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7 Things to Research When Applying to Grad School

A common trap students often fall into when applying to graduate school is insufficient background research! Given the pricey and time-consuming nature of most graduate degrees, you really owe it to yourself to make an informed and carefully thought-out decision when choosing a course and putting together your application. Get started with our list of seven key areas to research when applying to grad school.

1. Career prospects

For many, a graduate degree is also an opportunity to develop the expertise and connections required to kick-start a career, move up a level, or enter a new field. Save yourself time in the long run by pausing to consider all your options. What matters to you the most? Income? Flexibility?  Job security? What are your interests? What would your dream job be? What would your ideal employment prospects and earning potential look like? You might actually find that while you completed a bachelor of arts in film studies, you actually – deep down – really aspire to become an environmental journalist or a lobbyist. Which graduate degree would help you get there?

2. The faculty

This can’t be stressed enough. Researching the faculty and looking up some of the research published by key figures in the department could help you figure out whether a university is right for you, and also help you win over the admissions officers in your personal statement and interview.  While universities are expected to remain wholly neutral and academic, different departments do favor different methodologies, theoretical frameworks and perspectives on their fields. They also have different areas of focus, reflected in the expertise of faculty members. When researching grad schools, make sure you choose a department well-matched to your academic and professional interests.

3. Facilities

Depending on your research project and discipline, you might need to have access to various pieces of technology or special library collections. Researching the facilities will help you decide whether to pick school X over school Y, as well as making a convincing case in your application. When applying to grad school, it’s absolutely crucial that you sound as specific and focused as possible, and referring to specialized facilities will help you achieve this.

4. Location

You need to be in the right frame of mind to tackle all of the challenges academia throws at you. Ensuring that you pick the best city for your graduate degree – a place propitious to work, play, affordable living and job hunting – will go a long way toward helping you secure happiness and perform your very best! You might want to take a look at the QS Best Student Cities 2016, which ranks the world’s best student cities based on a mix of factors:  employer activity, affordability, desirability, student mix, and university rankings.

5. Fees & funding

Tuition fees and funding opportunities vary greatly by country. Some countries, such as Germany or Sweden, offer free tuition; while other study destinations, such as the UK or the US, charge hefty fees for their world-renowned programs – in some cases offset by full tuition waivers, scholarships and assistantships for a select number of students. So before applying to graduate school, make sure that you can afford it and that you’ve got a fool-proof funding action plan. You don’t want to find yourself unable to complete your degree because you’ve run out of money!

6. Course structure

Each university will implement its own course structure and reading list, and one course structure may be better aligned with your interests. Take a look at the syllabus outlined online in the course description. It might be worth shooting off an email to the course leader or other faculty members, to get a better sense of the course’s theoretical framework and overall structure.

7. Teaching and assessment methods

Some graduate degrees are mostly taught, leading up to an end-of-course research project, while others have a strong focus on independent research from the outset. You need to figure out which teaching and assessment methods work better for you. Do you need regular contact hours with a supervisor and peers, or are you a lone wolf/independent researcher? Would you prefer more hours in class amongst your peers? What about assessment methods? Are you a confident test-taker or do you thrive on coursework?

Get personal answers to your questions about grad school

If you’re keen to get more personal advice before applying to grad school, look out for the QS World Grad School Tour – coming soon to a city near you. This is a chance to meeting representatives of grad schools from around the world, attend free seminars, and get all your questions answered in one place. You’ll also be eligible to apply for exclusive graduate scholarships.

Source: https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/admissions-advice/7-things-research-when-applying-grad-school

Graduate School Life | What to Expect

There are many ways in which graduate school life varies from the undergraduate experience. Even if you’re jumping into continuing education right after college, the lifestyle changes in particular can be very pronounced—affecting everything from time management and employment opportunities to day-to-day schedules and financial considerations.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect in graduate school, and the changes (outside of the classroom) you should anticipate once you’re enrolled.

Grad school will take up a lot of your time

Whether you’re pursuing your master’s degree full time or part time, graduate school life will put your scheduling skills to the test. Although you may have fewer classes per semester than you did as an undergraduate, your course load will be significantly more demanding. From reading and writing assignments to potential research and field work, the bulk of your activity will take place outside the classroom—leaving you with far less free time than you might be used to.

If you have children, are in a relationship, or have other personal commitments, you should expect grad school to affect your usual routines and responsibilities in that realm as well.

When preparing to enroll, be sure to do the following:

  • Check items off your to-do list (before school begins). If you have any big extracurricular projects or plans that are still in progress, do your best to finish them before school starts. It will be much more difficult after you’ve started your studies, and getting these items out of the way will allow you to focus more closely on your work.
  • Create a workable schedule for ongoing tasks. Even after clearing your plate, you may still have plenty of responsibilities to juggle. Make a list of all of your recurring commitments and put together a timetable that works for you (and that allows for plenty of study time!). Listing and prioritizing agenda items will help you eliminate things you can’t handle during school, and keep you on top of the things you can.
  • Ask friends, family, and co-workers for support. Whether you’re navigating childcare, making time for your significant other, or other personal considerations, developing a healthy support system is critical to managing your responsibilities and stress levels during school. Reach out to people you trust early, and see how they may be able to help you balance the demands of graduate education with your other commitments.

Balancing graduate school life and work will take effort

Pursuing a master’s degree can feel like a full-time job, but depending on your situation you may also need to actually work while studying. This introduces challenges to managing not just your time, but also your energy.

