Student Life

Tips for Overwhelmed Grad Students

Samantha Starkey, Student Contributor

November 07, 2018

Tips for Overwhelmed Grad Students
Graduate school is harder than college. These tips can help you when you begin to feel overwhelmed.
Graduate school is harder than college. Well, that’s obvious, right? But I’m not talking about the schoolwork itself. I’m talking about the additional responsibilities that accrue naturally as you get older: that school-work-life balance. If, like me, you work a full-time job, take a full-time course load, and attempt to balance both of these with family, friends, and maybe an exercise routine, I have some tips for when for you start to feel overwhelmed.
Prioritize. We all have different priorities in life, but the one priority that all Fastweb users have in common is school. And school is important, so you should expect to make sacrifices for it, whether that means saying no to drinks with friends or a movie night with your significant other. Remember that school is not infinite. You will be done eventually, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Ask your friends and family to try to understand this. Hobbies are important. Why? Because engaging in an activity that you enjoy can help you manage stress. So schedule time for your hobbies. Yes, schedule it. Promise yourself that for two hours on Sunday while you’re hiking, reading, watching the basketball game, practicing guitar, etc., that you will not think about school (or work) and, more importantly, that you will not feel guilty about not thinking about school (or work). You deserve time for yourself. Set deadlines for yourself. Break up larger school projects/papers into smaller, more manageable parts and give yourself a date to get each part done by. Unfortunately, the more often you break a self-imposed deadline, the easier it becomes to do it again. You simply can’t allow yourself to slack off. Establish good habits early on, and it will allow you the opportunity to be present and fully engaged in activities outside the classroom.
Use your lunch break wisely. On my lunch break, you’ll find me doing one of two things: homework or taking a yoga class (but more often the former). Not all jobs have the flexibility that allows you to eat while you’re working, but if yours does (and especially if you do have a full hour), take advantage of that time. My lunch breaks are often my most productive schoolwork hour because I’m already in a working mindset. And if I can sneak in some physical fitness during the hour that I’d otherwise just be sitting and eating, I feel better if later in the week I have to cut a workout in order to do finish up homework. Enjoy it. Graduate school may be the last opportunity you have to be in a classroom, to have the support system of professors and fellow students, to feel inspired and poised on the edge of new opportunity in your field. Go to campus events. Participate in clubs. Speak with your teachers. Grab drinks with classmates. Most importantly, know when you can and cannot do any or all of these things. School is important, but sometimes it has to take a backseat to life. This is your graduate school experience, so remember to appreciate it for what it is.

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