How to Be a Graduate School Superstar

How to Be a Graduate School Superstar

Elizabeth Saas,

The key to being a graduate school superstar is involvement. Many people who pursue graduate degrees do not have the luxury of making school their sole focus, so the temptation can be great to stick to the essentials of getting your graduate degree rather than taking advantage of all that your graduate program offers. While it’s true that the demands of post-baccalaureate life are indeed a challenge, not engaging in your graduate program to the fullest extent you can would be a mistake. Regardless of what graduate program you are participating in, much of the graduate school experience takes place beyond the world of classrooms and assignments. Do well in these areas, of course, but also expand your definition of education while in grad school to include as many extracurricular options as you reasonably can. You will probably only go to graduate school this one time — make the most of it.

The Basics: Attendance, Homework, and Class Participation
Some things about school never change, regardless of what level of degree you’re pursuing. The basic requirements of a graduate school superstar include excellent attendance at all of your class meetings. Just like undergrad, your professors probably won’t call you out if you skip class, but just like undergrad, if you don’t go to class, you’re only cheating yourself. To get the most out of your classes, become an expert in time management and make sure you’re well prepared for every meeting. Let your professor know you’re a graduate school superstar by actively participating in every class meeting, too.

Beyond The Basics: Extracurricular Events and Networking
Regardless of what advanced degree you’re pursuing, your graduate program will undoubtedly offer lectures, programs, performances (whatever is applicable to your field), etc., that are optional. Even if you are maintaining a job while you’re getting your master’s or Ph.D., do your best to attend some if not all of these. In addition to attending the scheduled events, graduate school superstars should make every effort to get to know their classmates outside the classroom as well. If you’re pursuing your degree for professional advancement, you might be sitting next to your future coworkers. By getting to know the people with whom you’re studying, you could make important connections that will help you once you take your new degree out into the marketplace. And if you’re pursuing a degree for personal enrichment, what better way is there to deepen your enjoyment and engagement in the field of your choice than by getting to know the people who love it as much as you do and developing a community for yourself that will last perhaps a lifetime?

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