Can you believe it? You made it through the selection process and are about to start your life as a grad student. You will be facing some unique and trying challenges over the next two years. Take the time to get some things organized while you still have the opportunity. Completing each of the following points now will make the transition into grad studies a little less harried.
5. Send thank-you notes to your references.
They don't have to be long letters of undying gratitude, just a little note to let them know you appreciated their effort and that you were successful in your application. If your schedule allows, mention getting together in person before your timetable becomes chaotic. Be sure that you keep the two weeks before you start classes commitment-free so that you aren't inundated with social engagements just before your classes start.
4. If you work, make sure things are in order.
Don't kid yourself, you won't be able to keep the same kind of commitments while in graduate school. Even if you breezed through your undergrad degree without too much worry, you will need to adjust. There is a reason that not everyone is accepted into grad school. Only the strong will survive. Check with your employer and other people in your office to establish which items are priorities before your schedule changes. If your employer is paying all or a portion of your tuition, make sure all of the required paperwork is complete.
3. Prepare your financial documents.
Whether it's for the financial aid office or to keep on hand for your taxes, having all of these documents in order will be a big time-saver. You may unexpectedly find that you require some assistance or need to forward some information on to your employer and having it all ready can keep you from missing some classes or worse- being penalized with late charges and interest fees.
2. Become a registration expert.
Know which courses you are required to take and which courses you want to take. Then make a list of second choices so that you are prepared for making substitutions if necessary. Verify that you have all of the course prerequisites or special permission from the department before registering. Most importantly, do not use last year's course calendar or you may be in for some surprises. Every year there are changes at all institutions. Keep a record of all dates involved in the registration process - what date you need to start your course selection on and the date it must be finalized. Record the cut-off dates for dropping courses and read through the section in your course calendar about how it will affect or not affect your transcript. Decisions need to be made quickly to be effective so be prepared.
1. Spend quality time with friends and family.
Those people who are going to feel your absence the most, should be the one's that you focus some real attention on just before you begin your classes. If you have kids, make time for individual special outings with each one. Talk to them about what it's going to be like for you in school and ask them if they have any questions. Make sure they know that you are not ignoring them and discuss a way that they can let you know when they really need to speak to you or spend time with you. Make sure other family members know which days are more convenient to reach you and have an email address that they can send you updates rather than calling you on the phone. People are less likely to type out really long stories about funny anecdotes that they would normally go on and on about. If you find you have some time to spare, split it in half - half on more school stuff and the other half on family.
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