Tips for Surviving Grad School
By: Amanda Labuza
I was recently asked what my number one piece of advice was for first year graduate students. I soon realized I didn’t have one piece of advice, I had a ton. So for all you new graduate students, here are a few pieces of advice I have for you.
- Don’t compare your progress to others –no one takes the same path here, so don’t get discouraged if someone is ahead or behind you
- Find a good mentor –it can make all the difference in your experience
- If the mentor has had no recent grad students that might be a red flag –it could just be because of funding, or it could be because they’re avoided by everyone, find out which.
- Study to learn, not to pass –so much of the information you’ll be taught will actually matter, so learn to take notes that will help you in years to come. Start memorizing information for long term not short term use.
- Find a work life balance –grad school is hard, you don’t want to burn out, so find ways to take care of yourself.
- Work hard, play hard –as busy as we get, we can still take time off. Just be prepared to make up work before and after.
- Help your future self –my biggest enemy has been my past self who didn’t take good notes, who put off that task, who thought “I’ll remember that without writing it down.”
- Plan ahead –take a minute and plan out your experiment, order reagents before you run out.
- Ask for help –there’s no shame in it. In fact, it is better to ask for help and get it done right than waste time doing it wrong.
- Advocate for yourself –no one else is going to care about your future but you, so ask for what you need.
- It’s okay to cry –you’re not a wimp, studies can get discouraging, go ahead and let it out.
- Don’t ask when someone is graduating –it’s just upsetting, we don’t know, so don’t ask.
I probably could think of a hundred more things to write, but I’ll leave you with this for now. I hope you find some of these pieces of advice helpful. Good luck to all the graduate students, no matter where you are in your graduate career!