The need to simultaneously perform at work and at school can create competing tensions (especially if you have a demanding job), and adjusting to these tensions is key to a successful continuing education. Here are a few tips if you’re planning on working while studying:

  • Discuss your grad school plans with your employer. Tell them what you hope to achieve, what your schedule is going to look like, and how your goals relate to your position at the organization. This will allow you to work together to set reasonable expectations and, depending on what you’re studying, discuss what sort of support your employer might be willing to provide.
  • Budget more time for yourself than you think you need. It can be difficult to know just how intense the work-school balancing act will be until you’re in the middle of it. As you transition into graduate school life, work with your employer to set generous deadlines and ease into accepting new projects so you can avoid burnout and work anxiety.
  • Remember the benefits of working while studying. Pursuing a master’s degree while working is definitely a challenge, but it yields myriad benefits, from networking opportunities after graduation to potential advancement in your current organization. It’s also a chance to apply your current skills and experience to your grad school work, which will help you thrive in class and make you an asset to your graduate program.

Graduate school will affect your finances

Whether or not you’re working during school, continuing education will have an impact on your financial situation—and you’ll likely need to make changes to your spending habits while enrolled. Here are a few things you should do as you prepare for these adjustments:

  • Consider your financial readiness before applying. Keep in mind not just the costs of tuition, but also of things like housing, books, supplies, and administrative fees. Also make note of any long-term financial plans you may have (such as buying a house), as graduate school will likely take priority over some of those goals.
  • Conduct thorough research into financial aidBeyond the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), there’s plenty of potential assistance out there for aspiring graduate students—including scholarships, student loans, and grants specific to your area of study. Be aware of all your options, and submit applications for aid early.
  • Save up before school starts, and cut costs wherever possible. Particularly if you aren’t planning on working during grad school, it’s a smart move to give yourself a financial cushion before you begin studying. This could mean doing odd jobs, putting in more hours at work, or cutting down on unnecessary spending.

In many ways, graduate school life will be different than what you’re used to—and while there are certainly going to be some challenges, it’s important to also keep the positives in mind, too. Continuing education will deepen your knowledge and expertise in your chosen field, give you the chance to connect and network with new people, and open you up to advancement opportunities in your career. It requires a lot of planning and sacrifice, but if you take care to prepare, graduate school can change your life for the better.

Source: https://www.idealist.org/grad-schools/blog/grad-school-lifestyle-changes

How to Pay for Grad School: 5 Strategies for Students

Getting an advanced or professional degree can be full of challenges. One of the toughest arrives before you even take a class: figuring out how to pay for graduate school.

You can finance your education with graduate student loans. But before taking on debt, use these strategies to reduce or eliminate how much you need to borrow.

1. Earn fellowships, scholarships and grants

Fellowships, scholarships and grants are the best ways to pay for grad school because you typically don’t repay them. However, you do need to earn this financial aid — for graduate school, free money is usually based on academic merit, not financial need.

Universities may offer fellowships to get you to choose their programs, or you can apply with a private organization or the federal government for a “portable” fellowship. For example, the Department of Defense offers a three-year fellowship for selected science and engineering students that covers tuition and fees at the recipient’s school of choice.

Look for fellowships on the websites of government agencies or professional organizations, like the American Historical Association, or use a fellowship-specific search engine like ProFellow.

While fellowships are the type of free aid most closely associated with graduate school, traditional scholarships are available as well. These will likely be tied to your specific degree — for example, law school scholarships or pharmacy school scholarships.

2. Use a portion of your paycheck

When reviewing graduate financial aid, it can be easy to confuse fellowships and assistantships. Both let you earn money by working at your school, but assistantships are more like federal work-study.

Graduate assistantships are typically teaching and research jobs for which you’ll be paid a salary or stipend. Graduate teaching assistants earn an average of $36,390 annually, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ideally, you can use some of that money to pay for grad school. Practically, that may be difficult, especially if that stipend is your entire income. Working on the side may help cover your living expenses — just make sure you can balance that job with your other responsibilities.

3. Get help from your employer

Many graduate students don’t enroll right after getting their undergraduate degree. If you’re already working, see if your employer offers tuition assistance.

Employers can provide up to $5,250 tax-free annually to help with college costs. Some may opt to pay more. For example, global consulting firm Deloitte offers full tuition reimbursement to help pay for business school. Discounted tuition may also be available if you or an eligible family member work for a university.

If you use employer assistance to pay for grad school, ask your human resources team about any conditions associated with the funding. For example, you may have to agree to stay with the company for a set amount of time after earning your degree.

To use employer assistance, you’ll likely need to enroll part time while continuing to work. Forty-three percent of graduate students enroll part time, according to a 2017 report from Sallie Mae. Think about how an extended timeline will align with your long-term career goals.

4. Plan ahead to pay for graduate school

If you’re already collecting a paycheck, put money aside for grad school as part of your overall savings plan. Prioritize long-term financial goals first, like building an emergency fund then saving for retirement before adding to your grad school fund.

If you’re still an undergraduate but know an advanced degree is in your future, find out how much you can expect to pay for graduate school.

For example, the average graduate student debt was $71,000 in 2015-16, according to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics. But specific professional degrees can be much more expensive — the average veterinarian debt is $183,014, for instance.

By limiting your undergraduate borrowing or other expenses, you can keep your total debt for your education manageable once you’re in repayment.

