Grad School. You think it would be just as fun as undergrad but a little harder—no. It’s actually A LOT harder. Here are some helpful tips for if you are planning to go or are currently attending Grad school:

Time management is a must

You will most likely be running around all day going to class, work, practicum, or an internship. You will also still have your family obligations, social life and personal well-being. You are going to have to learn to plan everything out and use your time wisely.

Your planner is your best friend

It is very hard to get through Grad school without a planner. That is why it is best to use one to write everything down, even free time. I recommend the Erin Condren. It is also best to put everything on a calendar on your phone, computer and tablet so that you can make sure you don’t miss anything!

A crockpot is the best investment you will ever make

It only takes a few minutes to prepare in the morning and then Voila! you have a hot, home-cooked meal when you get home. It will save you time and money, as well as stop you from going to those awful fast food places. You can score one for about $15-50.

Exercising is more effective at keeping you awake than any amount of coffee

And it actually burns calories. You will also feel more focused, productive and good about yourself—all while avoiding the stomachache that comes with too many cups of coffee, the breath and the yellow teeth. Make yourself do it in the morning or whenever is best for you during the day. It will feel like it will drain you of all the energy you don’t have, but in the end, you will have more.

Find an outside interest

Whether it’s writing, dancing, running, or playing music, find something you can do that makes you feel good and has nothing to do with your program. This will help you avoid getting tired of your program and prevent burnout. It will also help remind you that there are other things in life.

Save and backup everything

We all know computers are not always reliable, so make sure you get an external hard drive to backup all of your files. Professors will usually not consider it an excuse if your hard drive crashed and your 20-page research paper due that same day was lost. Think ahead and avoid any tragedies. Don’t wait until you finish your paper to save it. Save it as often as possible while you are writing it. Have folders to save previous assignments, papers and syllabi. You never know when you might need them in the future.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

That is what your professors are there for. It is better to say you are having trouble earlier, rather than later. Then you are giving them time to actually figure out how they can help you so you can succeed.

Seek comfort in your cohort

Chances are, if you are stressed or having a hard time, they are feeling it too. Reach out to members of your cohort and have a pow-wow once in a while. You can all learn from each other and help each other out.

Build your professional network

Find conferences or volunteer opportunities that pertain to what you want to do in the future so you can stand out from the crowd. Build these relationships so that you can have more than enough options for future jobs or internships. It’s what you know AND who you know.

Do something for yourself every once in a while

Whether it’s a vacation at the end of the semester, a concert, a spa day, or even just a night on the town, do something you enjoy every so often. This will help you reenergize and relax, as well as remind you that there are other things in life you can look forward to.

Don’t get too bogged down by grades

You are probably an overachiever, but you will probably not sustain a perfect 4.0 during your whole time at Grad school—and that’s okay. Getting a B is not the end of the world and nor will your future employers mark you down for not receiving perfect grades. In the real world, it’s your experience and skill set that matters so much more.

Take care of yourself first

No matter if you are working in business or working to become a doctor, you will not be able to help anyone unless you help yourself first. Give yourself some time to relax if you are too stressed and talk to someone if you are struggling. It will make you a better person and worker in the long run.

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