Upon acceptance to grad school, students are typically met with a variety of emotions. Some good and some bad.
On the one hand, grad school is a fantastic opportunity; and being accepted can be a life-changing event.
But on the other hand, it’s no secret that graduate school is one of the toughest things you’ll face in your academic career.
So it’s really common to feel overwhelmed and underprepared.
This is why I wanted to write this post; which will not only share three ways to prepare yourself for graduate school but also answer some questions you may have.
Let’s start off with the questions!
Is It Normal to Feel Underprepared for Grad School?
If you are someone who’s feeling unprepared in regard to graduate school, then don’t worry, you’re not alone!
According to this article by NC State University, a large majority of grad students share this feeling.
And furthermore, the article states that in many cases… students are actually somewhat underprepared.
But if that’s true for you, then the good news is that with the right information and planning; you can turn things around quickly!
How Do You Know if You’re Ready for Grad School?
Another common question I see people asking is how they can know if they’re ready for grad school.
And this question is a tough one to answer because everyone’s situation is different.
And at the end of the day, you’re the only one that truly knows if you’re ready.
To help you decide, here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re ready for grad school.
- Do you feel passionate about what you want to study?
2. Are your finances in order and ready for the strains of grad school?
3. Do you have a good reason to go, and will the grad school degree help you with your future?
Lastly, check out our article on the pros and cons of getting a master’s degree.
How Long Should You Prepare for Grad School?
Many people also question the timing of grad school.
Such as what age you should start it, how far in advance you should begin preparing, etc.
A good rule of thumb is that you should start preparing for grad school at least eighteen months before you want to start.
But that has more to do with the application process than the type of preparation we’re talking about today.
So if you’ve already been accepted, the answer is simply to start preparing as soon as you can.
And as for the age question, the answer is that you should start graduate school whenever you’re ready!
If you’ve just finished undergrad and want to start grad school, then that’s great.
But if you’ve waited a while and are a bit older, that’s great as well.
Don’t overthink it!
How to Prepare For Grad School
Regardless of whether or not you’re actually underprepared or just feeling that way, the following tips should help you feel more grad school ready.
So let’s jump in.
1. Figure Out The Basics
It’s easy to become completely focused on the educational portion of grad school and forget that it impacts a lot of other parts of your life as well.
But part of preparing yourself for grad school is planning out some of the non-educational aspects of it.
Things like housing, finances, transportation, etc.
In terms of housing, you’ll need to figure out if you want to live on-campus or in an apartment or accommodation off of campus. Then adjust and plan accordingly.
Financially, you may need to apply for financial aid, create a budget, find a job that works with your schedule, etc.
And as far as transportation goes, you’ll need to plan how you’ll get to and from where you need to go.
Can you afford a car, or would a bus be more logical?
Once you have all the basics figured out, you can start to focus on the rest of your grad school journey.
2. Look Over Your Syllabus
One tip that could be particularly helpful is to take a look at your syllabus ahead of time; since this can help you with everything from scheduling to getting ahead of your studies.
For instance, you could study some of the material you see will be covered in advance. Particularly if you think it might be challenging for you.
Or you could take note of which weeks might be busier for you, course-load-wise, and adjust your other plans accordingly.
Overall, it just helps you to know what’s coming and you’ll likely feel more reassured than if you just went into it blindly.
3. Find Support From Others
You may already have a support system of some kind set up, but with this tip, I’m referring more so to a support system formed from people in your same situation.
Something like connecting with other students, for example, could be really helpful.
Because they too are trying to figure grad school out, and you can help each other.
You could even organize some study groups for accountability, join fun after-school activities to make new connections, etc.
And this could even help you in the long run, because you’re essentially networking and forming connections that you’ll keep for life.
So it could prove helpful in your career later on.
Along these same lines, try to acquaint yourself with the faculty as well.
Meet your professors and get on friendly terms with everyone as soon as you can.
How Do I Stop Stressing About Grad School?
In short, these three tips can help you feel significantly more prepared for grad school. And the more prepared you feel, the less stressed you’ll be.
So make sure to plan ahead, perhaps even study ahead, and connect with others who could help you through the process.
And remember that you’ve got this!
Over To You
Do you have any of your own tips to share in regard to preparing for graduate school? I’d love to hear any of your thoughts in the comments at @netwerkmovement.com.
And if you know someone who this article could help, please send them this post!