5 Tips To Maximize Your Graduate School Experience

Road Map for Graduate Study: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students 
by Dr. Donald C. Martin 

Deciding on whether to attend graduate school, determining where to apply, and then negotiating the application and acceptance process could easily have taken 1.5-2 years –and a lot of head-scratching and soul-searching.

But the real challenge begins when you enter into a graduate program and start trying to balance your class workload with other factors, which might include family obligations, part or full-time work, financial challenges, relationship problems, and all that life can throw at us.

Dr. Donald C. Martin, in his new book, Road Map for Graduate Study, outlines 15 ways to get the most out of your graduate school experience while still balancing life’s other pressing needs. the following are a few highlights.

1. Operate with realistic expectations.

Do not try to do everything, all the time. As you set priorities, be careful not to set them so high that you end up being unable to meet them and, as a result, feel like you have failed in some way. Think realistically about what you can and cannot do.

2. Continue to look for financial assistance.

Check with the financial aid office to see if any new scholarships became available. See if work-study positions have opened up on campus that are conducive to your schedule. Consult your department quarterly to see if any additional fellowships or assistantships have been approved. Check the Web for outside funding opportunities every few weeks.

3. Take advantage of the career placement office.

Do not wait until six months before graduation to reach out. The staff should be willing and able to assist you with resume prep, interview prep, information on potential employers, highlight meet the recruiter events, and to answer your questions.

4. If you need help, ask for it.  

If you struggle with stress, anxiety or depression, reach out for professional help. While it is sometimes hard to admit or act on once acknowledged, do not berate yourself. Once you get help, you’ll feel better and be in a much greater position to thrive in school.

5. Do not obsess about grades, ranking and reputation of your institution.

In the end, your career is dictated by who you are and what you bring to the table. Success in life is not directly correlated with one’s grade point average or with the ranking/prestige of his/her institution. Employers are going to be most interested in who you are and how strong a match they believe you are to what they are looking for. While academic performance is a consideration, it’s not the final deal maker/breaker by any means. Also, rankings will definitely fluctuate; they rarely stay the same, focus on doing your best with integrity. Work hard and be confident of yourself and your abilities. 

Dr. Donald C. Martin is an expert in the fields of enrollment management, student affairs and higher education administration. From 1980 to 2008 he managed divisions including admissions, financial aid, student development, registration/advising, and career, disabled and international services. 

Find Schools