5. Cover any remaining gaps with loans

Once you’ve exhausted the previous options, you can turn to federal or private student loans to pay for grad school. Federal student loans will be best for most students; those loans offer benefits like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs that private options lack.

You can take out up to $20,500 annually in unsubsidized federal loans; subsidized loans for graduate school aren’t available. If that’s not enough to cover your remaining grad school costs, you can take out up to your cost of attendance (minus other aid received) in federal graduate PLUS loans or private loans.

Private loans may make sense if you won’t use federal benefits and have excellent credit — or a co-signer who does. Compare the interest rate you’d qualify for to what PLUS loans offer. Keep in mind that PLUS loans also come with an origination fee that most private lenders don’t charge.

You typically don’t have to pay student loans during graduate school if you’re enrolled at least half-time. But interest will accrue on all graduate student loans, increasing the amount you owe.

Source: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/student-loans/ask-brianna-paying-graduate-school

TOP 10 COLLEGE ADMISSION TIPS FROM A PRIVATE COUNSELOR

The college admission experience involves plenty of variables and unknowns, which is why it can be helpful to have a counselor advising you through each phase of the process. Unfortunately, not all students have access to a counselor through every phase. That’s why I’ve put together this list of tips based on the work I have done with high school and college students for the past decade.

If I had to pick the 10 best pieces of advice to share with any high schooler before they embark on this proverbial journey, here’s what I’d share with them.

1. TAKE YOUR COLLEGE RESEARCH SERIOUSLY

The time and research you commit to finding your college fit is an invaluable part of the process. As you do your college research and begin to develop your college list, write down two or three specific things you think you want or do not want in a college, such as big campus vs. small, close to or far from home, liberal arts vs schools that specialize in certain subjects. This will help you narrow down what’s important to you, what to look out for when finalizing your college list, and will help form questions you may want to ask admissions officers. Also, the more specific and detailed you are, the easier it’ll be to write those supplemental essays when the time comes. If/when colleges ask you, “Why Us?” you won’t have to start thinking from scratch. If you’re looking for some tips on how to structure and conduct your college research, these two resources from CollegeData are a great starting point: How To Start Your College List and Mining for Gold on College Websites.

2. TAKE UNIQUE APPROACHES TO CAMPUS VISITS

In-person visit experiences like open houses, tours, and information sessions can help you figure out if a school has what you’re looking for. However, it’s sometimes hard to find out what it feels like to be a student there because you’re walking around in a group of people, and usually one or both of your parents. The next time you visit a college campus, bring a backpack, and walk around by yourself for 20-30 minutes after your official visit with the admissions office and/or tour guide is complete.

Without a tour group and your parents by your side, you may look and feel like more of a college student. Take this time to head over to the campus store or get a bite to eat and observe what the vibe is like on campus. Exploring a campus on your own might give you a glimpse of what life could feel like as an enrolled student there.

3. YOUR TEST SCORE ISN’T A LIFE-OR-DEATH SITUATION

It’s easy to attach your worth to what you scored on the SAT or ACT. Compass Prep’s Guide to Admission Testing lists standardized tests as only the third-most important aspect of admissions. That was before the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the testing landscape with many schools now no longer requiring them. The SAT or ACT is a test that’s taken one Saturday morning during high school. Your score and even whether or not you take the test doesn’t necessarily determine whether you can accomplish your goals in college or be successful after you graduate. The classes you take and the grades you earn as well as the activities you are involved in may end up being more important.

4. DON’T WAIT UNTIL DEADLINE DAY TO SUBMIT APPLICATIONS

A good college counselor will work hard to help students submit applications prior to the actual day of the deadline, and for good reason. Every year, we hear about technical glitches with various application platforms around major deadline dates because so many people are trying to submit applications at the same time. Colleges sometimes extend deadlines because of these issues, but not all the time. Don’t run the risk of not submitting an application that’s already complete because the website isn’t working properly. If you experience technical difficulties when submitting your application, make sure you contact the admissions office immediately and inquire about alternative methods for submitting your application.

5. KNOW THE ADMISSION POLICIES OF THE SCHOOLS ON YOUR LIST AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE

Rolling admissions is great because the earlier you apply to a college, the earlier you’ll get a decision in your hands. If there are schools on your list that have rolling admissions, try and submit your application by Labor Day weekend. You will likely have a decision in your hands before November 1 and before some Early Action deadlines. Having an acceptance in your back pocket early in the fall is a huge confidence boost and can relieve some stress.

6. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS

This seems like a simple concept, but during a stressful process, such as completing college applications, directions can be overlooked or misunderstood. Whether it’s adhering to a word count limit on your essays, submitting documents by a certain deadline, or providing the admission office with specific information, follow all directions that are stated in the application. It’ll make the lives of admission officers easier, especially since they process, read, and make decisions for thousands of applicants every year. Also, mistakes or missing information in your application can impact admissions decisions, so do your best to make sure your submissions are accurate, complete, and on time.

7. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT COLLEGE

You might feel a lot of pressure to try to find the “perfect fit” school. However, there are multiple schools you can love and thrive at. A colleague of mine recently shared an excellent analogy — when you put on a pair of jeans for the first time, it may feel a little stiff. It takes some time for the jeans to mold to you and for you to get comfortable wearing them. The same is true for life at college. Whether you attend your top school or the last safety school on your list, it may take time to adjust.

