Once you’ve been accepted to graduate school, you might think it’s time to relax and that you can approach grad school like you did your undergrad college. However, grad school is vastly different from your previous college experience. You’re studying something much more specialized and are in an even more competitive program. You’ll have to work harder and produce higher level work in order to excel in your grad program. It’s important to remember that grad school is a much more professional environment than undergrad; you’re entirely focused on progressing your career and have a narrowed view of what you want to study. This focus doesn’t mean that grad school can’t be fun, it just mean you need to prepare for it differently than you did undergrad.
Since grad school is all about getting ready for the future, take time to network before and during it. Attend local networking events over the summer and take advantage of any opportunities to connect with people from your school. The sooner you get to know professors and fellow students, the better.
Learn about the school
Once you’ve chosen your grad school, take the time to learn more about it. What’s the town or area around it like? How’s the campus? What are the classes and professors like there? Try to find current students to talk to or blogs to read. It’s never too early to start thinking about what classes you’d like to take or what organizations you’ll get involved with.
Choose where you’ll live
Some grad schools do not offer on-campus housing so it’s up to you to find your own place to stay while in school. Others do offer housing, but it’s often your responsibility to seek out your options and decide where to stay. The last thing you want is to show up on the first day with nowhere to stay.
Increase your knowledge
Before getting to grad school, it’s beneficial to increase your knowledge of the subject you’ll be studying and any other areas that could be useful. Take time to catch up with recent news and developments in your chosen field of study. Refresh yourself on the basics and do some research to find out if there’s any material you should know that you haven’t previously studied.
In addition to being prepared as far as your studies go, making sure you’re practically prepared is important too. Once you decide where you’re living, do you have all the essentials you’ll need for your new home? Do you have clothes that are appropriate for the climate? Are all of your papers in order? Make a list of everything you’ll need and tasks you to complete before starting grad school to be sure you don’t forget anything important.
Create some goals
Finally, set aside time to create a few goals for yourself. You’re entering grad school and need to have a plan for what you’ll do these years and afterwards. Are there specific internships you’d like to apply for? What do you want your career to look like once you’re done with school? Setting long-term goals helps you stay focused and organized during grad school.