How can you set yourself up for grad school success?
If you’ve chosen your program, that’s the question that now matters most. Before you enroll and start that first graduate school course, you must be prepared for what’s ahead. Many well-intentioned degree seekers start strong but fail to finish. You need a plan that will keep you on track to completion.
The good news is, you can start building that plan right now. And, in turn, you can set yourself up to avoid the things that cause many people to slip up and fail.
The information, warnings, and advice below will give you a tactical guide for success.
1.Stay focused on getting a top grade
Not to belabor the point, but you must be willing to do your best effort if you want to earn a first-class degree.
Students that succeed in earning a first-class honors degree are typically those who regularly give it their all throughout the academic year, rather than merely getting the occasional top grade and hoping to squeak out a few passing grades.
You’ll need to plan ahead, be organized, and constantly attempt to finish your work with plenty of time to spare before the deadline if you want to consistently obtain top grades in university. You’ll also need to work on increasing your productivity.
Even if you believe you do well under pressure, don’t be naive enough to believe that waiting until the last minute would guarantee you a first. Ask yourself how much you really desire this first-class degree if you routinely put off doing your homework till the day of the deadline.
2.Start Assignments Immediately
Assignment due dates could appear far off when a module first begins and that they can be begun later. While some students stay up all night to do assessments that are ultimately neither adequately edited nor proofread, such thinking certainly increases student stress levels. By beginning a task as soon as possible
You will have much more time to gather strong and convincing source material and to analyze your thoughts rigorously. A student who works on their homework at least a little bit each day will probably have plenty of time to check for mistakes, presentation formatting, and missing components like citations and references, and they might find themselves comfortably completed with it a week before the due date.
3. Falling Behind on Their Coursework
Procrastinators will quickly find that the constant, high volume of reading, writing, and research means that falling behind is not an option.
“From day one, you need to think about time management. Make sure in your first classes that you set your time management expectations: learn how often you need to study, for how long, and on what days. Over the long course of your continued studies, the time management habits you develop early on can either make or break you.” George Pomeroy, Graduate Admissions Advisor at Franklin University
Typically, “pulling an all-nighter”—as some do when they get behind in undergraduate studies—won’t be enough to get you caught up.
4. Improve the presentation of your work
It’s not uncommon for students to miss out on a first class honours degree simply because they think presentation doesn’t matter.
It’s vital to have correct spelling, punctuation and grammar in an essay. Unfortunately, a lot of tutors will downgrade you substantially if your presentation’s not up to scratch – no matter how great your ideas are.
Good writing skills help you to convey your ideas effectively and can even make a relatively dull topic sound interesting (which is a feat in itself).
If you struggle with presentation skills when writing essays, it’s not the end of the world. It just means that you need to start your coursework a little bit earlier to leave enough time to thoroughly proofread it later.
Any computer software you’ll be using to write papers will have spell checkers, and these should be able to detect grammatical errors, too. If not, try downloading Grammarly.
Alternatively, email your assignments to a family member or friend and ask them (nicely) to check for any obvious errors.
If you’re particularly worried about your writing skills and think you could do with some additional support, reach out to learning support at your uni – they’re there for a reason! Don’t let something like this get in the way of achieving that first class degree.
5. Participate in Discussions
For many universities, seminars are where concepts and ideas are developed and better understood. Tutors expect students to come to class fully prepared to share their opinions and knowledge about that week’s topics. Seminar-based interactions are where students can learn from their peers, ensure they have properly understood their field of study, and practice life-long conversation skills such as persuasion, negotiation and asking for clarification. By remaining quiet during seminar discussions, you are not taking the opportunity to become a more competent and articulated speaker, nor are you demonstrating to your professors that you are fully engaged with their course.
6. Interrupted by Unplanned Life Events
Of course, graduate school doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Real life always factors in. Sometimes, major life events cause school to take a backburner.
“Perhaps a spouse loses employment. Or a child is hospitalized. Or a parent needs extended care. Any number of things can make life suddenly very difficult. When it happens, students end up feeling trapped between two high-demand worlds.“ George Pomeroy, Graduate Admissions Advisor at Franklin University
This is one advantage to choosing a program with flexible scheduling options. Students can manage their coursework amid challenging life events by taking six or twelve weeks off, and picking right back up where they left off. Or, they can reduce their load to one class for 6 weeks or 12 weeks.