So You’re in Grad School: February

Welcome to February’s installation of “So You’re in Grad School..”! Congratulations, if you’re reading this, that means you’re still in grad school. Whether you’re starting your second semester or last semester, it certainly is an achievement.

If you’re a first year student…

You are starting your second semester right about now. The good news is that you’ve done this once before and you should have the hang of things by now. The bad news is that just when you had a nice routine down, you have to start over with different classes, different professors, and possibly some new responsibilities. Hopefully the friends that you made last semester are still around and you can still use them as an outlet from the grad school madness.

Last month, I told you to think about assessing your assistantship experience. This month, as your new classes get started, take a look back at what went well and what didn’t work so well last semester. Did some studying techniques work better than others? Was there any area that you particularly struggled with? My first semester, I couldn’t read all the pages and pages my professors assigned me. I finally came up with a system that made it somewhat manageable. Are there any resources on campus that can help you with these areas? I didn’t go to Grad School State for undergrad, so I was unfamiliar with the GSS versions of the resources I had relied on Undergrad U.

Work/life balance is something that student affairs professionals talk about a lot. It does apply to you as a student…except it’s now work/life/school balance. You know your supervisor and some of your professors better. Feel free to discuss any balance issues with them. I had a supervisor once that was completely new to Grad School State…she wound up assigning me more tasks than any of the other GAs on my level had because she was unaware of how rigorous my program was. I spoke with my supervisor and made her aware that I was taking more credits than the other GAs AND had more responsibilities than any of them. I know it comes off as whining, even when I write it, but the truth is that I was not going to do well in school or by her standards. I’m not going to lie – the conversation sucked BUT it made me more prepared to have these conversations with my current supervisor as we both navigate some new positions at PDFM U.

If you’re a second year student…

Last month I touched briefly on prepping for the job search. This month we’re going to talk about the smaller job search conferences. During the fall, I went to MACUHO’s annual conference. Later this month, MACUHO will host MAPC – a regionally based conference. Many of the jobs are based in Residential Life, but I did see some that have dual responsibilities with other areas of student affairs as well. While MACUHO is the one that I am most familiar with, I’m sure there are other conferences in other parts of the country. I believe one student from my program attended a different one because he wanted to be in the same area of the country as his fiance.

I had other friends that went to conferences that specialized in a certain area of student affairs including admissions, career services, and orientation. If you know you want to work in a certain area, these are important conferences to attend as even TPE and ACPA still have mostly residence life positions.

Take a look at the jobs that are posted at these smaller conferences. There have to be some that interest you and attending a smaller conference is a great way to prep for a larger one. I made the decision to attend MAPC at literally the last minute and I’m really glad I did. While it was MUCH smaller than TPE, the idea was the same. There was an area with employer mailboxes, an area with candidate mailboxes, work areas for candidates, and a waiting room. As long as you’re not wearing yourself too thin, check out some smaller conferences before you head out to a larger one.

I wish you all the best of luck with your new classes or with your job search!

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