8. DECISIONS DON’T DEFINE YOU

College admissions can feel like a deeply personal process. Nobody enjoys getting denied from a school after putting so much work into an application and working hard throughout high school. Did you get into your dream school? That’s awesome! But that’s only the beginning of the journey — you still must attend that college and do the work necessary to earn a diploma.

Didn’t get into your dream school? That’s okay — your worth isn’t measured by admissions decisions. What you do while you’re on a college campus may be more important than where you do it.

9. STAY IN YOUR LANE

There is a lot of talk in the high school community about “Jane and Johnny” and their GPA and test scores and XYZ factor that got them into X university. That talk is often just that — talk without any factual basis. Do your best to tune out the opinions and conjecture. Focus on your own path. You’re the one who will be going to college — not your friends, family, significant other, or any other influential person in your life. Be sure to listen to the advice of your parents, counselors, and mentors but remember to also pay attention to your own feelings and goals, as well.

10. IT TAKES A VILLAGE, SO BE GRATEFUL

It’s the job of school counselors and the other professionals in the counseling office to send your application materials (like your official transcript) to colleges, but they’re constantly overwhelmed with requests each fall. Your parents are probably excited to visit colleges with you, but it takes time and money to make it happen. Your teachers aren’t required to write your letters of recommendation, but they enjoy helping you achieve your dreams. Be sure to stop and say thank you to everyone who has helped you along the way.

There will be times when this process feels stressful — that’s just the way it is, especially in the fall of senior year. However, applying to college can also be fun. Who doesn’t want to visualize and imagine what their immediate and long-term future could look like? Be serious when it’s necessary, but also enjoy yourself when you’re able to — because it may lead to one of the most exciting times of your life!

Source: https://www.collegedata.com/resources/getting-in/top-10-college-admission-tips-from-a-private-counselor

10 Tips for Exploring Your College Town

Moving to a new town for college can be both scary and exciting. Although you’re moving away from everything that is familiar to you, you also get to meet so many people and try new things. We’ve compiled some tips so you’ll be all set to explore your college town so that you’ll soon feel it’s your home away from home!

1. Don’t be afraid to try new restaurants

Wherever you choose to go for college, there are most likely a plethora of restaurants around your campus. Whether it’s fast food or a sit down restaurant, it’s the perfect place to go hang out with your friends and eat something besides dining hall food—which after awhile can get pretty repetitive. If your new roommate wants to try Thai food but you’ve never had it before, say yes! Trying new foods in college is a great way to expand your horizons and who knows? Maybe you’ll find your new favorite food!

2. Take a walk in local parks around town

Depending where you go to school, your town will probably have some parks nearby and even some hiking trails. Take some time on the weekend and take a peaceful walk, away from all the stress from your classes. If you own a bike, grab your bike and head to local trails. Some schools also have bikes that you could rent. If you live in a college city there are often bike companies around that have stations where you can rent a bike for a couple hours. If you’re going to school far away from home, you may be surprised by the vastly different landscapes all across the U.S. – take this opportunity to go explore it!

3. Become friends with an upperclassman

Often times, the clubs and organizations you join at school will help you meet students from all different grades. Upperclassmen have been where you are right now. They know the ins and outs of required classes, how to live with a roommate and all the cool places to go around town. Often times upperclassmen have cars on campus and might even be willing to show you around. If you’re having trouble meeting someone whose a bit older, you can also talk to your resident assistant who is a great resource.

4. Check out bulletin boards around campus

Make sure you take a look at the bulletin boards hanging up around campus. A lot of times, you can find them in your dorm, in the student center and scattered around academic buildings. Clubs and organizations often host events that are held off campus and is a great way to get to know other people and get off campus and explore your college town. If you’re nervous to go on an outing with people you don’t know, ask your roommate or a friend from class to join!

5. Take public transportation or a shuttle

Some colleges offer transportation for students provided by the University. You can take a shuttle to the grocery store or even to a nearby city. Schools that have shuttles usually have a shuttle schedule posted on their website or around campus. Zipcars are also a popular mode of transportation if you have your license. Nowadays, many students resort to Uber or Lyft to get them from point A to B which also is a great option. If you live in a major city, public transportation is a great way to check out the locals and get to where you want to go quickly.

6. Take a fitness class off campus

The freshman fifteen is a real fear for many college students. Get ahead of the game and sign up for a fitness class in your town. Not only is it a great opportunity to meet locals and people in the community, you’ll also get some exercise and a break from the stress of classes. Make sure you ask if they have a student discount because many fitness studios offer students a discount on fitness classes!

7. Go to Main Street with friends

One of the best ways to experience the town or city that you’ll be living in for the next four years is to head right to the heart of it! Grab your friends and take a short trip to the main street in your town. This is usually where all the good restaurants, movie theaters and ice cream shops are. There also might be grocery stores and drugstores so if you need to pick up some snacks its super convenient. If you’re trying to get a feel for the town, this is the place to go.

8. Get an off-campus job

If you’re looking to make some extra money while you’re in college, getting a job or internship is the way to go. If you’re having trouble getting an internship, check out your university’s career services office and see if they’ve heard of any opportunities around town. They can be a great resource to go to if you’re struggling to find a job, especially your first year. There are also plenty of stores around town that might have applications or “we’re hiring” signs so make sure you look out for those.

9. Volunteer in the community

Many schools have programs or organizations on campus that provide students the chance to do volunteer work within the community. Keep an eye out for groups like Habitat for Humanity or tutoring opportunities. Volunteering within the community is a great chance to meet locals and spend time helping those in need. You can also check your university’s website and see if they have any service programs that you can join.

