12 Tips for Thriving in Grad School

“Grad school also is a unique experience,” notes Carol Williams-Nickelson, Ph.D, former associate executive director of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students in the helpful article “12 Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Grad School.”

It’s unlike college, where classes are of chief importance, cramming the night before leads to decent grades and there’s plenty of time for play and extracurricular activities. Being a graduate student is a full-time job that requires you to sharpen a variety of skills — and learn some new ones.

Williams-Nickelson, along with Tara Kuther, Ph.D, professor at the Department of Psychology at Western Connecticut State University, share their insights on how students can better prepare themselves for the demands of grad school.

  1. Know how you work.

There’s no doubt about it: Grad school is a lot of work. And in order to keep up with the demands, you need to know how you truly work, according to Kuther, who believes that this is key for succeeding in grad school. Learn “when you’re most productive and when you aren’t.”

  1. Read smarter, not harder.

“In grad school, reading is a whole skill unto itself,” said Kuther, who’s also an About.com guide to graduate school. Like most students, it’s likely that you read beginning from end and don’t think about why you’re reading the text ‘til later, she said. But this is actually unhelpful.

Rather, you need to “read with purpose,” she said. This involves looking at the organization of a piece, the headers, chapter headings and bullet points. Also, think about why you’re reading the article, how it fits into your course or research and what you should be getting out of it, Kuther said. Try to determine if it supports your argument and if there’s any surprising information.

Also, when reading anything for your own research, “if it doesn’t fit your paper at all, stop reading.” “A lot of students will still read,” Kuther said, and this just wastes your time.

To continue reading the entire article on PsychCentral.com by Margarita Tartakovsky, click here.

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