Written by Sajag Subedi (above left)
MBA expected May 2020.
Adjusting to life as a full-time graduate student can be overwhelming. You’re at a new school, meeting new professors, living away from home – sometimes thousands of miles away! – and trying to get all of your course work done. As I head into my final semester as an MBA student at Clark University, I want to share some important tips for surviving and thriving as a graduate student.
Refine your study habits.
Courses in graduate school require a lot of reading. It can be overwhelming to comprehend and understand the content when you’re tasked with reading several hundred pages in a week. Make notes and highlight important sections to use for future reference. Pace yourself but work consistently until you’re finished. You’ll learn quickly how to manage your time, effort and endurance.
Stay mentally “fit.”
Being incredibly busy can be exhausting physically and mentally for even the most organized and efficient students. The Clark community genuinely cares for and supports its students. Find someone – a professor, staff member, or peer – to talk to. Or, find a hobby or activity that contributes to better physical or mental health.
Establish a good rapport with your faculty members and adviser.
Though it sounds like an obvious task, only some students genuinely put effort into establishing a good rapport with their adviser and professors. Your adviser can assist you with your courses, program requirements, or send you to the right person who can assist. Faculty will also assist with any course-related queries, and by establishing a good relationship with them, you can feel comfortable requesting letters of recommendation for jobs or internships.
Plan well financially.
Graduate school can be costly, especially for students with limited financial assistance. If you have a federal loan, paying off the interest in a timely manner is a good idea. There also might be unique tax breaks you could use. Keep an eye on some of the popular ones in the United States, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, Tuition and Fees Deduction, and Student Loan Interest Tax Deduction. Lastly, try to stick to a budget and minimize expenses when possible. You can make some extra money if you are able to work as a graduate assistant or teaching assistant – another good reason to establish positive relationships with staff and faculty!
Don't forget to experience the fun!
Amidst everything, make time to relax and enjoy your friends and peers. Clark is full of diverse and interesting people. Broaden your horizons and join them in the extracurricular activities the school offers! You will be incredibly busy, but there is “a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Believe in yourself.
Making mistakes and errors are part of learning in graduate school. Know that it is ok to make mistakes and reflect upon things you've overcome and accomplished. Set goals and keep track of your progress. Don't get down when things aren't exactly going according to plan. There will be times you will have to overcome challenges, but with consistent determination, belief, and hard work, you’ll be fine.
Sajag Subedi is a second-year MBA student, concentrating in information management and business analytics, in the Graduate School of Management at Clark University. He will complete his degree in May 2020 and plans to work in sales or consulting.