We at Core Programs recognize and respect all the hard work you’ve been doing as graduate students during this winter. We know that Winter quarter can be especially challenging given the weather, the darkness, and the usual stressors of navigating a graduate program. The good news is that the light is returning and the quarter is coming to a close! For this final push, we offer a few strategies. Maybe one or more will serve you:
Saying “Not Right Now”. We know that many of you are balancing personal and family time, school, and work responsibilities, and we encourage you to take a pragmatic look at your schedule for the next few weeks. What can you absolutely hold off on doing for now (that you can then return to later)? What do you absolutely need to make room for? Whom do you need to say no to? With the rhythm of the quarter system, there are time intensive moments where you have to keep your head down and focus. There’s a lot to do, but it will pass by quickly. Then you can once again say “yes” to other things after the quarter is done.
Schedule your needs. Put the most important things you need to accomplish in your calendar, including self-care practices. When it comes to working on those final seminar papers, consider setting aside 30-60 minutes a day to work on a draft versus trying to do it all in one sitting. Writing in smaller chunks will help you feel better knowing that you are making regular progress. Believe it or not, scheduling yourself for 30 minutes of exercise, or connecting with someone important, can make a difference in your overall productivity. So can getting enough sleep! While many people do gain energy from looming deadlines and big pushes of work, suffering isn’t a requirement of graduate school. We just can’t do our best work, if we are constantly in a stressed and exhausted state of mind.
Ask for help. Now is as good a time as any to reach out for help. Do you feel stuck on an individual project and don’t know how to move forward? If you haven’t done so already, connect with peers in your program who are further along in their graduate work. More often than not, they have strategies that worked for them, that you can then try out for yourself. If you are having a hard time finding someone in your department, get a list of peer referrals from your Graduate Program Advisor or a student organization on campus that you relate to. Or maybe you need to reach out to your professor for an extension all together—because life happens. There is no shame in this at all. Asking for what you need is a sign of honest self-assessment and shows you are taking responsibility for yourself. But you have to act fast. Either drop in during your professor’s office hours or send them an email with your extension request, with a reasonable deadline for when you plan to submit your work (this may have to be negotiated depending on your professor’s upcoming schedule). If you’re communicating by e-mail, you can put “Time Sensitive Request” in the subject line and follow up with your professor as needed.
Reward yourself. Make room in your schedule to celebrate yourself for all the work you’ve done—however small or big the milestone. Recognizing your achievements is so important, as no one else will make time in your schedule to do so except for you. When you have many important deadlines at the end of the quarter, consider allowing yourself a small celebration after a project is done–before you turn to the next task or project. Plus, it really allows you to be present with your progress in graduate school. You are doing a ton of work! Go for a walk with a friend. Make yourself a nice dinner. Go dancing (and get to the venue before the cover charge). Take a short dive into Netflix. Schedule a game night in with friends, or 21 other affordable examples of treating yourself.
We love hearing from you! Let us know your strategies for getting through Winter Quarter!
Kelly, Jaye, and Ziyan
Core Programs Team