January Entry: New Year, New Me. Really!

Congratulations, you have made it through your first semester of graduate school. It’s the start of a new year, and of course, a new semester. Many people have used the phrase “new year, new me” as a means of declaring to better themselves in the new year and learn from their past mistakes. As a graduate student, it is definitely possible to improve yourself in the life of academia, but it starts with learning how to handle your classes as well as taking care of yourself.
The first thing that graduate students should do before a new semester begins is to reflect on your experiences in the previous semester. In doing so it will help recognize what you need to do to help make your life as a graduate student less stressful. The first thing one should reflect on is their coursework. It’s important to recognize the difficulty level of classes you’ll be taking so you can determine if more study time will be needed or not. Doing so will help you prioritize courses that may need more attention than others if you find course material difficult. Another factor that can be crucial is working with other classmates more frequently in said courses. Lastly, visiting the professor during office hours can be more beneficial in understanding the material better, especially if you didn’t do it that much last semester. Next we will talk about the importance of taking care of yourself outside of the lab or classroom.
Grad school can be a very stressful environment and while it’s important to stay on top of your coursework, it’s equally important to care of yourself. One way to help reduce stress in your academic career is by surrounding yourself by people that are going be a positive influence in your academic journey. Whether they be professional colleagues, professors, or classmates, have people that can encourage you to keep going can help make the stress more manageable. Other ways to reduce stress can be a form of recreational activity or something as simple as working out in the gym. Speaking from experience, going to the gym a couple times a week and running on the treadmill usually helps me ease any stress I have going on during the week. There may be times you may not to be able to commit to a certain number of days working out or any other sort of activity, but having something to do that’s not academic related can help make graduate school become less stressful.
Starting a new semester of graduate school can be seen as an opportunity to improve oneself. Learning from your past experiences and repeating certain practices that helped you in your journey over the ones that were more of a hindrance can help make life in graduate school that much easier. So in conclusion, as a certain Vulcan from Star Trek once said (Spock): “Live long, and prosper.”