4 Helpful Tips For The New Grad Student

We are about mid-way through the first semester of the year now. It’s getting cold, the leaves are changing, a students are finally beginning to get the hang of school.

As I have been having more conversations with our new students on campus, I thought it might be nice to share some of the advice that I have been giving them as they learn about being in graduate school.

1. Expect and prepare to be busy. If you are known to struggle with managing your time, you will need to break that habit. Even if you got away with last-minute work as an undergrad, your class discussions, papers, and exams are going to be far more involved than they have ever been before. You won’t be able to get away with just winging it. You really need to bring your A-game, which means giving yourself plenty of time. Do. Not. Procrastinate. You are going to be given big and complicated projects. Dragging your feet with your work will just not end well.

2. In line with #1, you need to learn how to prioritize all of the different demands in your life now. From day one there is going to be an enormous amount thrown at you. You will have A LOT of reading, prepping for papers, fieldwork, church work, reflections, etc. This is on top of jobs, family, friends, or whatever you have outside school walls. You need to figure out what is most important to you and commit.

3. I am surprised at how many people come to seminary thinking it will be so easy. Even if you were amazing as an undergraduate, graduate work has a lot more expectations (intellectually, emotionally, and with your time) than undergraduate work. Going into seminary with high expectations for yourself and your work in the best way to approach every situation.

4. Take advantage of all the resources available to you. This does not just mean libraries. Please use your professors and administrators at your school. It is easy to forget that they are there to help you and want to see you succeed almost as much as you do. Additionally, you may need these people to help you with your first job, grant applications, a recommendation, or placement. If they actually know who you are, it really benefits you in the long run.

I think you will constantly be learning what works for you and how to handle the new opportunities in your life. Nevertheless, I hope that these suggestions are helpful to getting you and your work on track in the new school year.