Good Monday Morning Friends!
Are you on your way to work? At work? Just home from work?
I’m sitting in my apartment, sippin hot tea and catching up on Survivor and Vampire Diaries. I think you can tell a lot about a person by the television shows they choose to watch. I like to think mine say something like, “I walk on the edge” or “I laugh in the face of danger!” Meh, more likely “I watch dangerous and adventurous shows because I prefer to stay in bed and read a book.”
Can I have your attention for a minute? I graduated with my Master’s degree last May. In case you hadn’t heard….
Yeesh, how did this happen? Where did the time go? How did I survive? And why am I still not impressed?
Anyone tired of hearing about it yet? Well then what the heck you doin on a blog written by a girl who just graduated with her Master’s degree!?!
We’ll forget about that last question, however, because I’m a giver and I like you. I’m gonna let you in on a few things you should know before Grad School if you so choose to torture yourself.
Grad School Applications are circulating right about now and I’ve seen a few of y’all are caught up in their midst.
Well don’t worry, I’ve been there, done that and I learned a thing or two along the way.
Not everyone’s journey will look the same of course, the way I got there won’t be the exact way you’ll get there, but there are some basic things you can do to hopefully make your grad school life a little bit more bearable.
So let’s get started!
#1 Find Someone To Pay For It
This was the single best advice anyone every gave me before I went back to school. Still being drowned by undergrad loans, the thought of increasing that sea of debt wasn’t exactly as high on my list as pursuing higher education. So if there’s one thing I say that you listen to, let it be this, FIND SOMEONE TO PAY FOR YOUR GRAD DEGREE!!!
It’s not as hard, and yet just as hard as it sounds. Find an Assistantship in your program. TA, RA, GA, doesn’t matter, but find and apply for them early. Next, find any assistantships even remotely related to your program. For example, my degree Kinesiology & Health Promotion meant I applied for everything under wellness; fitness, nutrition, research studies, any TA position in KHP, and HR. The positions are out there if only you put in the effort to find them.
University of Kentucky gave the sweet, sweet deal of not only paying my tuition, but also giving me a small, but liveable, stipend during the 9 months of each academic year.
If I can do it, you can do it!
I also suggest looking into PT jobs to supplement your income if you’re not already working as you go through school.
#2 Know Your Loans
Now that you’ve got someone else to pay for your graduate degree, make sure you’ve taken care of your undergraduate loans (if you don’t have them skip to #3 you lucky B)
Mine was the simple process of having UK fill out my deferment paperwork and sending it off to the loan people. However, know the lingo in your loan agreement and whether you need to be a full-time student or not. They tricked me my last semester when I dropped down to half-time, so don’t make that mistake. You’re still poor and can’t afford the payments.
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#3 Craigslist Isn’t So Scary.
If you’re like me and went to school out of state where you don’t know a single soul but also can’t afford rent on your own, Craigslist is your best friend and your frenemy. Some schools have a roommate seeking type website but if it’s anything like UK’s then it blows and won’t be helpful in the slightest.
A few tips to make sure you don’t land yourself your very own Dexter for a roommate.
- Make sure to get a tour of the place if you can.
- Don’t sign anything until you’re in person.
- Deal with the Landlord over the potential roommate whenever possible.
- Meet-up in person, friend on facebook, whatever you can to vet this person a little bit and them you.
- Ask for references. I never did this but not a bad idea.
I was always out-of-state right up until I needed a place (think MA to KY) so I had to make-do with photos. I did get burned this past Fall and ended up being homeless for a few weeks. I don’t recommend that…..
So start looking in advance, ask all the questions, and don’t be afraid to speak up!
Also after your first year, you’ll know people and can potentially live with them the following year.
#4 Network Before You Get There
Now this is a big one!
Shoot an email to your advisor asking to get in touch with current students in your program. Talk to them, see what it’s really like.
They can sometimes help you with finding housing as well. Better still, they’ll give you the layout of the land and city!
Assuming they’re nice like me anyway. Whenever my advisor sent my email addresses of potential students I always responded. When I was that potential student I didn’t get the same response though.
So note for when you’re in the program, be nice and helpful to the newbs!
#5 It’s MUCH Harder Than Undergrad
Seriously….And this is coming from someone who has never had to try in school before. Not humble bragging here, just letting you know what you’re signing up for. Of course it depends on the program, mine was writing and project heavy with very little testing. No matter what though, it will be tougher than you’ve ever dealt with before so now is the time to mentally prepare yourself.
On the bright side, grades don’t really matter as much in Grad School unless you have a professor with a stick up their butt.
Perhaps if you plan on continuing for you PhD, but even then your thesis and networking is more important than what grade you got in Grad level statistics….
So anyone considering grad school in their future?
What about applying right now?