As many of you prepare to end your last semester in undergrad and transition to graduate level in the fall, I offer some jewels of advice to ease the transition.
Assuming you start your graduate program some time in the fall, you have about 5 and a half months as of the date to prepare for your new journey. And in that time, you can do A LOT to aid in your transition to grad school.
Before you ever make it to campus, there’s some strategic things you can do to gain momentum. First, make attempts to chose classes that have some overlapping interests if possible. Why? Depending on department/professor, you may be able to gain feedback from multiple professors on a single project. Or be able to concentrate on a topic area in order to gain greater proficiency earlier on.
Secondly, secure your mentor(s). You may have a hands-off mentality, but you must make sure you have good rapport with these key figures who will aid in your intellectual growth and career aspirations. Develop an idea early on what different mentors bring different assets to the table. Some will be easier to talk to than others, while some will give hyper-detailed feedback and advice. Others don’t give great feedback, but they have great opportunistic for networking and experience. Identifying how mentors and resources can help you is crucial to success in grad school and in your career.
Once you make it to campus, what free (or subsidized resources) are available at your campus? As the grad student stipend can be tricky to balance, what you can do is find ways you can save. Checking books out from the library or inter-library loan can go a long way in making your money stretch.
Next, how will you build a sense of community? Search for cultural centers or activities of interest that will allow you to build relationships. These are crucial for mental health and go a long way to provide us with alternative prospective for our work and our life outlooks.
Finally, if you are doing a masters thesis or dissertation, have you at least begun fleshing out some tangible ideas? If not, make sure to take the summer to read the literature, and begin fleshing out projects so when you enter into your program, your advisers and your program can aid you in moving into projects. While our research interests can and often do change, beginning to gain a history of completing projects will greatly aid in your academic journey.
While these few gems are not exhaustive of all you can do to prepare, the point of this post if to bring to your consciousness that between now and entrance into your program in the fall it is totally up to you to make yourself as prepared as possible. FINISH STRONG, SEE YOU IN THE FALL!!!