Becoming a grad student is not an easy decision. The cost and time commitment alone can be a tough pill to swallow. While graduate school has its ups, downs, and everything in between, there are a few valuable life lessons I’ve learned outside the classroom that certainly make it all worth it.
How to be (genuinely) productive
I’ve always considered myself a master of time management, but grad school took that skill to a whole new level. Taking classes full time, working, having a graduate assistantship AND an internship all at the same time probably sounds like a nightmare. But as a grad student, that’s reality. With a jam packed schedule, you quickly figure out that the “study for five minutes, check social media for ten minutes” method is no longer a viable option. What you do learn, however, is the value of a block of free time. That block of time may be before the sun comes up, but it definitely does exist.
The power of a good cup of coffee
To all the coffee shop employees within a 3 mile radius of campus: this one’s for you. Special thanks for never judging me, even when I stumble in with disheveled hair and my eyes glazed over from exhaustion. I’m not sure how I made it through the first 23 years of my life without needing this magical drink, but now that I’ve converted, I am never going back. When the thought of going to a three hour class after a full day of work seems unbearable, I savor every last drop of that medium sized cup of goodness. I can enjoy class… and maybe even run a 5k afterward.
The importance of a quality pair of shoes
It sounds strange but hear me out. Have you ever worn an uncomfortable pair of shoes? You know, the ones that usually go with every outfit, but you haven’t quite worn them enough to break them in yet? Imagine climbing a mountain in those shoes! Okay, that might be a stretch. But if you’ve ever lived through a 12+ hour day in a tight pair of shoes, you know the feeling I’m talking about. Save yourself (and your toes) the frustration, I promise it will be worth it.
What it means to be really, truly, proud of yourself
How many times a week (or a day, if we’re being honest) do you want to give up? Throw in the towel, completely call it quits? For a grad student, it’s probably more than you think. But, on the flip side, think about all of those small feats that contribute to the bigger picture. All of those Mondays that approach where you feel like you can barely stay afloat. Then, all of those Fridays that come around and you realize you’ve made it through another week. Every chapter read, every paper turned in, every internship hour complete. All of these moments add up to one amazing, fulfilling, enriching experience that you’ll carry with you through your career. So go ahead- pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Conor McLaughlin On Life Work Balances Podcast & Lessons Learned from Over a Hundred SA Pros