You are here

How to Prepare for the Semester as a Grad Student

UL Grad School -- 08/20/2019

As a new or returning grad student, you may be feeling any number of emotions as the start of the semester draws closer. Whether you are brimming with excitement to start your research and classes, or are feeling nervous about adjusting to a new schedule (or, most likely, feel somewhere in between!), we have some tips to help make your first week a little easier.

1. Sign up (and show up) for Orientation

Attending orientation is the best way to start off on the right foot. We’ll share tips and best practices for succeeding in grad school through sessions with current students, faculty, and more. The day concludes with a celebration to welcome you into our graduate community. Check out the schedule and sign up.

2. Get to know campus resources

Rely on the support of the Graduate School, but know that there are many campus resources designed to support students -- and not just undergrad students. Even if you’re not looking for a particular kind of service now, getting familiar with campus is a great way to make yourself feel secure and at home at UL Lafayette. Start with this list of student services

3. Make self-care plans

As chaotic as the start of the semester may seem, this is an ideal time to take some time out to strategize about how you plan to manage stress. Take a moment to think about how you react to stress and what helps you relax. Do you feel best when you’re hitting the gym regularly? Prioritizing weekly hangouts with friends? Take a look at our blog on the stress of grad school, and start to identify where you can fit in time to unwind and recharge.

4. Stock your fridge

One of the best ways to care for yourself is by prioritizing delicious, good-for-you meals! Filling up your pantry now will make it easier to follow-through on your home cooking plans. We’re big believers of eating well here at the Graduate School; that’s why we’ve been compiling recipes of cheap eats for our students. Keep an eye out for our #ULGradEats cookbook at Orientation. Plus, we’ve got some excellent tips on shopping and meal planning in our “Eating for Cheap in Grad School” blog. Be sure to join us for Grad Bingo Night, too -- we’ll have groceries and gift cards from our favorite restaurants up for grabs! 

5. Get organized

Whether you are balancing school with work or simply trying to keep track of assignments, graduate school calls for a high level of organization. Our time management tips will get you on the right track. Make sure you review the academic calendar and mark down important dates. Having an online calendar or other system where you can mark down events and deadlines is crucial.

6. Set goals

Hopefully you’re entering grad school with a specific goal in mind; maybe it’s moving forward with a particular career goal or advancing research in your chosen field. Think back to your motivations for returning to school, and create concrete goals. This could mean developing a certain skill, like public speaking, or finding multiple mentors in your discipline to guide your research. Being intentional in your approach to graduate studies will help you get the most out of the time spent with us. 

7. Stay in touch

The Graduate School holds community-building and informative opportunities throughout the year, so stay tuned for our semester calendar of events. Following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is a great way to stay informed. Keep a lookout for news and events from your program, too!