Here are seven “keys” essential to a successful and well-rounded graduate career.
Be proactive – take responsibility for your own grad school experience.
• Think about what you really want from graduate school, and identify opportunities to attain those goals.
• Continue the mental transition from being told what to do, to deciding what to do.
• Don’t wait for faculty members to come to find you. Take the initiative and build relationshipswith faculty in your department.
Participate in the intellectual community of your department and campus.
• Seek input and collaboration from faculty members and your peers – don’t isolate yourself.
• Attend optional seminars and lectures within and beyond your program or department.
• Attend and present at conferences.
• Begin thinking of yourself as a member of your profession and academic field.
Know your program requirements and timelines.
•Comprehensive or qualifying exams
• Research thesis or major project
• Public presentation and/or defense of thesis or project
• Supervisory committee
• Research proposal approval
• Comprehensive exam
• Dissertation completion and defense
Create and follow an annual plan.
• Track your specific program requirements (e.g., courses taken, comprehensives, research, thesis, etc.).
• Schedule meetings with your supervisor and committee.
• Publish articles and produce patents, copyrights, artistic works, performances, designs, etc.
• Attend conferences and make presentations.
• Apply for fellowships, scholarships and research grants.
• Think “next stage” —develop an individual professional development plan for the future.
Establish positive relationships with your supervisor and members of your committee.
• Schedule regular meetings with your entire supervisory committee – at least once a year.
• Have a clear purpose for each meeting, and communicate the agenda in advance to your supervisor / committee.
• Follow up on items discussed in meetings – keep your supervisor informed of your progress and challenges.
• Act as a “junior colleague” – ask questions, advance ideas, show interest and support for shared goals.
Bring a professional approach to your studies and interactions.
• Build key skills: organization, preparedness, collegiality, budgeting.
• Take workshops on teaching;write a grant proposal.
• Mentor an undergraduate researcher.
• Learn about research ethics and scholarly integrity.
Seek balance and support in your life.
• Remember that you have friends and family outside grad school.
• Seek out the many resources on your campus that can help you through the tough times (join a graduate student organization).
• Remember that this will be among the most inspiring and satisfying times in your life.
• And, because your mother isn’t here: Get enough sleep, make time for physical exercise, and eat your veggies!