Surviving Graduate School: What to Do in Class

Just because you’re in graduate school doesn’t mean that you will be an expert in every graduate school class you take. Maybe you have been in the corporate world and have forgotten how to play the academic game. Maybe your success as an undergraduate was mostly due to your good test-taking or essay-writing abilities, and you managed to graduate despite your tendencies not to go to class or pay attention. However, graduate school is another level entirely, and you need to be your best during class to survive. Below are some tips about what you can do if you find yourself having issues in a graduate school class.

Choose your seat wisely.

Don’t doom yourself to failure by sitting at the back of class with all the other students constantly texting and coming in late. Do yourself a favor by sitting in front, ensuring the professor knows who you are and increasing your chances of paying attention. You should sit around people whom you know will not distract you, as you will need to pay a lot of attention in every graduate school class.

Master note taking.

Even if you won’t go over your notes later, you are giving yourself a task during class that involves listening to the professor. If you do intend to study your notes, make sure that you take the time to organize your work and to make it easy to find later.

Have a snack.

There’s nothing wrong with eating in a graduate school class. Just make sure that this doesn’t bother your professor and that you are quiet enough to be courteous to other students. Giving your brain and body a little boost during a boring lecture can do wonders for your retention and memory later. A hidden benefit is to your time management; you’re saving time by eating and learning!

Ask questions.

Asking questions yields several benefits. Firstly, asking questions forces you to listen to what your professor is saying. Also, you will be more likely to retain the information because you are actively engaging in the graduate school class lecture. Finally, your professor will believe that you genuinely care about his or her course (whether or not this is truly the case).

Make friends.

Having connections in graduate school class is invaluable to your education. For example, if you do have to miss a day of class, you can ask the other students whom you have gotten to know for any material that you missed. Knowing other students is yet another factor that will encourage you to show up to every class. Also, friends might turn into study buddies later down the road; knowing students in every class is also one of our networking tips.

What If I Don’t Get Into the School of My Choice?

So you didn’t get into the school of choice, now what? Whatever happens, do not give up on your dreams of going to college. A higher education is very important in the world we live in today. If you don’t get into your first choice school you may have to start out at a junior college and then apply to the school of your choice. This can actually be a great way to get in.

As many as 25% of freshmen drop out in the first year, overall about 33% of students drop out in college. This means that if you wait and apply for that perfect school in your sophomore or junior year you probably have a better chance of getting in. First of all you have proved that you are not going to quit and second, the school has more space for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

There is a lot of pressure put on students to choose a big name school or at least a large University.

There are many reasons to choose a smaller school. The first and probably most important is class size. You are going from High School where your largest class was probably only 40 students to a college where the classes can be a big a several hundred. That alone can be tough to handle. By going to a smaller school you can attend smaller classes and work your way into the college atmosphere; after all, there are a lot of changes in your life going from High School to college.

By attending a Junior college you will be able to complete your general admission classes, explore your major and decide if that truly is what you want to do. It is very common for students to change majors. According to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of an online school resource website, 50% of college-bound students change majors two to three times. Don’t be afraid to say that you really don’t want to be a music major, but want to study English! The first few years of college are perfect for trying out new classes. Then by the time you are a junior your general admission classes are done and you probably have a good idea of what you want to study. You may even find that your first choice school is no longer where you want to study. Remember as you go through school nothing is set in stone. You do want to pick a major as soon as you can, but don’t worry about changing.

Overall, don’t panic if you don’t get into your first choice school. There are many other options out there for you. If you have done your homework in High School you have another option already chosen. If not look around and find another school to apply to. The most important thing is not to give up on going to college.