This advice series asks bloggers for advice on a certain topic and I post the responses for all to read. Last week I asked you all to give your advice to those in graduate school or thinking about going to grad school and/or those with spouses in graduate school. The response was wonderful with insightful, smart, and at times hilarious answers. Thank you to all who contributed. With so many people going back to school it's nice to be able to have other bloggers to relate to and garner advice from.
*To read the full comments, click here for the original post.
Advice from bloggers about grad school:
The biggest thing I have learned is that despite the fact that J is in school, he is working. Treating his (school) as an actual job where he needs to work, uninterrupted, has been key. Also, flexibility. You can't have a set schedule with dinner at 6 every day with a grad student. There are evening classes, reading groups and countless other things that don't fit on the 9-5 working schedule.
I finished my MBA a few years ago and everyone asks me if it was harder than undergrad. Here's my honest opinion. The work wasn't harder but life was. As an undergrad, you just had to make it to class and make time for homework. As an adult, you have to juggle class, homework, group meetings, extra reading, etc, along with a 40 hour work week, possibly kids, in my case a puppy, and plenty of other adult distractions you didn't have as a 20 year old kid. I'm glad I did it but it is tough. But when you're done, you can appreciate your free time so much more.
My biggest, best best of advice for us geeks (oops, I meant academics) is to try to take turns. John and I are both self-proclaimed school nerds, and after John finishes his Masters he'll go back for a Post Grad. Then I'll finally get my chance to do my PhD, and John may start his DMA while I'm working on my thesis-oh boy! But having John's support, both emotional and financial, while I was doing my Masters was so crucial, and I know it's a huge relief to him that I can take care of all that for him now. Oh, and remember that grad school is a job. Because sometimes I forget that, or tell John to suck it up and stop complaining that his piano teacher is such a pain in the you know what since he goes to music camp, and no one likes that.
On being a grad student: Do your work on time. Work ahead if possible.. This may seem impossible, but make it happen because it will only pile on. Take advantage of skill development sessions put on for free from the grad school. Attend lectures on campus that are also free. In fact, do every free concert, speech, seminar possible because all of those things will cost money when you are no longer a student. Be nice to the people in your classes.
You will see them again. And they may become your boss. Or you could be their boss. Read ahead. Read ahead.
I was myself a law student, and that's where I met my husband! I have to say, it was nice to be in grad school at the same time, to be able to blend our schedules together so well. We would carpool to class and study together at night. It was actually three of the happiest years of my life. Worth it? Yes. I also chose my school very carefully and tried to graduate with as little debt as possible. Those were not big shopping years.
I'm a believer that even though there are some fantastic schools out there no one should get into ridiculous debt to be in this or that school... it's the person that is good not the school!
Support during Grad School is the same that I do now that he is practicing. I make dinner, take care of the house and try to wait at least ten minutes after he gets home before telling him any 'bad news'.
Sure of course it's worth it- following your dreams always is- and student loans are not bad debts.
As an MBA widow, my tip is to try not to take things personally. My hubs is under so much stress with working and going to school full time, so I have to cut him some slack when he's crabby!
Have your own life, because he will certainly have his own. Be supportive - bring him food when he's at the library late studying, don't complain when you don't see him for more than 12 hours in a row (use that time for yourself! Eat a carton of ice cream and smelly food that he hates (sushi for me), watch Notting Hill for the 400th time, enjoy having your dog's attention all to yourself.
I am the wife of an active duty Army Officer and we thought grad school would be a nice 'break' from the regular Army. With a move from east to west coast, a two year old and a 3 month old, we are quickly learning that school is just as much as a job as my husband's normal job. My best advice is to be patient, know that there will be a lot of studying/study groups outside of the school day and hope that the future jobs granted by the master's will make it all worth it. We also chose to move to California for it because we figured it was a great chance to take a temporary adventure!
As a law graduate who had a baby in my second year and was pregnant half my third year, my biggest piece of advice is that no matter what, family is first. Sure, there will be missed dinners here and late study nights there, but when it
REALLY counts, never sacrifice family for school or career. You can't get that back.
Basically, you have to go to school to study what you love and what you feel you can do with your life. If you let the job market or a certain salary level dictate what you want to do, you will not only be frustrated with your job, but you won't even gain any job certainty. The market is always changing and a job that's here and big today might not be when you graduate in four (or so) years. You have to do what you want to do and something you can care about.
... i do know that the best thing dannon did for me when I was in grad school was to give me plenty of space without me having to ask for it. I wanted to spend a lot more time with him than I was able to, so it was really hard for me to ask him to give me the time I needed for school. He was able to recognize my need for more alone time though and told me to take all the time I needed for school during those years. That was such a selfless act and meant the world the me! So my advice would be to step outside of yourself and your desires, and really recognize what your partner needs from you during those busy, stressful grad school years. Don't take it personally if your partner needs to be alone more or needs you to develop more of an independent lifestyle. Instead, give your spouse permission to be a student and remove the stress for them to try to juggle priorities. Delivering flowers or favorite food to their study room once in a while is probably not a bad idea either.
I read Allison's advice and went "Yes! So true!" Allison, do you have a blog? Because I would totally read it!
I think the experience is different for everyone, but I do remember feeling perpetually stupid, as though I should be assembling a puzzle for Ages 5+ and not writing a novel length thesis about Canadian history. All I can say to other grad students is this: you aren't stupid. You are there for a reason, just keep telling yourself that!
- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go to graduate school to delay the "real world" after you finish college. Every person I've encountered that has regretted it for one reason or another. Go because you really need that graduate degree to end up where you want to be in life.- Student loans are not free money. I know it seems like I shouldn't have to say that, but grad school isn't just about the joy of learning. Most programs are very expensive, both in tuition costs and lost income while you're in school (if you aren't working). Is it worth the cost? Will it be worth it in 10 years if you are still paying your loans?
From Friday sunset to Saturday sunset I'd keep the Sabbath(I'm a Seventh-Day Adventist and I go to church on Saturday). I don't work nor study. Taking time out of work and study is very important. Furthermore, church activities help me to pay attention to others instead of my own problems.
Attitude is another thing - since I've made the choice to get married, study, and work, I have to accept whatever that comes a long. I tried not to complain. Whenever I felt overwhelmed I'd pray and read my Bible. In fact, that's the first thing I'd do when I reached my office.
One of the most important things I learned in law school was the importance of time management. My then-fiancee (now husband) and I learned to cut out activities that weren't meaningful or special so that we used our spare time only on things that were important to us. Basically, we figured out that to stay connected to each other we had to make the most of our free time and really make an effort to do things together. Prioritization is key!
And Brandi from Not Your Average Ordinary just graduated with her MA and is my personal hero for teaching me all about her organizational skills.
- Keep a calendar and a to-do list. And use them all the time. Planning your time out will help you feel like you're in control of your life.
- Take time for yourself. It's really easy to find yourself working and thinking about school 24/7, but you need to take time for family and friends and things you enjoy.
- Find days to take off. You'll really need it. Consider it time to recharge and remind yourself why you're on the path you're on.
- (Be) able to walk away if you realize at some point that your path has changed.
Thanks for participating!
The next part of the series is all about LOVE.
The next part of the series is all about LOVE.