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Adjusting to Grad School: When You Can’t Do It All

  10-Dec-2014  |   Post By:

I recently wrote that the major ways to handle schedule changes in grad school are to set your priorities, budget your time, and know your limits. I also discussed that managing your time, maintaining your relationships, and creating new relationships are ways you can adjust to social changes in grad school. But what if your new schedule and changed social life get to be too much?

What if you can’t do it all? Here are ways to more easily adapt to a combination of these major life changes that can impact your time in school.

Understanding the Hard Truth

Sometimes, I have to be the bearer of bad news for grad students, and this post is no exception. Whether you’re in grad school now or are preparing to apply to grad schools soon, you need to understand something: graduate school is very different from undergraduate school. No matter how good a student you were, you will not be able to do the same things you did in undergrad as a grad student. Not only will there be harder classes and professors, but there will also be longer and denser readings, lengthy seminars, and tougher expectations. Read here to learn more about major differences between undergrad and grad life from a professor’s point of view.

Learning When to Say No

In grad school, you’ll likely come across invitations to social events, similar to your time as an undergrad. As I mentioned in my post about social changes, maintaining your relationships can help you adjust, but managing your time is more important. Set aside specific times of each month or week that you can dedicate to social activities, and let your closest friends and family know when these are. Then, they won’t be too disappointed when you can’t come to something that’s outside of that time frame. Aside from that, you’ll need to take control of your time and decide which types of events you can and cannot afford to attend.

Appreciating the Outcome

Like any student, you are going to make decisions in grad school that you regret. You might go to the movies with old friends instead of a study session with new friends, or you might spend hours on Netflix instead of hours in the library. However, realizing your tendency to do these things is important so you can avoid your own pitfalls. Again, you are the one in charge of your own time and decisions. When choosing the harder path of attending the study session or spending time in the library, understand that the outcome will be worth the price. Sacrificing some of your time and resources in grad school is a must, and visualizing the end result might even make it easier for you.

Unfortunately for most, you won’t be able to do all the things you once did as an undergrad student. The quicker you’re able to understand the hard truth, say no to unnecessary things, and be okay with the outcome, the better your life as a grad student will be. Good luck, and leave your comments below!