Not sure if grad school is the right fit for you?
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I was lucky to have all things go in the right direction since the day I started my grad school career. However, there’s no debating how important and better it is to have a plan in place over just being lucky. After finishing one year of grad school, I looked back on what my plans were before starting. I was shocked to realize that none of the factors that I now consider to be important made it to my list that I created during my preparatory phase.
This realization prompted me to think of the factors which I didn’t know before, but are crucial and usually accrued over a person’s experience as they go through grad school.
So, here are my top five tips to be considered during your preparation process for grad school:
Timing is key!
Being in the right place at the right time is very important. Whether you’re looking for financial aid or a free pizza, timing is key! Be late and who knows, you might have just missed free education or free food. Which one hurts the most might be debatable for some. Talk to your seniors – those who have gone before you – and create a timeline of the things you need to do for the next day, week, month, and so on.
Get in touch with professors!
Get to know what courses professors are teaching. It never hurts to email professors regarding your interests in an area or ask for their advice. You can do this even before you get started with grad school and this will help you figure out which professor’s work aligns with your goals.
Funding opportunities include Graduate Assistant Research (GAR), Graduate Assistant Teaching (GAT), Graduate Assistant Non-Teaching (GANT), etc. Opportunities will change depending on what time of the year it is, hence it’s important to revisit the first point, timing, and take this factor into consideration. Again, reach out to as many people as you can and ask for their advice.
Having the right set of friends can make a big difference!
This can refer to a colleague, a roommate or the people you hang out with regularly. Make sure that you are surrounded by people who share information about important events happening and do your best to support them in return. Information about anything in grad school is critical for your planning.
First semester courses!
This single factor (which may vary for different departments) can help fall-admit students get a teaching assistant position in the second semester or an internship in the successive year’s summer. The combination of courses taken in the first semester is critical and can decide the future path in your chosen field. Make sure to consider this factor and talk to people about it.