Monday, September 17, 2018

Grad School Reflections, Summer Semester

It's crazy that I'm already 1/3 of the way through my masters degree at the University of Georgia. Just typing that gave me chills!
grad school lessons

If you haven't read my "what's next" post that I published before I graduated, I am currently working towards earning a Master of Market Research degree at UGA. My program is a year long and is focused on preparing us to jump into the industry as soon as we graduate. I started in June, 3 weeks after graduating with my Bachelors (!!!!), and finished the first semester in July. My cohort took 10.5 credit hours in what ended up being about 6 weeks. I have never experienced a more hectic summer! I'm now a month into my fall semester and things are flying so I wanted to take the time to document my first semester.

// Change is HARD //

I experienced more changes in the course of a month than I had probably since moving to college four years ago, if not more. I moved, graduated (yes I moved before graduating), went home, came back, got settled, dealt with a whole host of apartment issues, and started school. While most people don't experience this much this quickly while transitioning to grad school, it's still a big change. I felt the most adult I ever had, but also like a scared freshman all over again. I'm "off the payroll" for the first time in my life and having to pay bills and manage finances, but I was (read as: still am) getting lost and turned around on campus. 

// Self care is ESSENTIAL // 

It's easy to get burned out in undergrad, but I experienced burn out so much faster during my first semester. Now this is in a large part due to the fact that I did not have much time to recover from the burnout of my last semester of undergrad, but no matter how long you have before starting, grad school is crazy demanding. There is always something you should be doing - reading, getting ahead, etc. I had to work really hard to prioritize taking care of myself, instead of trying to have it all together.

// It's OKAY to Ask for Help //

Asking for help has never, ever been something I have been good at. I'm fiercely independent and stubborn and hate looking weak or incompetent. What a combination right? 9 times out of 10 I will choose to suffer in silence just to prove to myself that I can. But that's not healthy or sustainable. This summer I hit a breaking point and finally asked for help. Whether it's in school or personal life, it's never easy. But it is so, so necessary. And I am very thankful that I got over myself in order to ask.

// Comparison Kills //

We've all heard that comparison is the thief of joy, but it's also a huge cause of unnecessary worry and stress. I have a very small cohort and everyone is brilliant and amazing. I very quickly fell down the rabbit hole of comparing myself to everyone else. So and so spent hours on this assignment and I didn't. I probably screwed it up and am going to get a bad grade. They present so well, I'm a terrible public speaker, this is going to be awful. They're also so qualified, I have no experience, what the heck am I doing here? These are a tiny sampling of the negative self talk I experienced this summer. In such a small group, comparison is a very easy trap to get into. I am still struggling with it, but have gotten a little better at realizing that I have my own strengths that others don't and they have strengths that I don't, and that's okay.

// Offer Assistance Whenever Possible //

This sort of builds on my last two points. Everyone needs help sometimes and we all have different strengths, so it's important to offer to help. I am very thankful for classmates who helped me before I realized I needed it and I have tried to return the favor for others. I am going into a very small industry, so the connections I form this year are going to be important for the rest of my career. Just as I want to be able to take help from others, I want to be able to offer it as well.

// Slow Mornings are Everything //

I got into a great morning routine over the summer, though I have fallen out of it some this fall. I would wake up and immediately open my Bible and devotional. It was such a great way to build my day on what is important. From there I would make my bed, make coffee and breakfast, and take my time getting ready. Starting off relaxed in the morning was so much better for me than when I was frantically running around like a crazy person during my last semester of undergrad.

These are a few things that I learned during my first semester of grad school, I hope you enjoyed reading them. I'm going to try to do a better job of keeping updates of grad school on here. Do you have any advice for surviving grad school or post grad? I'd love to hear it!