Running the Grad School Gamut: How to Survive

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Graduate school will test your ability to learn important information that you need for your career. Try these four techniques so you can conquer grad school and prepare for the future.

1. Always Get Enough Sleep After Studying

Graduate students have to cram a lot of information into their brains. Unfortunately, many grad students sacrifice sleep so they can spend more time studying. That actually makes it harder for your brain to retain and recall information.

Sleep plays a key role in memory retention. Research has shown that students who take a test after a night of sleep actually do better on tests than those who study in the morning and take tests 12 hours later.

Without enough sleep, your brain doesn’t have a chance to turn information into memories. Sleeping six to eight hours per night may seem like a waste of time, especially before a big exam, but it will help you perform better.

2. Get to Know Your Professors and Fellow Students

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses at school. You may excel at math while struggling to understand some management strategies. You may find that you’re great at communication but you have difficulty using advanced computer software. Everyone faces their own challenges.

You can make those challenges easier by forming relationships with your professors and fellow students. When you encounter a difficult concept, you can rely on the people you know to offer extra help. You’re more likely to get the help you need when you feel comfortable talking to your instructors and fellow students.

Building these relationships could also help you find a job after you earn your degree.

3. Find a Job That Lets You Use Your New Skills

82 percent of the country’s 4.1 million graduate students hold jobs while finishing their studies. In today’s economy, earning money while attending school is often a necessity.

A job that’s unrelated to your graduate program might help you pay the bills, but it won’t reinforce the skills you learn. If you find a job that lets you exercise those skills, you can get real-world experience while reinforcing class lessons. Unlike in undergraduate study, school and work can be intertwined for the best results in both. This is the prime chance to build your career and hit the ground running later.

4. Find Study Strategies That Work for You

A study strategy that works for one person may not do the trick for someone else. It’s important to try a variety of techniques to find one that works for your learning preferences. Techniques that work for most people include flash cards or practice tests made from chapter review questions, studying in frequent sessions for shorter lengths, and mixing a variety of learning materials rather than just reading a book for hours.

Now that you know a few ways to improve graduate school performance, which options do you think will work best for you? Do they help you feel less anxious about becoming a graduate student?