Eight Tips for Surviving Grad School

When you think about how not everyone decides to go to college, it makes sense that there are people who also think that graduate school is not for them. Not only does it mean an extension of the sleepless nights of studying; it also requires a lot of time, hard work, and money. Teachers aren’t as forgiving, and at times, there’s this feeling that everyone sitting in class with you is just there to prove you wrong. Not everyone is cut out for it, but once you commit to going to grad school, it shouldn’t be impossible to overcome.

Here are eight tips to help you survive grad school.

Make Full Use of the Faculty

Grad school is one of the places where you’ll find some of the best personalities in your field, be it your professors or other members of the faculty. While you may feel intimidated at the thought of approaching them, remember that they are there to help usher you into a better version of your academic self. And while you’re at it, cultivate relationships as early as you can—you may need these connections later on at work.

Be as Organized as You Can

A lot of the things that you work on and accomplish in grad school can later be utilized in a future project or portfolio, so it would pay to be as organized as you can. Whether you’d prefer to physically file hard copies of papers in a folder or digitally save them using a combination of gadgets such as external hard drives and USB-C hubs, what’s important is that you have a place to safely compile your work so you’ll know where to find them should you need them.

Evaluate and Edit Your Approach

It would be naive to think that you can approach grad school the same way that you did your bachelor’s degree. Before the school year starts, evaluate your expectations, and go into the whole higher learning experience expecting to be busier than you were, but that it would definitely be something that you could conquer head-on.

Initiate!

Independence is expected of everyone in graduate school, so it pays to take the initiative. Whether it’s raising your hand to ask a question in class or being proactive enough to look for the answers to your own questions, initiating actions that contribute to your academic improvement would be a big factor in surviving the school years.

Avoid Procrastinating

Once you sign up for a graduate degree, you can expect to be busy. Time management is the key to success, so set a reasonable schedule, avoid procrastinating, and try your best to stay on top of your studies. That way, you’ll avoid burnout and maybe even finish the course with flying colors.

Set Rules Early on in the School Year

Speaking of burning out, you may find yourself taking on more than you can handle if you don’t set personal rules and boundaries from the beginning. Do you really have to read that email your phone notified you about at 3:00 a.m. immediately? Are you really obliged to meet up with everyone who wants to talk with you on any given school night? Should you say yes to absolutely everyone asking for your help? Remember that your time matters just as much as everyone else’s, so it’s really all right to say no sometimes, especially if saying yes would mean jeopardizing all the hard work you’ve put into graduate school.

Find Your Crew and Trust Them

Trust should never be given so easily to everyone you meet, but once you find graduate school friends that you can lean on, cherish them. They’ll be your biggest supporters through the tough times and your biggest fans through the ups.

Find an Extracurricular Thing

It wouldn’t do not to have a day off, when you can just relax and not think about the pressures of graduate school. Everyone needs some time off to recall that there is certainly more to life than just academics. So find a non-school-related activity that you can enjoy, and be sure to schedule it in your calendar to give yourself that much-needed downtime.




Grad school may be intimidating, but it’s also an opportunity to advance and improve in your chosen field. The road to obtaining that graduate degree may be tough, but with these tips, it should be easier to overcome.

Photo by Jasmine Coro on Unsplash

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