If you're considering going to grad school, you may think the process consists of a few applications and recommendations and, boom, you're in. However, this is not the case. Preparing for graduate school is much different than getting ready for undergraduate programs, regardless of whether you're looking at law schools or MBA programs. Consider these tips on what you should do before entering any graduate program.
"Many graduate students tutor or have a paid part-time job to help make ends meet."
1. Get your finances in order
Many students go to graduate school using student loans or scholarships. However, as a student, it's important to keep track of finances to make sure that you can tackle those loan payments as they come in. Even sitting down with a financial planner may be smart, as he or she can suggest proper ways to budget and review your finances to ensure you'll be able to take on those hefty bills when they begin to arrive. Many graduate students tutor or have a paid part-time job to help make ends meet, and others are eligible for financial aid, according to the Office of the U.S. Department of Education. Look into employment opportunities that line up with your career path so you can use it as work experience.
2. Worry less about your GPA and more about the experience
As with any school program, it's common to worry about your grades. After all, people are taught that a great GPA will lead to a stellar job. However, when it comes to grad school, you should be focused on your overall learning experience, Psych Central recommended. While grades may have some effect on your employment, understanding your field and being able to discuss it in depth is much more impressive. There's more to graduate programs than just grades. You may have an internship during your time at school or be a teacher's assistant. It's important to understand that graduate school requires balance. So, during your first days on campus, worry less about when the first test is and listen more intently to what the professor is saying during his or her lectures.
3. Understand reading in a different way
Regardless of the graduate program you're in, you're going to be doing a lot of reading. While you may have had a lot of reading to do in your undergraduate programs, you should look at these assigned articles in a different way. Whether you're required to pore over research papers or read relevant news-based pieces, it's important to actually soak in what you're looking over. Don't simply be concerned with how many pages there are and how many you've completed. Instead, understand the text and think about how it applies to your course or lecture discussions. Consider what the author did right and what he or she could have done better. Not only reading required text, but understanding its message will help you succeed in any graduate program.
4. Figure out your workflow
Everyone works in different ways. Some people are more productive during the morning, while others do best at night. Find out what environments work best for you, whether it's the local coffee shop or a silent library, and determine what hours are best for you. Figure out whether you work well in groups or alone. Can you sit and do a single task for several hours, or do you fare better with moving from task to task? Once you know this process, your workload will seem much lighter.