I have been in grad school for a year now. And in that year, I have made a handful of mistakes. Nothing life-shattering! But still, these mistakes ended up costing me sleep and a lot of stress and grief. I wanted to write about my experiences, so that I can pass along whatever bits of advice and wisdom I gained to someone else who is going to attend or is currently attending grad school.
After talking with a few classmates, I have gathered a list of six things that you SHOULD NOT DO when you’re in grad school.
DO NOT… Schedule all of your courses for the same day
This was the worst mistake I made in my first year of grad school. I scheduled all three of my courses (three courses or nine hours is considered full time) on Monday. I had a class at 8:30 a.m., a class at 1 p.m., and another class at 4 p.m. On paper, that sounded nice because I could get my in-class time out of the way and leave the rest of the week to do other stuff, like work. Boy, was I wrong. If you have all your courses in one day, you will be exhausted AF. It may have worked in undergrad, but it won’t in grad school. Just take my word for it. Also, you’ll spend more money on coffee throughout the day, and it’ll reach a point where coffee doesn’t even help you wake up anymore.
DO NOT… Sign up for back-to-back courses
Avoid this if you can. If you have back-to-back courses, that means you will probably also have back-to-back exams. That’s not fun at all. Instead of studying your butt off for one exam, you have to do that for two exams and you have no time in between to take a breather.
DO NOT… Register for a course without looking at the syllabus or asking the professor about the course material
At the University of Texas at Dallas, professors are required to upload their syllabi just before a semester begins. This is advantageous for students because you can review the syllabi before class begins and see whether it is really a course you want to take. It’s even more advantageous because you can also access old syllabi. Often times, the course material does not change, only the dates. If you have access to a syllabus, review it! Make sure the course you want to take is worth the tuition you are paying for! For example, why would you take a course that only teaches you Microsoft Excel skills when you can simply watch YouTube tutorial videos for free?
DO NOT… Work two jobs while taking four courses
I had a dear friend and classmate who did this during her second semester of grad school, and she later admitted that she took on too much and suffered in one of her classes. While I do not doubt her ability to juggle, it takes a lot of your mental and physical energy. Even if your two jobs are part-time, it’s tough. If you have four courses, I suggest dropping one if it’s possible that you can take it another semester.
DO NOT… Waste time going to an office when you can just call (or tweet)
For example, if I had a question about my school parking permit, I would not waste time to drive to school, stop by the transportation office, stand in line, and wait just to ask someone a question. Instead, pick up the phone and call. I suffer from phone anxiety from time to time, but for something as trivial as this, I’d rather make a quick call. Or if the office is good about social media communications, just ask via Facebook or Twitter. Little things like this will save you time.
DO NOT… Buy textbooks
If you bought and sold textbooks all the time in undergrad (like me), then don’t do it anymore when you’re in grad school. Renting is the way to go! You save money upfront, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of reselling the book. Amazon Rentals lets you ship your textbooks back to them for free through UPS. Unless you plan to keep a textbook after the course is over, I highly recommend you rent.