by Estefany Rodriguez Rodriguez, Human Resource Development MS student
Going to graduate school is a big deal and for many is a great move. It means that you want to start a new path or continue to increase vital intellectual skills to a more satisfying career. It can even increase your earning power. Grad school is a unique experience and it’s a full time job that requires you to sharpen many skills and even learn new ones.
For me, it has been a great experience, and RIT made it a better one. I have been able to learn so much more than I expected, and yes it has been a bit challenging (often), but hey! NO PAIN NO GAIN (if it applies in this context 😛 ). There are many things I wish I knew before coming to grad school, and I will share some of them with you, as well as some tips I found online.
Make sure all your documents are in order before coming to campus
Can you imagine arriving to the university only to find out that your important documents are missing or incomplete? Make sure that all your student and financial aid forms are complete and on file before the semester starts. Also, remember to make an appointment with your adviser, know where the office is, and ask as many questions as you can to feel ready to start your master.
Research about your curriculum and professors
Familiarize yourself with your courses and professors, and if you can purchase some of the text books in advance. Also, a good advice is to plan ahead with an academic plan. Research about your curriculum and make a plan for each semester, in this way you have an idea of what are the courses you are going to take throughout your career. It is less stress when the class selection process comes.
Know how you work
Yes, grad school can be a lot of work and very challenging, but knowing how you work can make your life easier. I don’t know about you, but I am the queen of procrastination (not that I am proud of that but I gotta be honest). During my career here at RIT I have learned to properly schedule my agenda and try to do everything on time so I burn less neurons when stressing over late work. Also, try to understand your mind and body and have discipline once you achieve it. Find out what is the organization strategy that best fits you. In my case, I use my agenda and a white board. I write down everything that is longer term on my agenda (future homework, class activities, meetings, due dates for exams, etc.) , trust me it’s soooo helpful. Now, on my white board, I usually write what I need to do for the day and my goals for the week sometimes.
“Learn when you’re most productive and when you aren’t”
Focus less on grades and more on learning
WAOO! I really wish I knew this before. You know, sometimes I feel that grad life is a lot more about learning and networking than good grades. Of course you want to have good grades but you also want to make you retain the information. You are also developing relationships with individuals that will become lifetime colleagues and even friends. One of my professors once said to me to focus less on the homework, and try to go to more conferences and to network more. Take her advice guys!!
Tip # 5
Think about ways to get involve outside the classroom. RIT has hundreds of clubs you can join (read more about them here,) and also sports team, and you can also join student government. This is a great way to get distracted and network and develop interpersonal skills! People are sooo nice here at RIT, and fitting in won’t be a problem.
Hope this was helpful!!