2016 Graduate Orientation: Incoming Graduate Student Tips
What piece of helpful advice do I have for incoming graduate students that I wish I would have been told: First it would be don’t be afraid to seek self help. You need to make time for yourself. Whether that’s going to the gym, running, eating. Just, anything for yourself you have to go ahead and do it. You should lean on one another. The incoming graduate students and other graduate students in your program are now your colleagues and you should think of them that way. Even if you need to do counseling and go that route. But, always having something Because there’s going to be times when you’re like Why am I here? Why am I doing this to myself? People don’t realize that the time that you spend on graduation education has to come out of other parts of your life. There are going to be times when your partner really wants to go out on Saturday night, and you have that paper that’s due first thing Monday morning… So you kinda have to explain to your family and your friends that you’re going to miss birthdays, you’re going to miss dates, you’re not going to be able to go out as much as you used to, and they’re not going to know if you don’t tell them. Probably the most common problem that I see first year graduate students encounter: They’re thinking: “Well, I’m only taking nine hours in the classroom.” “So I can certainly work 25-30 hours outside.” Graduate level courses- it’s a different ball game than what you experienced as an undergraduate. And no, you really can’t work 25 to 30 hours. Having a faculty mentor there to support you will make your transition from undergrad to Master’s, Master’s to PhD that much easier. You’re going to be in your Master’s program 2 years, PhD, maybe four years, You’re going to need someone to cry to, to laugh with, to bond with. Start the conversation going so that you can get your foot in the door and work with some of the awesome faculty that we have here at UCF. You will miss out on a lot of sleep. Sleep is very very scarce. It’s really important that you meet regularly with your adviser, and that you take his or her advice. It’s easy to sometimes think that it’s not that important to take your adviser’s advice, but it really is. If your program has conferences, you need to go to them. It’s kind of refreshing to be around people who have the same passions that you do. And you come back feeling really refreshed and really motivated to go ahead and accomplish what you’re set out to do. You need to go to the key faculty members that something you’re interested in research. It may not be a paid position, you may have to volunteer, do research with them, but that will assist you in furthering your career goals, and your long-term plans. So faculty feedback on your research and on your writing, is not something that is meant to be harsh or to tear you down as I sometimes hear graduate students say. I think I would like you to think of it in the way that we give it to you which is as a precious gift. And it is a testament really, to how much we are invested in your professionalization, in you becoming a professional in your field. A service I recommend would be using the print lab where you can go and insert your USB and print up to 100 pages. Or we have an upstairs print lab where you can stay for multiple hours and work on assignments. You don’t miss the gym until you’re no longer on campus. Go to the gym while it’s still free. Services specifically to graduate students like the Graduate Student Center, and then Pathways to Success offers great workshops. Whether it’s professional development, library services, things that will help you throughout your thesis or dissertation process. Services particularly from SGA and from Grad Studies. All students are eligible for funding to go to professional conferences both through SGA and Graduate Studies. Please be sure to take advantage of those kinds of resources. It’s really impossible to do this by yourself, and the more help you can get, and the less isolated you make yourself, the better off you’re going to be.