4 Questions Every New Graduate Student Has

April 27, 2017
Tori Owens

Here are 4 things all soon-to-be graduate students wonder about.

What should you expect when starting grad school?

With graduation and summer on the horizon, grad school-bound seniors and other aspiring advanced degree-earners have a lot on their minds. “What will graduate school be like?” and “Am I prepared?” are some of the questions that may be running through your head if you’re attending an MA or PhD program this fall. With these thoughts come feelings of nervousness mixed with excitement: Graduate student life is just around the corner.

Here are four things soon-to-be graduate students often wonder about—along with some helpful info to shed light on the mystery of the first day.

How difficult is my program going to be?

Many grad school-bound students wonder about the rigor of their program and what their classes and professors will be like. Imagining that one’s graduate school courses will be difficult to keep up with and not knowing how to seek help in such situations does not have to be intimidating.

It’s important to realize that graduate schools provide their students with a ton of resources to succeed—from fellow classmates to professors and counselors. Take note of the specific resources your program has on campus and reach out to professors and alumni during the summer before classes begin to get a head start on your studies.

How can I manage my finances as a graduate student?

One of the biggest wonders heading into graduate school is how to best keep track of one’s finances throughout the duration of your program. Securing a part-time job if you’re attending graduate school full-time is a great way to ensure a steady income, and many opportunities for college students can be found virtually.

Former students of the program and financial counselors are also good resources for advice on how to budget appropriately for graduate student life. They can often provide insight into what exactly you’ll need to budget for apart from tuition costs, including textbooks and groceries.

Should I leave my job for the duration of the program?

If you’re heading into a full-time graduate program, it can be worrisome to think about putting off or leaving your full-time job for the next one, two, or maybe three years. However, as you’ll probably hear many employers and alumni say, the payout is worth it in the end: having an advanced degree will only make you a more competitive job candidate when it comes time to applying for full-time positions.

Graduate school allows you to master skills in a specific area. Those skills are often directly transferrable to the field in which you hope to enter or can be leveraged to help you advance in your current field.

How do I make the most of my grad school experience?

While preparing to start a graduate program, you may wonder about all of the opportunities the school has to offer and how you can be sure to experience everything on campus. To get the most value out of your graduate school experience, make it a priority to spend time on campus, attend all those extracurricular events, and network with professionals, alumni, and professors.

One way to ensure you don’t miss out on the action is to plan and research. Before your program starts, make a bucket list of everything you hope to experience and accomplish during your time in graduate school. Then check those things off as you progress through the program.

Are you an aspiring grad student? Lock in a winning GRE score with our free prep resources.

Tori Owens Tori Owens is currently a senior at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, majoring in communication studies with a double minor in journalism and business administration. After graduation this coming May, she is looking to head straight to graduate school and receive her Master's degree in journalism and communications. When she isn't writing (which is hardly ever), she enjoys delving into a good television drama series or scrolling through fashion art and interior design boards on Pinterest. Have a particular idea or topic you’d like Tori’s insights on? Message her on Instagram @tbussss.

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