It’s hard to believe that we are about halfway through the spring semester! I myself am taking three graduate courses and working here in admissions, as well as at my internship at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The majority of my friends in our higher education cohort also hold down two assistantships, part-time positions, and keep up with homework. How do we manage? Here are some tips to help keep you on track:
- Write everything down. Literally everything. While it helps to have important events noted in your phone and other devices, having a tangible schedule and agenda in front of you can really make a difference. Personally, I make a master schedule for general tasks, then attach three separate schedules for each of my courses. That way, I can see where assignment due dates will intersect, so I can plan ahead and know which days will be my busiest.
- Prioritize. Take a look at your calendar(s) and see which events and assignments are the most important. Which can you complete first? Which ones are mandatory? And, perhaps most importantly, which will help with your personal development as a student? Which will facilitate important discussions in the classroom? In asking these questions, you can effectively prioritize on more than one level and can connect assignments and class dialogues to one another.
- Stick to deadlines. Personally, I work better with more explicit deadlines. If an assignment has more flexibility and is self-paced, it may help to break it up into parts and set deadlines for yourself. For instance, I have a relatively large paper due towards the end of the semester for one of my classes, and we do not often discuss it in meetings. So, I have taken the liberty to split it up into sections and have given myself dates on which I want those sections to be completed, so I am not rushing to finish it at the last minute. So far, I have found my resources and have begun the introduction. I am excited to see the final product because I am devoting an extended length of time to it!
- Learn to say “no.” At the same time, avoid getting sidetracked: Warner students often have full plates and cannot afford to get behind on responsibilities. If you feel over-involved, take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. If you simply can’t make an optional event, don’t sweat it. Use the time more effectively and complete some assignments or work on group projects.
- Understand the importance of “down time”. If you are solely focused on work and school, your social life or lack thereof might affect your happiness and productivity on the job and in the classroom. Plan out some time to relax, or reserve some days to be a little bit more flexible– go out with friends, spend some time with family, etc. It is also important to make time for self-care: exercising, surfing social media, or keeping up with a long-term hobby can help you unwind. Finding a happy medium between down time and graduate school is valuable and can even give you experiences that you can use as examples in assignments.
Questions about managing your time as a graduate student? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your future as a Warner student– we can even set up an in-person meeting to explore programs and the campus itself.