10. Go to Town Events

Throughout the year there are probably going to be a variety of events within the surrounding area around your college or university. Things like holiday parades, carnivals and sports games are fun events that you and a group of friends can attend relatively cheap. You’ll feel more connected to your college town and get to attend events that you might have been missing from home.

Source: https://www.studentuniverse.com/blog/travel/travel-tips/10-tips-for-exploring-your-college-town

Here’s Why Scholarships are More Important than Ever

In 2018 — as in most years in the recent past — Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College report found that parents contributed the biggest piece of the financial aid pie in supporting students. 34% of college costs came from parental contributions, outpacing the 28% covered by scholarships and grants and the 24% paid for by loans.

Parents were also key players in helping with costs outside of college. Research from the Pew Research Center found that 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to be living with their families today than they were in the early 2000s, prior to the 2008 recession. The report cited “cyclical labor market conditions” for young adults gravitating toward shared living quarters. The upside of living at home was that more students enrolled or returned to college, gaining additional skills during a rough economic time.

Making that transition to (or back to) college, though, means parents and students are both keyed into the same reality: that the cost of higher ed is often more than what they can afford. According to How America Pays for College, their top concern is rising tuition and fees at schools. The second highest concern was that not enough scholarship and grant money would be available to cover those costly bills.

These realities have forced families to be creative about their payment options; for example, an increasing number of students work while attending school (73 percent, up from 62 percent last year). But they also mean that family circumstances, economic recovery and other factors squeeze students’ ability to pay for their education, even as they try to focus on their studies.

Every student’s story is different, but the financial gap in paying for college is still apparent. By providing sufficient scholarship assistance, we can enable greater success in college, providing backing for deserving students who want to graduate with their degree and give back to society. The support that students receive from their own community instills a greater sense of belonging – and motivation – to make it through their higher education.

The federal government is also keyed into the need for extra support for students: not just college access, but graduation success; not just a one-time award, but renewable awards and other educational assistance. Broadening support for students – including the call to make institutions more accountable – enables greater success for us all.

On the other side of the college journey is higher education leader Jamie Merisotis, President & CEO of the Lumina Foundation. He recently shared how he received a variety of funds for school, from Pell Grants to state scholarships. “But the most important piece of that equation,” he said, “was that scholarship I received from that Dollars for Scholars chapter in Manchester, Connecticut, because that scholarship represented my community. It represented the people that I was accountable to, and it made a real difference in my life.”

And students do succeed, thanks to the supporters who surround them: parents, relatives, teachers, counselors, mentors. Support also comes in the form of organizations, foundations and individuals who wield their influence and passion to advocate for students on a broader scale. It’s the kind of work that Scholarship America and its partners are involved in, seeking to make postsecondary success possible for all students. It’s also what hundreds of Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars affiliates accomplish every day by rallying together and shepherding their students to future success.

While power comes in numbers, even one supporter can make a life-changing impact on a student.

Source: https://scholarshipamerica.org/blog/scholarships-are-more-important-than-ever/

How to Maintain Work-Life-School Balance

Work and life balance. Tiny woman sitting in lotus position and keep harmony. Choose between career and money versus love and time. Leisure or business. Modern flat cartoon style. Vector

Balancing the demands of work, school, and life can be difficult, but it is critical to your overall success and mental health. This guide explains the importance of maintaining a proper work-life-school balance, details the potential consequences of not doing so, and provides concrete advice on how to manage your time and responsibilities.

Benefits of a Good Work-Life-School Balance

Finding a good balance between work, life, and school will benefit you personally, professionally, and academically. For example, by devoting sufficient time to sleep and exercise, you will better focus in class and absorb more information from readings and lectures. In turn, adhering to this practice can reduce the amount of time you need to spend studying, making it even easier to balance your academic and professional obligations.

Striking an appropriate balance in these areas is also key to your mental health. For instance, setting aside time for your hobbies, like reading or watching movies, can help lower your stress levels and increase motivation. Socializing with friends or family is also important, as a network of supportive relationships will help you cope with challenges in all areas of your life. Finally, setting clear goals and effectively managing your time may reduce feelings of anxiety and improve the quality of your work.

Impact of Not Maintaining a Good Work-Life-School Balance

By focusing too much on one set of responsibilities in your life, you open up yourself to a variety of negative consequences. For example, many working professionals return to school in order to advance in their careers. But if you neglect the demands of your job in order to devote more time to studying, you may be demoted or even fired. If you do not make sufficient time for your schoolwork, however, you may fall behind in your classes and fail to earn a degree.

Many people who try to juggle both school and work end up sacrificing their personal well-being. They may eat poorly, sleep less, or spend less time with loved ones, which can disastrously affect their physical and mental health. You may find yourself sick more often or unable to deal with feelings of stress and depression. Despite allocating more time overall to school, your academic performance could still suffer as a result.

10 Tips For Establishing a Lasting Work-Life-School Balance

With so many demands on your time, it can be hard to make sure you are paying enough attention to your job, schoolwork, health, and personal relationships. Below, we offer 10 tips to help you establish a positive and sustainable balance between work, life, and school.

Get Organized

Create a schedule and devote blocks of time to your job, schoolwork, and family responsibilities. Update your schedule on a weekly basis, keeping track of which tasks took less or more time than expected. You may also benefit from developing and regularly updating a list of priorities and projects.

