I survived my first semester of graduate school and it feels so good!
Orientation is A LOT to take in and if you have professors like mine they will scare the living daylights out of you.
However, despite the anxiety and fear you will make it through!
First things first, graduate school is stressful. Expect that. Expect to be stressed like you have never been before.
These are my top 10 tips:
1) Be prepared. Be prepared for class, whether thats reading hundreds of pages or memorizing powerpoint slides. Just do it. Be prepared to fail. You WILL fail quizzes and you will not get the grade you anticipated from time to take but guess what? THAT’S OK! Be prepared for criticism. It’s going to make you a better clinician. Lastly, be prepared to grow and change. This is the beginning of a whole new adventure and you will not come out the same person. You’ll finish smarter and stronger.
2)Stay organized. This is important. I found that keeping a binder for each class was helpful. I kept all notes and powerpoint slides in order from when we reviewed them in class and this helped tremendously when studying for exams. Stay organized for clinic as well. Keep your client information safe and prepare for sessions ahead of time. I’ll talk more about first time clinic experiences in my next blog post.
3)Get to know your professors. This is important for so many reasons. If your university has a NSSLHA chapter, go to the meetings (you have the time!). Your professor that runs it appreciates it and the undergraduate students appreciate you. Trust me they do look up to you and have questions so be nice and answer them. If your professors ask for assistance with volunteering at an event, Go! I worked as a graduate assistant (GA) in the clinic library this past semester and I got to know all of my professors on a personal level. I now feel confident that continuing the rest of the program online will not be a challenge for me because my professors know me and I know that I can count on them. Lastly, if you have an opportunity to GA for your program, try it out! It has it perks.
4)Get rest. This may just be the most important one on the list. Don’t compromise your rest or your down time. You deserve it and you need it. Take naps, watch your favorite Netflix show, or enjoy a bubble bath.
5)Make friends and choose them wisely. So if you’re like me you moved far away from everything that you know and into a town where you do not know anyone. It’s tough. Don’t set expectations. The people you least expect to find friendships in will be the ones to be by your side. I say choose friends wisely for one reason. Some friends will unintentionally steer you from being productive, don’t let this happen. Which leads me to my next point.
6) Learn to say no! I am THE WORST at this! But I’ve got to say that this last semester I grew some tough skin. I know I cherish my sleep and I don’t recover well from too much alcohol so I learned to say NO. “No, I’d rather sleep.” “No, I’m in my PJ’s already” “No, I… YOU GET THE POINT! Point is, put yourself first. The fun will always be there.
7)HIPAA. Live it. Breathe it. Sleep it. That’s all I gotta say about that.
8)Celebrate the small victories. My significant other makes fun of me constantly because I am always celebrating something. A good exam grade, nailing a new yoga pose, or just getting through the week. Have that piece or chocolate and glass of wine. Or if you’re like me have that burger and craft beer 🙂 ahahaha
9) Find a reliable study partner for each class. Every class is different and you can always use a study partner. Believe it or not I usually don’t study with close friends. It’s good to have that partner that doesn’t allow for too much off-topic conversation. I find someone that is good in that subject and I stick to them like glue.
10) Work out. One of my professors once said on the first day of class that some days will be really hard. Instead of beating ourselves up over failures, stressing ourselves out to the point of an anxiety attack, or crying. GO FOR A RUN! Everyone can use a gym break. Whether it’s walking on the treadmill, running, HIIT, or yoga. YOU NEED IT!
What I learned along the way: Appreciate where you are. When you get stressed, sad, or overwhelmed, remember someone got a letter saying they did not get in and you got that spot. Be grateful and smile. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s a really pretty one too.
“This too shall pass”
~ SLP Yogi