Enjoy the Journey Ahead. You’re not Alone!

Every graduate student that ventures along the road to success is tested by various challenges along the way. One of them is loneliness.

Compared with the large classes and intense study sessions in undergraduate courses, graduate programs often focus on small-group learning and solitude. At first, this can be difficult to get used to.

It’s not uncommon to experience unique challenges when transitioning to graduate school. Finding your own personal style of learning and building momentum takes time and patience.

Building momentum takes various steps:

Set achievable goals. Rather than promising yourself that you’re going to spend 5 full hours in one sitting to work on a paper, approach time management realistically. Try writing in 30 minute chunks.

Set boundaries. Set healthy boundaries on campus, at work, and at home–and if you haven’t done so, now is a good time as any to practice. Boundary setting helps you realize that you do have control over your schedule.

Meet with your support system. Have you checked in with people who’ve got your back? This may include faculty, graduate program advisors, loved ones, student peers, or work colleagues. More than one person in your support system is better.

Keep yourself nourished. What keeps you going and energized? Do you need a glass of water? How about a snack or meal? A short nap or a good night’s sleep? Is there a song, movie, hobby, or activity that restores your motivation?

Guard against feeling isolated or alone. No matter how much you feel like you’re carrying the full weight of success or failure on your shoulders, don’t let it keep you from having a life outside of graduate school.

It is so easy–and common–to feel alone and lacking support during your graduate journey. Self-confidence grows one day at a time but often without any direct feedback. Having a mentor or friend or companion makes it so much easier to stay on the path toward completion. This is where Gradmentor can make a huge difference for your success.

In my own experience I found it tremendously beneficial to maintain a personal journal of my reflections. Writing a journal allows you to keep in touch with your own personal writing style. At the same time, it will nurture your personal “voice”.

Here is a source on journaling for graduate students that I recommend for further reading:

Journaling in Graduate School, by Fred Hohman


Author: Scott Kerlin

Dr. Scott Kerlin received his Ph.D in Organizational Behavior and Counseling from the University of Oregon in 1992. He also holds Master's degrees in Human Resource Management/Organizational Psychology and Public Personnel Administration. He has extensive academic research leadership and professional development work with graduate students in U.S. and Canadian universities. Details are available at https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottkerlin/

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