• Students walking on the Chapman campus near Schmid gate
Graduate Admission

So You Got into Grad School. Now What?

» So You Got into Grad School. Now What?

You wanted to take the next step in your education, and now you’re going to grad school.

And now the question is: how do you get ready? It’s not an easy one to answer. Before you get to grad school, you’ll want to prepare. 

That doesn’t just mean making sure you have all your supplies and have done the required reading. It also means preparing to get the most out of grad school that you can and have the smoothest experience possible.

Here are a few pointers to help you get started.

1. Connect with Your Cohort

Just like undergrad, grad school is all about connections. In fact, connections are probably more important in graduate school. Your classmates will likely share your professional interests and they could become career-long colleagues.

It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget: more people in your network means more people you can rely on to help you when you need it — whether it’s in academics, career, or even just a rough patch or a bad day.

This support is mutual. Having people to rely on means that they’ll be able to rely on you too.

That’s because in grad school, you’ll most likely be placed in a cohort  — a group of students with whom you will take all your classes.

Getting to know your cohort and being an active member of the group will help you in the long run. For example, some reports say that 50–80% or more of jobs are filled via networking alone. It’s never too early to start making those connections, and online groups or your school’s orientation are great places to begin.

Key Takeaway

Before you start grad school, see if your school or program has an official social media page or group for grad students or a grad student association. Some of your classmates may already be connecting there.

2. Understand What You’re in For

Your grad program won’t be a walk in the park, but that’s the point. You get out of it what you put in.

So make sure you understand what your program entails and just how much work you’re going to be putting in.

You can start by looking up your program’s course catalog. It should list every class you need to take to earn your graduate degree. This will help you take a broad mental snapshot of the work you’ll be doing over the next two (or more) years.

Many schools also have advisors and counselors that you can get in touch with before you even start. (Here are our graduate advisors for example.) Meeting with an advisor is another great way to get a clear picture of your program.

Understanding what you’re in for in graduate school before you start will help you immensely, especially when it comes to managing your time as a student.

Key Takeaway

Before you start your program, do some research to get the best understanding of what will be expected of you academically.

3. Find a Time-Management Technique

When you’re a student, time management is one of the most important skills to have.

You already know that. But it’s even more true when it comes to grad school.

Going to class, working, doing research and maybe even squeezing a social life from the grad-school stone are going to keep you busy.

That’s why having a time-management technique that works for you is important.

Time-management techniques can help you get your work done in a reasonable amount of time without burning out.

If you’ve used time-management techniques or software before, great. You already know what you’re doing — keep it up.

If not, try running a quick search for “time management techniques” or “productivity techniques” and dedicate a few minutes to doing some research.

The results may change your life… or at least improve your studying habits.

Here is a quick rundown of some of the more common and useful time-management and productivity methods:

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Key Takeaway

Finding a time-management technique that works for you will help keep you on task and make your grad-school journey that much smoother.

4. Prepare for Your First Day

Psyching yourself up and getting the basics down before you get to grad school are important ways to prepare.

But it’s also important to prepare for actually physically getting there.

Before your first day, try to familiarize yourself with your campus. It’s a good idea to know where to park, where to grab coffee, where to study and where your classes are. That way, you’ll know exactly what to do and where to be once your program starts.

You may even want to try to find the faculty offices and meet some of your professors. It’s never too early to start connecting. Plus, if you introduce yourself early, you will have an easier time asking for help if you need it later.

If you’re going the online route for grad school, explore your online learning portal and learn how to use it. Find out how to perform the tasks that you’ll likely be asked to do on a regular basis, such as:

  • Turning in homework
  • Uploading documents
  • Messaging other students or working in groups
  • Taking tests and quizzes
  • Checking your calendar and class schedule
Key Takeaway

Know your campus (or online learning portal) like the back of your hand to minimize confusion once you actually start.

There’s no doubt about it: grad school is challenging. But you’re (hopefully!) diving headfirst into a field you’re passionate about. That passion will help you swim instead of sink.

And with these tips, you’ll be all the more ready to jump right in.

And remember, you're not alone. Your grad program will have plenty of people who can help you out along the way. That includes professors, program coordinators and the career services office at your school (like ours here at Chapman).

Don’t be shy about reaching out — even before your program begins.

Chapman University is a private university located in Southern California. We offer over 40 graduate degree programs and certificate programs, and we’re committed to helping you get the best education possible. You can contact us at gradadmit@chapman.edu or (714) 997-6711.

Contact Us

Questions? Contact us at:

(714) 997-6711

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