Communicate with Family, Friends, and Employers

If you let your partner and other loved ones know about your busy schedule, they may be able to offer additional support. Your friends will also know better when they can expect to see you. Some companies even allow employees to take personal time in order to attend class or study.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

You must be physically healthy in order to do your best work. To start, get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Try to exercise or be active at least three times per week and do your best to maintain a healthy diet.

Practice Mindfulness

Your mental health is equally as important as your physical health. Mindfulness is the intentional practice of staying in the moment, often through meditation, and it can help reduce stress, anxiety, and some symptoms of depression. Generally, try not to worry about what you are not doing and focus on what you are doing.

Devote Time to Hobbies

If you work hard, you deserve to take the time to enjoy yourself as well. Read a non-academic book, go on a hike with friends, or cook a meal with your family. Little rewards like these will help you stay motivated when the time comes to return to work.

Set Limits

No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot do everything. Avoid taking on new responsibilities by politely saying no. While you may miss out on some opportunities by doing this, remaining focused on your top priorities will allow you to accomplish what you set out to do more quickly.

Lower Your Expectations

For many people who work a full-time job, care for their family, and go to school, perfectionism is the default goal. Remember to be kind to yourself and understand that straight A’s may simply not be possible given all of the demands on your time and energy. Think instead about the bigger picture of earning a degree and taking the next step in your career.

Take Breaks

Studying for hours on end can lead to burnout. Take small breaks regularly to give your brain a rest and improve your mood. In addition, try to schedule more substantial breaks, like a long weekend or extended vacation, whenever possible.

Don’t Procrastinate

Breaks are important, but don’t use them to put off work that should be done sooner rather than later. By pacing yourself and planning ahead, you will avoid the stress and anxiety of trying to beat a last-minute deadline. Taking time to revise and edit your work also leads to a better finished product.

Ask for Help

Do not try to do everything on your own. Ask your instructor, teaching assistant, or classmates for help figuring out tricky assignments. Ask colleagues at work if they can do you the favor of switching shifts or assisting with a large project. And, most importantly, seek the guidance of a mental health professional if you feel overwhelmed or unable to deal with issues in your life.

Source: https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/work-life-school-balance/

8 Ways to Slay Your Summer Classes

Summer school has a different rhythm than the rest of the school year. As you dive into your new summer routine, it’s just as important as ever that you strategize how and when you’ll study.

A May 2017 research study out of Stanford University  found that a strategic approach to studying can even boost your test grades—by one third of a letter grade on average! Here are eight ways you can study smarter this summer during summer school.

1. Set some summer goals.

In the Stanford experiment, students first reflected on their goals for an upcoming exam. Try doing the same for your summer class. Why are you taking this course, and what do you want to get out of it?

2. Prepare to take great notes.

Summer classes operate on a compressed schedule, which means you’ll cover a lot more material per class session. Good note-taking skills are key for keeping track of all the information you’re covering each day.

3. Retaking a class? Don’t start from square one.

This is a terrific opportunity to reflect on the areas or topics you previously had trouble with. Do you freeze during in-class essays? Was cell biology a blur? Take steps to work with a summer tutor or your teacher on skills and topics you need to master. Revisiting the course material will also show you how much you already know!

4. Sync your school calendar with your social calendar.

Summer classes have an accelerated pace, so read your syllabus carefully. Mark test dates and deadlines for major assignments on a calendar and work backwards. Don’t forget to include work shifts, concerts, and other fun stuff, so you have a clear picture of what you truly have going on. Devote a chunk of time each night to preparing for what’s coming up next.

5. Form a new study crew.

Summer school is great way to meet people you wouldn’t normally run into. And since summer classes usually have fewer students in them, you might feel more comfortable asking to borrow notes from a classmate or forming an impromptu study group. Of course, our tutors are also on standby to help you all summer long.

6. Visualize your upcoming test.

Before a big test, think about what you can expect. What topics and chapters will the test cover? Can you guess any of the questions based on your homework assignments and classwork?

7. Take advantage of all your resources.

A big component of the Stanford studywas asking students to identify all the available class resources they would use to study effectively. Consider everything that’s available to you, like:

  • Class notes
  • Textbook readings
  • Handouts
  • Practice questions
  • Outside review with your teacher
  • Summer tutoring

Once you have a personal list, write down why each resource will be useful and how you will use it. Bingo! You’ve got a study plan.

8. Take plenty of brain breaks.

FOMO can be intense during the summer, especially if your friends have different plans than you. You’ll be more productive and motivated if give yourself a break. Go for a run, catch a movie, or even take a power nap to recharge.

Source: https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/summer-school-tips

SUMMER SCHOOL VS SUMMER BREAK: PROS AND CONS OF A SUMMER SCHOOL EDUCATION

At the end of a busy semester of study, you may not be thinking ahead to summer school. That’s to be expected. Many students view summer as their chance for a break, not a chance to continue their studies.

Yet summer school can have quite a few benefits that are worth considering. If you are on the path toward completing a degree, don’t discount this option to do so a little faster. By weighing the pros and cons of summer school, you can make the choice that best fits your educational goals.

PRO: LIGHTEN UP YOUR FALL AND SPRING SEMESTER LOAD

If you consider summer school as a third semester, you might be able to take fewer classes during the fall and spring semesters. If you are nearing the end of your degree and find that the coursework is getting harder, pushing some courses to summer school lets you take a more bearable load in the fall and spring semesters. If you find that your semesters are just getting too hard, and don’t want to graduate later, then consider this strategy.

