10 Survival Tips for Graduate Students Clarence Spigner, Associate Professor, Department of Health Services, School of Public Health University of Washington, April 3, 2009
Graduate Students Admissions Criteria <ul><li>Statement of Purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Letters of Recommendation </li></ul><ul><li>Prior Experience </li></ul><ul><li>The Interview </li></ul><ul><li>GPA </li></ul><ul><li>GRE </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty/Student Match-up (mentor) </li></ul><ul><li>Demographics </li></ul>
1. Focus on Learning and not so much on Grades . <ul><li>(I) Do not whine about the letter grade. </li></ul><ul><li>(II) Too much emphasis on a letter grade can convey a (false?) impression of being less interested in what is being taught. </li></ul><ul><li>(III) Give informed opinions during discussion and in written assignments. </li></ul><ul><li>(IV) Don’t take verbal or written criticism as a sign of the instructor’s dissatisfaction with you . See them as indicators of interests in what you had to say. </li></ul><ul><li>(V) Take full advantage of office hours. </li></ul>
2. Follow the Course Requirements <ul><li>(I) Believe it or not, required courses were carefully thought-out as essential for mastering the discipline. </li></ul><ul><li>(II) A 2-year Master’s or 3 - 5-year doctoral program is very short. Take requirements as recommended so that adequate is left to research and write-up the thesis or dissertation. </li></ul><ul><li>(III) Some required courses can be fulfilled in other departments, but it’s always a good idea to do them “in- </li></ul><ul><li>house.” </li></ul>
3. Don’t Change Career Paths Just Because a Course is Difficult <ul><li>(I) In every discipline there is always one or two courses that seem to have been created solely to deter you from your chosen career. </li></ul><ul><li>(II) Difficult courses which are essential should NOT be avoided since their absence on your transcript will come back to haunt you. </li></ul>
4. Read and Study All Assigned Material . . . and Then Some <ul><li>(I) Always come prepared even if the assignment isn’t 100% clear. Seeking clarification is the purpose of going to class in the first place. </li></ul><ul><li>(II) Students are not expected to know the material, they expected to know about the material. </li></ul><ul><li>(III) Establish a daily habit of exposure to news: read newspapers, journals, National Public Radio…to stay informed. </li></ul>
5. Increasing Your Writing & Verbal Skills are as Important as Developing Research Abilities <ul><li>(I) Valuable points are lost when you don’t clearly articulate. Write it down first and verbally express it well. </li></ul><ul><li>(II) Revise, revise, and revise. Written work should never be vague, sloppy, illogical, or too rhetorical or reactionary. </li></ul>
6. Get to Know the Staff <ul><li>(I) Look to each other for support and to the instructors to do their job. </li></ul><ul><li>(II) Program staff can provide information essential for academic survival even when it is not in their job description. All that is required of you is common courtesy toward them. </li></ul>
7. Reach-out Beyond Your Department <ul><li>(I) There is a world external to the campus. Go experience it every chance you get! </li></ul>
8. Don’t Lead the Revolution . . . Not Yet <ul><li>(I) Students of color especially might feel more of an obligation to fight for social justice on the campus and off. Good! But remember, get your degree. You’ll be in a much better position to help change the world with it than without it. </li></ul><ul><li>(II) It is possible to mix social change ideals with course work, especially with practicum requirements. </li></ul><ul><li>(III) It is always good to remember what you wrote in your Statement of Purpose. </li></ul>
9. Maintain Physical & Emotional Health <ul><li>(I) Most faculty might not do it, but always try to practice what you (or we) preach. </li></ul><ul><li>(II) The university and the community have a wealth of facilities and activities to help take your mind off books… when it’s called for. </li></ul>
10. Look Out for Each Other <ul><li>(I) Try to say hello to other students –remember, no matter how savvy they might appear, they are in the same boat as you. </li></ul><ul><li>(II) Support others. When they don’t come class or look disheartened, let them know that you are there for them. </li></ul><ul><li>(III) When class assignments require study-groups, don’t allow any single student to feel isolated. </li></ul><ul><li>(IV) Form study groups. </li></ul>
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