Expectations are rarely reality, and that’s definitely the case when it comes to grad school. Whether you’re just beginning grad school for the first time or are returning after a hiatus, it’s important to have realistic expectations for grad school.
It’ll be harder than you expect.
You might hear this from other students, but it’s hard to explain how hard it will be until you actually get started. Do your best to mentally prepare for the academic “level-up” that is the undergrad-to-grad-school transition. Keep in mind it’s a whole new academic ballgame, but with realistic expectations for graduate school, you’ll be just fine!
You may not be the smartest one in class.
Like the jump from high school to college, you might be in for a bit of a shock. You may no longer be the top student you once were. But that’s okay! If you have smart expectations for grad school, you’ll realize you can learn a ton from your colleagues. Use their different skills and methods to improve yourself and your own performance.
Your organizational skills must “level up” to thrive.
That pile of post-it notes or messy day planner that kept you going in undergrad may not cut it in grad school. Try the Stephen Covey Priority Matrix or apps like iStudiez to stay on track. Organization is imperative to your success in grad school.
Your new friends are also your new colleagues and, perhaps, competitors.
Graduate school will introduce you to a new batch of friends, people you will call colleagues for a lifetime. Your bond will grow during projects and late-night study sessions. Sadly, you may have to compete with them for fellowships, internships, jobs, and conference gigs. But don’t stress— they’ll be your colleagues for years to come. Remember to maintain a professional outlook and keep it all in perspective.
It’s not going to go as planned.
Flexibility is key in the fast-paced, high-pressure world of grad school. When that classmate doesn’t keep up their part of the group presentation, or a deadline sneaks past your ninja planning skills, you’ll need to roll with the punches. If you keep your Gumby skills at the ready, you’ll be ready to thrive in graduate school.