CON: SUMMER SCHOOL COURSES MOVE QUICKLY

When you take a course in summer school, you often have to complete a full semester of study in four to six weeks. This means your professors have to pack more into each day than they would during the spring and fall semesters. Sometimes the classes are longer, and other times the homework is more intense. You will have tests and quizzes with more regularity. Make sure you’re ready for this level of intensity. Make sure you use the right strategies to stay focused on your studies if you take a summer school course.

PRO: YOU CAN GRADUATE EARLY

College is expensive, and the more time you spend in college, the longer it will take to fully launch your career. When you take some classes in summer school, you often will be able to graduate early. Graduating early also means you won’t be competing with all of the classmates in your major. If you are living on campus, early graduation also lets you save some money on room and board.

CON: SUMMER SCHOOL CAN COST MORE

Sometimes summer school costs more than schooling during the regular semester. If you are on a scholarship, check the terms of the scholarship carefully. It may not cover summer courses. Similarly, if you have funds through a work-study program, your work position may not be available during the summer. You’ll may also have to pay for your room and board during the summer if you stay on campus.

One way to get around some of these added costs is to take these courses online from home or at your local community college, then transfer them to your university. If you choose this route, always check first to see if they will transfer.

PRO: ONLINE COURSES GIVE FLEXIBILITY

The rise in online education makes summer college classes more attainable in many programs. Students can study online during the summer term and still go home to work jobs and get paid for their efforts. If you are able to take advantage of online courses, this can make summer school affordable and flexible.

CON: CLASS OPTIONS MAY BE LIMITED

Summer school class options may be limited. First, professors, like students, enjoy summer break, so they may not offer as many courses during this term. Second, summer school is very popular, and so classes that are offered may fill quickly. If you decide that summer school helps you reach your graduation goals, sign up for the classes you need early.

PRO: GET THOSE GENERAL EDUCATION CLASSES OUT OF THE WAY

General education—the English, math, and history classes that everyone takes, regardless of their major—can be a bit of a drag during college, especially when you want to focus on the classes in your major that teach what you’re passionate about. Summer school gives you the ability to get those gen ed classes out of the way in a streamlined manner. By finishing these mandatory classes in summer school, you can spend your semesters focusing on learning the things that drive your passion.

CON: SUMMER SCHOOL CAN CREATE BURNOUT

College life is intense. You spend many hours of the day studying and researching. Sometimes, you just need a break. When you stick with the grind, even in the summer, you may be more prone to burnout.

PRO: SUMMER WORKS WELL FOR INTERNSHIPS

If you find yourself on the verge of burnout, don’t discount the thought of using summer to complete some educational requirement. Instead of coursework, consider the summer term as the chance to complete a required internship. You can gain valuable on-the-job training, without demanding academics, and still check off some requirements for your degree. Scoring a summer internship can be one of the most valuable parts of your education experience.

CON: SUMMER SCHOOL MEANS LESS OPPORTUNITY TO WORK

Many students use the summer months to work and raise money for the coming semester. If you take a full load of classes during the summer, and those classes are more academically intense because of their shortened nature, you may not have as much time as you need to work. If you need the income from a summer job to pay for your tuition in the fall semester, and you have a good job opportunity available, consider carefully if adding the demands of summer school is wise. That said, online courses and programs can give you the flexibility to work a job while attending summer school, so options exist that can help you do both.

PRO: LESS RISK OF “SUMMER SLIDE”

All students, from elementary school through grad school, who take a significant chunk of time off of their studies are at risk for what educators call the “summer slide.” This happens when they lose valuable learning or study skills over the summer break. When you take summer school, your brain stays engaged with your learning and this risk lessens.

CON: YOUR TEACHERS MAY NOT BE THE SAME

During summer school, courses are often taught by adjunct professors, not the full-time faculty you spend time with during the school year. These teachers are usually qualified for their position, but they may not have the teaching experience of full-time instructors. This could impact the quality of your summer education.

So, what’s the bottom line? Summer college classes can be a great way to get some of your courses out of the way, graduate early, and enjoy a less intense fall and spring schedule, but they can get in the way of rest and jobs. In the end, each student will need to weigh these pros and cons and consider their overall goals for education before deciding to take summer classes.

Source: https://www.ucumberlands.edu/blog/summer-school

Summer Planning Strategies

For so many graduate students, this summer has already proven itself to be unlike any other they’ve encountered so far; and with ongoing global crisis, graduate students should feel no guilt for prioritizing their personal well-being over their productivity. That being said, summer has always been a time of free fall for graduate students — assistantships end, funding becomes unstable, precarity increases and the work structures that we rely on to keep us productive throughout the semester suddenly disappear. All the while we are expected to prepare for fall teaching, continue our own research, catch up on tasks that we shuffled off during the academic year and make real progress on a slew of tasks. Whether this summer has been particularly disruptive for you or whether summer always proves a time of uncertainty, here are some strategies for making progress in your work, however small.

Be Kind to Yourself

While it’s worth practicing self-compassion no matter the circumstances, this tip feels especially necessary now. As graduate students, we keep seemingly endless lists of tasks and goals, aspirations and to-dos. With so much on our plates at all times, it can be easy to slip into feelings of doubt, guilt, despair, stress and anxiety. However, as you may know from experience, such feelings are entirely counterproductive, serving only to paralyze us in the face of even small tasks. As a result, instead of holding yourself to incredibly high standards this summer, be realistic about where you’re at, where you’d like to be and what steps you’ll be able to take in the time that you have.

