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Grad School: A Survival Guide

Published May 14, 2012 by heatherksmith

So, I promised a year ago that I would start blogging again.  The Grad School Gods disagreed. So, this has actually started to become more of a yearly blog as opposed to weekly, monthly or daily.

Well, I’m hoping that is going to change.  I’ve finished all of my graduate courses, and am now only working on my thesis (please don’t take the “only” in that sentence too literally).

While my spare time is still sparse, I’m hoping to be an active member of the blogosphere once again.  And to reinstate my blogging license, I would like to offer all of you my fool-proof steps to surviving grad school as a full-time young professional.

That’s right, I was taking full-time grad classes, along with a full-time career.  What I wasn’t doing full-time was sleeping.

Anyway, my  Five Fool-Proof  Steps to Survive Grad School

  1. Start a caffeine addiction:
    Starbucks, the cup of joe at the office and the occasional soda should saturate your day. I know after your 10-hour day, you probably did homework until 1AM. How else are you going to make it through the day today without face planting on your desk and being shook awake in a puddle of drool by your boss? It’s 2012 everyone expects you to have some sort of addiction anyway. Just ask TLC.
  2. Sleep, Just Say No:
    You know that saying “you can sleep when you’re dead”? Live by it. There is no way you’re going to finish 2 literature reviews and do three chapters of reading by sleeping 8-10 hours every night.  Who needs sleep anyway? We have caffeine to counteract it (please refer to Step 1).
  3. Date Someone and Have Friends Just as Busy:
    Your boyfriend/girlfriend and friends aren’t going to get irritated with you ditching because you have a paper due or hanging out with them with homework in hand if they have an equally hectic schedule. This just means you’re all boring.  That’s ok, you’re also smart. Keep telling yourselves that.
  4. Let Yourself Go A Little:
    I always like to have my hair and make up done my first few days of class. This is just for proof that I can look attractive. It’s all down hill from there. By cutting out primp time in the morning, you’ll get in another hour of sleep (Refer back to steps 1 & 2, I know you’re already lacking in this area). Be prepared for people telling you that you look tired, which they may as well be telling you that you look like crap. Just remember, you ARE tired! And you’re also going places in life.
  5. Wine-based Study Groups:
    My friends can agree, cramming for a test is always better together, and it’s even better with a box of Franzia. Don’t laugh at this, my friends and I all pulled A’s in the most difficult class in the department. For this, I thank you Franzia.
Ok, so the above steps are a little ridiculous, even though I did follow them to some extent. (Or to a full extent).  But here is my one true and probably only healthy tip:
Friday Night=Fun Night: Feel free to switch Friday with Saturday. So you’re not sleeping much, you’re hyped up on caffeine, and possibly more stressed than you’ve ever been. TAKE A BREAK!  You will begin to hate your life if all you do is study and work.  A night of doing nothing is completely necessary and OK! You got into grad school, you’re passing your classes, you’re going to eventually get your Masters Degree even if you do take the night off.
Well, I’m off to bed. I’ve got a full day of work tomorrow and a night of editing a thesis proposal. Doesn’t sound fun to you? Well, it does to me. I guess that’s another tip I have for you. No matter how tired or stressed you might be, if you truly love your job and you picked a Master’s that fits your passion, you’re really not going to mind getting out of bed everyday to a full day’s work and full night’s study.
Good night, I’ll see you at the Starbucks drive thru tomorrow.
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