3 Tips for Thriving In Your First Semester of Graduate School

The acceptance letter arrived (congrats!), you’ve made your decision (woohoo!), and now it’s time to start graduate school. What’s next? Current students share strategies for success in your first semester of graduate school. 

  • Get Organized

    • Create a Weekly Schedule:
      • Each week, set aside time to create a schedule. We recommend scheduling time each day to work on school assignments – work in small increments as opposed to waiting for the night before the deadline. Planning ahead will help you accomplish what you need to do, but more importantly – it will allow you to engage more deeply with what you’re learning.
    • Prioritize Self-Care: 
      • Self-care during graduate school is essential. Burnout is real. With so many “to-do’s” vying for your attention, it’s important to spend time refueling in whatever way that looks for you – sleep, exercise, time with friends, etc. Build self-care activities into your weekly schedule, and shift your mindset to view those activities as holding as much importance as your tasks for school.
  • Connect with Faculty
    • Meet with Your Advisor
      • Go to office hours (we’ll say it again, a little louder – Go. To. Office. Hours.) Creating strong working relationships with your faculty will not only strengthen your experience in graduate school, but will open doors to opportunities for extended learning. 
    • Ask for Help:  
      • Struggling? We’ve all been there. Part of the role of faculty advisors is to help you navigate challenges that arise during your graduate coursework. Be honest about where you need support – and ask for help.
  • Get to Know Your Classmates 
    • Schedule Time to Connect with Classmates Socially: 
      • Your classmates are your biggest asset. They understand the unique challenge of balancing graduate school with all the other areas of life. They are also your future colleagues in the field (hello, networking!) Take time now to build relationships with your classmates. 
    • Seek a Peer Mentor: 
      • Many graduate programs offer students the chance to be matched with a student that is a semester or two ahead in the program. These relationships provide invaluable support in preparing for what’s to come. Don’t have an established mentor program? Ask your faculty advisor to recommend a potential peer mentor. 

Want to learn more about students’ experience in their first semester? Ask them! Connect with a School of Education Student Ambassador today.

USF School of Education


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