Setting huge goals for yourself (“I will write every single day!” “I will finish two chapters this summer!”) may feel good in the moment, but it can set you up for a work freeze if you fail to live up to those goals (“I missed writing yesterday. Why am I so terrible at this?” “I’ll never finish this chapter at this rate — why even bother?”). Instead of responding to inevitable setbacks with guilt, shame or frustration, treating yourself with care can make all the difference in your willingness and ability to bounce back.

Instead of judgmental self-talk, try to speak to yourself like you would a close friend, a loved one, one of your students or even a child. Whatever approach you need, responding to yourself with compassion and understanding will make you more willing to try (and potentially fail) later, making it easier to get back to work even after a setback.

Work Backward

Perhaps already a familiar strategy to those who have experience creating lesson plans, working backward from your intended goal to accurately plan the steps that will get you there is a powerful way to build your own structure and deadlines. Think about the goal that you’d like to reach and its ideal deadline.

For instance, if your goal is to take your comp exams by Oct. 1, but you know that your exam materials must be submitted two weeks prior to your exam, then your real deadline becomes Sept. 17. Then, you know that you want a good three weeks to write and revise each of the two essays required, which means that you’ll want to start drafting by July 21. Before that, though, you’ll want some time to finalize your bibliography, read and annotate your sources, and talk to your committee, all of which you can fill in as tentative deadlines on your calendar.

So, now, instead of Take Comp Exams by Oct. 1, you have June 10: Contact Committee, June 15: Compile Possible Sources, June 22-July 17: Read and Annotate, July 20: Finalize Bibliography, July 21: Begin Drafting First Essay, Aug. 11: Begin Drafting Second Essay, Sept. 17: Submit Materials to Committee, Oct. 1: Exam.

Thus, instead of setting large goals into your calendar, build in smaller deadlines by breaking the goal into its components (the topic of the following tip).

Set Actionable Tasks

Admittedly, there exists a page in my own planner that includes the task Write Chapter 3 — a worthwhile goal, perhaps, but not an actionable one. After all, it would be impossible to simply sit down and suddenly produce a complete and usable third chapter. In fact, the only way to eventually reach a finished Chapter 3 will be to first complete the reading, research, brainstorming, planning, drafting, revising and all of the other minute steps that make up the work of chapter writing.

As you think about working backward, and thus consider all of the small steps that make up much larger goals, think about how you can break large goals into even smaller actionable steps that you can realistically complete.

To use the example above, the July 21 goal of Begin Drafting First Essay will give you a clear deadline for your monthly calendar, but it isn’t yet at the more achievable level of daily to-do task. As you get closer to this deadline at the end of July, you’ll want some more clear direction. For instance, your to-do list for July 21 might include items as small as Create New Document for Essay 1, Title, Draft Rough Introductory Paragraph, Import Bibliography Into Document, Draft Bulleted Outline Beneath Introduction, etc.

The idea is that you first set realistic calendar deadlines by breaking a goal into smaller goals, but then you can further break those small goals into daily to-dos that allow you to make real progress each time you sit down to work and cross something off of your task list each day (instead of only getting the satisfaction of feeling “done” once the whole project is completed).

Be Consistent

As scholars like Joan Bolker (Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day) and Helen Sword (Air & Light & Time & Space) make clear, the most successful academic writers are those who are the most consistent in doing work. While it can be tempting (or unavoidable, or necessary) to step away from work for extended amounts of time or to work in large, sudden blocks, working regularly, even in small sessions, ultimately produces larger amounts of usable work.

Breaking your goals into small, achievable tasks can help with your consistency. After all, it’s much easier to want to write each day if your goal is something like Write for Five Minutes or Add Transition to Final Paragraph instead of the imposing and seemingly unattainable Write Chapter 3.

Rewarding yourself with small treats or writing trackers (today’s final tip) can also be a great way to motivate yourself to want to work. Regardless of how you do it, however, the fact remains that small and consistent progress adds up much quicker than sporadic bursts of work. Consistency can help you become more compassionate with yourself as well, since you no longer have such large expectations for your working time. Instead, remember that any work done (no matter how seemingly insignificant) is still work done.

Reward Yourself

While other articles exist with ideas for how to reward yourself for your work, it’s simply important that you are getting some kind of regular payoff for your work to keep you moving forward. These should be (like your work itself) small and consistent rewards. That is, while you might be planning some way of celebrating completing your comp exams in October, you should also be including smaller-tier treats for finishing each step of the process that will get you there. You might even want a weekly or even daily reward for completing work — you know your needs best.

Even if they are small rewards like a new sticker for each day of work, a morning pastry with your coffee after every three consecutive workdays or an at-home spa day at the end of a full week, keeping yourself motivated with self-generated rewards is necessary to becoming more productive. Rewards keep you motivated and make you more likely to want to keep going. After all, the promise of a sticker might be the difference between sleeping in on Friday or shuffling out of bed to add a few sentences to a draft.

Even without external structures of work, colleagues, etc., you can still be self-starting — capable of caring for your needs and the reality of your situation, building your own deadlines, breaking your goals into achievable tasks, working consistently, and providing yourself with rewards and motivation for your hard work.

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/summer-planning-strategies