Making the Adjustment: First Session in a Graduate Program

You knew graduate school would be a big commitment, but you may not have realized quite how much of a challenge it would be. The assignments and course material may be different than what you’ve seen before, especially if this is your first time taking online classes. You may feel overwhelmed with juggling your work, family and school responsibilities, and you may start to wonder if you made the right decision. Don’t get discouraged, though. The following tips can help you make adjustments so that you can meet your goals in your online courses.

  • Stay positive. No matter how rough the first days or weeks are, don’t give up. Focus on finishing each assignment. As you get deeper into the term, you’ll notice that you’re more efficient at your coursework.
  • Ask for help. Your instructors are there for you and want you to succeed. They know that you're in school by choice and are making sacrifices to be in an online degree program. They can provide guidance if you don’t understand an assignment.
  • Network. You’re attending an online program to learn career-focused skills. College offers not only a degree, but also the potential to network. Attend networking sessions and virtual club events when possible, and keep an eye open for webinars and other virtual networking programs.
  • Set a schedule. When time is tight because of your busy life, setting a schedule can be crucial for success. Figure out a schedule that works for your individual requirements. It needs to accommodate your work schedule, your family duties and your online study time. Remember, though, that you still need downtime. 
  • Meet your classmates. You may never meet your classmates face to face, but you can get to know them using online technology. Video chats are great for study sessions and conversing with classmates.

The first session of graduate school may challenge you, but you'll likely make the transition quicker than you think. You may need to rearrange your schedule, try new study methods for your online courses and adapt to new methods of communicating with classmates and instructors. Soon you’ll adjust to your graduate school schedule and be well on your way to your next class.