How to Survive Grad School

In previous years, the most awarded undergraduate degrees were in the areas of communication, journalism, visual and performing arts, engineering, biological and biomedical sciences, psychology, social sciences and history, health sciences, and business. Students pursue these fields to gain access to more and better career opportunities.

The year 2018 saw a spike in the number of graduate enrollees. With a graduate degree, future professionals can choose to specialize in an area of study that captures their interest. They engage primarily in research and are poised to contribute to the field.

While the numbers are optimistic, graduate students take on a heavy academic load, and many of them keep a full-time job while at it; hence, the struggle. Motivation can only do so much, and it all will start to feel like an obligation in no time.

A Harvard study revealed that graduate students are three times more prone to depression and other mental health issues. Besides their underlying psychological conditions, an inefficient education system, and the lack of support from or communication with professors can cause graduate students to drop out; not to mention the pressure for students to find and keep the type of career that measures up to the effort they put in graduate studies.

To avoid these pitfalls, graduate students must be well prepared. They need to be armed with the right tools, mindset, and knowledge to see through to their graduate degree completion.

Here are some of the most proven tips to make it in graduate school. Explore your options using these page jumps!

But first, research.
Keep a healthy work-study-life balance.
Get support.
Create a budget.
Don’t just survive; thrive.
Do not get too overwhelmed.
Utilize every resource you have.
Focus on the idea or solution.
Take an active part in the community.
Find a good mentor.


But first, research.

Clearly defined goals as to your job outlook, earning potential, and long-term career prospects will take you back to what your graduate study is all about: a lot of writing and researching. Specialize in the fields of research that address your learning preferences and interests. To excel in your academics, adhere to standards, and examine published studies. Carefully strategize to be good at what you do.


Keep a healthy work-study-life balance.

Ask yourself: Can I commit to graduate study without sacrificing life outside school or work?

Graduate study demands A LOT from you. Studying, researching, and writing eventually become the new normal for a graduate student. With full-time work on the side, you may find yourself squeezing in academic tasks during the weekend, on holidays, or after-work hours. However, this kind of lifestyle is not sustainable. It can cause burnout and you may develop strained relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.


Get support.

The lack of support from your friends and family can be damaging. While you would want to put family, financial obligations, and graduate study at the same priority level, one of these will have to take a back seat. Get your family involved in the decision-making process. Allow them to see your goals (and your choice to enroll in graduate school) from your perspective. Let your family know of your circumstances and explain what is expected of you as a graduate student.  Emphasize that ultimately, you can’t do it without their support.


Create a budget.

Financial unpreparedness takes you to the losing end. Budget planning before your enrollment can help you avoid unwanted expenses. Make sure you have sustainable savings to meet family obligations even with your graduate degree on the horizon. Is your university too far from where you live? To save on travel expenses, consider an accredited online graduate school. You’ll enjoy the convenience without compromising the quality of graduate education you acquire.

Opting for government-sponsored scholarships, working for your graduate institution, or having employers pay for your graduate program are some of the ways to ease the financial burden. Some teacher assistantships can help you accumulate credits, which means fewer classes to attend and lower payments to make.


Don’t just survive; thrive.

Get enough exercise, maintain proper nutrition, and get lots of sleep. Only when you make the right plans will you be able to make these a part of your routine. Deadlines can be quite a challenge to meet, especially when they overlap with your other obligations, but you can work around them! Keep a strict schedule to make time for school, work, socializing, family, and yourself. Communicate with classmates and faculty members regularly to help you ease the feeling of isolation that comes with keeping a hectic schedule.


Do not get too overwhelmed.

Are your course requirements becoming too much to handle? Take a step back and breathe deep. It is normal to be overwhelmed by the truckload of academic tasks; it’s graduate school, after all!

Redirect your negative thoughts to positive things that help you boost your confidence. Avoid all forms of distraction, such as social media, on “meet-the-deadline” days. Create a smooth workflow to meet your goals without overlapping your schedules. Take small but sure steps toward accomplishing your tasks on a daily and weekly basis, as opposed to getting all those papers done all at once.


Utilize every resource you have.

Graduate school is often the lonely road less taken, but you’re not all alone in it! Share ideas with other students, talk about your challenges with them and perhaps, find solutions together. If you’re employed, ask your colleagues and supervisors for help in data gathering for your graduate thesis. Talk to your professors if you need academic guidance, direction, or advice.


Focus on the idea or solution.

Just because you’re in graduate school doesn’t mean you love everything about it. The graduate thesis, for one, involves an arduous process nobody can be truly prepared for! Conducting mini-experiments, checking out relevant research publications, and asking for your mentor’s help can all make a difference in finding the answers. Look for opportunities to solve them, and focus on the end goal of completing your graduate thesis.


Find a good mentor.

A knowledgeable and supportive mentor can make a difference in your pursuit of a graduate degree. Find a trustworthy advisor who will provide you with the right insights, direction, and motivation to keep going despite the odds!


Take an active part in the community.

Getting involved in teaching opportunities (assistantships), research, and other extracurricular activities integrate your academic studies in real-life situations. This, in turn, can be helpful in writing, evaluating, recalibrating, revising your dissertation or graduate thesis. Your active involvement in these activities is also a plus in your credentials.

Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124