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Surviving and Thriving in Grad School: Crowdsourced Advice from Your Peers

Just a few short weeks into Fall Quarter, the energy level is amped up and the pressures are piling on. We asked current and former UW grad students to give advice to incoming students. We think you’ll find a pearl in these words of peer wisdom.

Go fast, go slow. While it is important in this day and age of finite resources to be efficient in your graduate preparation, it’s also essential to make the most of your graduate experience. With grad school, it really is the process as much as the end result (i.e. the degree).

Get connected.  Finding your people is critical to your success. Look in several places, including outside of your program. Set up regular check-ins with faculty advisors, build a mentoring team (you do not need to rely on just your primary advisor, nor should you), connect with peers, and start building a professional network–inside and outside the University.

Put your learning in context.  Take ownership over your graduate experience, by finding ways to connect your learning with the real world. Volunteer or seek out an internship. Graduate School is just one step in your lifelong learning process.

Be open to surprises.  It is difficult to predict where you will be as you work through your program – your program may change, your goals may change, opportunities may emerge or shut down, and your career may take an unexpected turn. Being flexible and responsive will serve you well.

Take care of yourself.  This is a marathon, not a sprint. Investing in you makes you more productive and efficient in your work, and just generally a better person with your family and friends. There will be crunch times throughout grad school, but it helps to know your go-to strategies for sustaining your energy and clearing your head. This could be exercise, napping, massages, or time with loved ones.  Only you know the activity that resets you and helps you get back to work with fresh energy.

As you identify and use strategies that sustain you, meet with Faculty, Graduate Program Advisors and Coordinators, Peers, and Core Programs in The Graduate School—to encourage, remind, and hold you accountable to your surviving and thriving strategies. We are here for you.

Core Programs thanks all the seasoned UW grad students who helped with crowdsourcing these pearls of wisdom!