet printer.


Pen-sized Scanner

Copy texts from books into your laptop the easy way. A pen-sized scanner is remarkably helpful for students who need to take tons of notes and cover heaps of documents in books. You can use it to scan, save, and transfer selected lines, numbers, passages, images, and hand-written scripts. The IRISPen Air 7 Wireless Digital Highlighter Pen Scanner is a best value pen-sized scanner you can get for less than $100. It covers features like its expensive competitors such as portability, Bluetooth connectivity and MAC, PC, IOS, and Android compatibility. Software and an application are provided for an easy setup with any operating system.

The IRISPen Air 7 is is lightweight, so you can keep it in your bag or conveniently carry it around in your hand. You can scan almost everything, convert photos into digital files, depending on its OCR solution that recognizes more than 130 languages, and a text-to-speech feature. This technology addresses every girl’s concern in maintaining organized files and documents. Note-taking has never been this easy, and digital highlighting with this technology saves you time and money.


Portable Hard Drive

As you head off to grad school, you will need the best tech you can get. Besides your gadgets and other devices, a portable hard drive makes it easier for you to store data for school (or work). Consider storage options for all your thesis, term papers, research, photos, and other essential documents.

The Seagate Expansion Backup Plus Slim is perfect for women who are looking for a pocketable and inexpensive hard drive for grad school. It is only .38 inches thick and weighs about 4.8 ounces. This reliable hard drive supports 1tb-2tb storage capacity and has a Sync Plus tool that backs up files with just one click. It comes in different bright colors and styles to match your academic look. It’s lightweight and fits even in the smallest purse.


Book Rentals

Whether it is for a presentation or pleasure, you are going to read “a lot” of books in grad school. Pick up or download a bunch of books you need for your graduate program or your daily dose of great novels and fiction.

Thanks to Amazon Rentals, you can explore textbooks on the cheap! How does it work? You choose your rental length and pay for a rental duration selected. Amazon provides you a preview and a seven-day trial to some books. They also offer Free 2-day shipping when you sign up for either an Amazon Student or Prime account, Free Return Shipping, and 15-Day Extension and Discounts for extra semesters. Since it supports different sellers, Amazon has a wide variety of book selections and give the best pricing for each book. You might find yourself puzzled with Amazon’s rental rules at first; you have to review them thoroughly to enjoy this service.


Self-Care Essentials and Practices

It’s not unusual for modern women to have a lot on their plate. Busy schedules could result in neglecting self-care. The most important thing you need for surviving graduate school is self-care. Yes, there will be nights you won’t get enough sleep for doing coursework, writing dissertations, working with a research team, long hours at the lab, and thesis, but you need to take care of yourself, keep your sanity and well-being.

Getting an advanced degree could be demanding especially with a job outside the program. Use self-care strategies to manage stress and avoid burnout. You should nourish your mind and body to fuel you throughout your grad school life. A fail-proof self-care practice is eating healthy and drinking lots of water to keep you hydrated. Make sure you get the basics like exercise, sleep, and even social time. Manage your time to keep all these tabs checked. Connecting with family and friends is integral to your well-being. It’s alright to ask for help and build a community that will help you get through tough times and talk about something that is not school-related. The Confidence Code may be the food for thought you never knew you needed!