We know that going to grad school is tough. There are plenty of nights that you wish you had never signed up for this. But guess what?
The reward is ALWAYS WORTH IT.
Plus, here are some tips to keep your head in the game.
1. What kind of learner are you? KNOW THYSELF
It’s so important to know how you work. How do you work well? What kind of personality type are you? This will help to inform your learning and allow for you to be gracious with yourself.
2. What to Read, What to Read
Make sure to know what is the top priority and which readings you can put on the back burner for a couple days. Get creative and find out ways to obtain your readings and/or books on tape, or download relevant podcasts for a research paper you are writing. Coordinate via your learning management platform app so that your readings and due dates sync to your calendar. That way, your readings come to you!
3. Its the Journey, NOT THE GRADE.
Don’t get me wrong. Grades are important. In most grad programs, you need a 3.0 just to stay in school (and that is a good thing! But what is more important is to learn to “let go of the grade” and focus more on the journey. Use tips for mindfulness in your daily life as you proceed through school so you can stay present in what is happening TODAY. Often times, it is easy to get sucked into the perfectionism trap of needing “100’s and A+’s on everything” and sometimes self-shaming when the 100 percent mark is not achieved.
In grad school, learning happens at all times. You just have to avail yourself to the opportunity. You may find that when you believe learning is happening everywhere and in the most unlikely times, you will cultivate an appreciation UNCONDITIONALLY for your learning journey. Wow- what a goal!
4. Live at Your Learning Edge
Seek opportunities wisely. You get out of grad school what you put into it. Don’t just pick the easiest or most convenient of opportunities and take risks in what you take on. You never know when that random day volunteering for your neighbor’s son’s girl scout troop will turn out to be the next stepping stone on your way to the top!
5. Figure Out Who You Can Lean On
You need a support system in grad school– no doubt about it. Find out who you can lean on and in what ways. You might have a friend who you keep in touch with who just finished nursing school. He might be able to share some of his textbook ordering websites that were most helpful. Find out what babysitter in town can come over on short notice when you need some time to finish a final paper due the next morning. Call on your old professors from undergraduate for some motivation to keep going when you get your first grade that you are unhappy with. Your network will be your incubator as you grow into a professional social worker and beyond!