All Things Melanin
Thinking of Going to Graduate School? Read This First.
This week, I walk across the stage to receive my Master's of Liberal Studies from Southern Methodist University. I'm so excited and thrilled to have reached this point and achieved this milestone, however, it's not something that was accomplished easily. In fact, it's one of the hardest things I've done thus far. Ever since I could remember, even before I received my undergraduate degree, I've wanted to obtain my Master's degree. It's just something about a graduate degree that excited and thrilled me. I remember as I finished up my undergrad degree two years ago, I submitted my paperwork for consideration into the MLS program at SMU. I was nervous and scared of rejection but for me, I knew that I had to take a chance and go for it, so that's what I did. To my delight a few weeks later, I was accepted in. However, I soon found out that grad school was hard, it was hella hard actually. There were so many things about grad school that no one told me or I had to figure out myself. Like ...
1. Sacrifice is Required.
Graduate school is very time consuming. The level of work and time that is required is a lot. From attending class, to staying up to date on readings, assignments, and more, it can quickly become overwhelming. There will be times where you will have to sacrifice time from family, friends, or yourself to stay on top of your assignments. Because the fact of the matter is grad school professors don't care if you have other responsibilities and your job or personal life don't care that you have graduate school work. So you will have to sacrifice time away from doing things you enjoy to stay on top of your work to be a successful grad student. Sometimes finding the balance is hard but it is definitely doable.
2. Time Management is Key.
Twenty-four hours is a lot of time .... until you add grad school in the mix. Grad school takes up a lot of your time, especially if you take more than one course at time. Time can easily get away from you. For me, sometimes my work would pile up and pile up and I would seem to run out of time. What I had to do and figure out is to assign a certain amount of time to work on readings and assignments. When I began to delegate my time, I began to see drastic improvement in my work and my grades.
3. Studying is Required.
I don't know about you but undergrad was pretty low maintenance. Skim through your readings, show up to class, get your participation grade, pass your course work while participating little to none and that's a passing grade. Grad school is quite the opposite. In grad school, you actually have to do the work, the readings and participate every single time. There's no half assing or skipping class. That's not going to work, I tried for a few weeks. (It didn't work so I wouldn't recommend doing that lol) You have to read and study prior to class and after class if you want to be successful in grad school. It's just a MUST.
One thing I found to work for me is skim through the readings prior to class, listen to what the professor spoke about in class and then go back and study/read what he focused on in discussion. I learned the professor will always talk about the most important things in lecture.
4. Commitment & Dedication is Required.
There will be times where you want to quit and throw in the towel, trust me, I know. There will be times where you may not get as good of a grade as you wanted or response, there will be times where you may question your intelligence or why you started. Doubt will enter your mind. However, it takes an extra level of commitment and dedication to stick to it and through it no matter what. You have to think of it like this: If you weren't supposed to be in the program, you wouldn't be. You are smart, intelligent and have what it takes to do this, you got in after all. You just have to stay committed and dedicated throughout the process, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I promise.
5. Personal/Me Time is a MUST.
The one mistake I made was working, working, working without any fun or down time in the beginning of my grad career. I soon found out that all work and no fun can cause you to burn yourself out. It's important to work and stay on top of the things, but you have to take care of yourself also. Make sure you take some time for you to rest or have some fun. You have to take care of yourself first before you can be successful at anything else. Trust me, I know. Set aside two or three days out the month where you dedicate time to yourself to do something to relax and destress you, you'll be glad you did.
Grad school is hard, I'm not going to lie to you. It'll challenge you like never before. But it's one of those things that has the power to separate and push you to the next level.
If graduate school is something that you've been on the fence about or want to do, I encourage you to apply and go for it. It's one of those things that have to do for yourself. You can't do it for momma, daddy, grandpa, grandma or anyone else. You have to do it for yourself because it's you out there putting in the work, not them. So if you've been mulling the idea around in your head, this is confirmation to apply and do it.
Good Luck, I know you can do it!