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Tips on Adapting to Graduate School

Adapted from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Be aware that you are the one who decided to be in this graduate program. Be happy to know that you will get a chance to have a professional training from the leaders in your chosen field. School might be tough, but one day you will think of that time as the best.

Much of graduate school is about time management. Many faculty assign work that takes three times the amount of in-class time.

Always be professional. For example, call the faculty members who have doctorates as “Dr. Smith” or “Professor Smith.”
This simple rule of professional etiquette also applies to a larger approach: email, phone call, and meeting.

Before asking your professors a question, check for the answer on your instructional website or in your textbook. Give professors time if you expect them to read drafts, request letters of recommendation, etc. Request office appointments well in advance.

Try to be a nice first-year student. Consume all you can in terms of the basic methods and theories. If you go to conferences, just listen and make contacts; do not rush to write and present papers. Focus on the actual work in your first year.

Develop your research skills. When you read a book, take notes constantly and pay attention to what is important.

Do not be afraid to ask if you do not know.

When you go to class, always be prepared with the homework, any questions to ask in the class, new ideas to share, etc.

And if you have even a small paper due in a seminar, always proofread, proofread, and proofread.

Here are some books we recommend when focusing on writing skills:

  • Alive in the Writing by Kirin Narayan (especially for students working ethnographically)
  • the Effective Academic Writing series, by a variety of authors
  • Several Short Sentences About Writing, by Verlyn Klinkenborg
  • How to Proofread Your Own Writing, by Sandie Giles

Enjoy your campus life while you are being serious about your work, and you will have learned how graduate school can prepare you for whatever lies beyond.

Read more in the Chronicle of Higher Education

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