General tips, tricks, and advice for graduate school

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Tips, tricks, and general advice on Surviving Graduate School:

  1. Graduate school is not like being an undergraduate. The classes are longer and the work is more time intensive so two classes really is full time.
  2. Research is most important, so when in doubt choose research over more classes or teaching work.
  3. When working on any research projects always clarify whether or not you will get publication credit.
  4. Learn to prioritize your time. The work your advisor asks you to do should be higher priority than classwork (unless your advisor teaches that class).
  5. Break large projects down into small steps to avoid getting overwhelmed with all the work you have to do.
  6. Take advantage of senior graduate students. They have already gone through everything you will have to go through and they know the best ways to survive it.
  7. Check with senior graduate students about getting class notes from past semesters.
  8. Make friends with other incoming graduate students both in and outside your department. Most incoming students are desperate for friends and you will need people to form study groups and for advice on the various projects you will work on.
  9. Never pass up a free meal - graduate school is expensive and you will be poor for a long time.
  10. If your advisor doesn't put you on research projects right away, ask! Show initiative.
  11. Leave time for play in your schedule or you will burn out quickly.
  12. Be prepared for disappointment. Most papers are rejected the first few times, so don't let it dishearten you.
  13. Whenever you can, get undergraduate research assistants to help run experiments, as it will free up your time to do more important things like: thinking about research ideas, doing analyses, and writing manuscripts. see more research tips on this page
  14. It's never too early to begin looking for a fellowship...especially if being a TA or RA is consuming too much of your time. But choose wisely - the right fellowship is one that not only offers a nice stipend, but also provides you with excellent mentoring and networking opportunities.
  15. There are different sources of financial support available to you, such as fellowships, grants, TA'ships, RA'ships, and etc. so be proactive and find which ones you qualify for ASAP. see a listing of fundings sources on this page.
  16. I would suggest working with multiple professors early in the graduate career to get as much experience and mentorship as possible. With this base of experience, you are then better able to choose which path to take and how to narrow your research focus in later years of graduate school.

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