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10 Things to Do the Summer Before Grad School

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Abound: Grad School »

Did you know that only 13 percent of people in the United States have an advanced degree? 

If you’re about to start graduate school, you are part of a unique, driven, and goal-oriented minority with already a lot to be proud of. Though it can be exciting to prepare for grad school, it makes sense to be a little nervous about this next big step in your life and career.

We’ve put together a quick guide to help you make the most of grad school. Keep reading for more!

1. Create a Plan

In adulthood, attending school requires a lot of planning around your responsibilities, such as work and family. It’s important to take a broad look at what grad school will entail and how to make a schedule that is efficient and manageable. 

Talking to your advisor is the best way to plan your degree around your lifestyle. Get in touch with your advisor to get an idea not just of your first semester, but also of the following semesters.

Once you have your courses planned, you can start thinking about how you will balance academics with the rest of your everyday life. You can even mark out your calendar for family events/holidays as well as days for rest.

2. Attend Orientation or Networking Events

Most graduate programs hold various events for new students during the months leading up to the start of the school year.

By attending these events, you’ll have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the structure of your program, know what will be expected of you, and meet your professors and peers. It’s a good idea to make a list of questions that you have before going to your orientation. For example, you might want to find out whether your graduate program offers a living stipend for students who serve as assistants to professors. If you can hold one of these positions, it will be easier for you to pay for your graduate studies. This is also a great time to locate helpful resources on campus or meet staff who will support you through your education.

3. Assess Your Finances

The summer before grad school is an ideal time to figure out your financial situation. If you don’t have much money in savings, you should consider getting a summer job to save up.

If you have money saved away for your graduate studies, take this time to move it into an account that is easy to access. Make sure the bank you use has branches in the city where you’ll be studying. And don’t forget about financial aid! Grad students are able to receive loans and grants from the federal government so long as they complete the FAFSA for the upcoming year.

4. Apply for All the Scholarships

Many scholarships are available to graduate students. Take time to find out which ones are available to you, and apply to as many as you can. The more you apply to, the greater your chance of winning.

If there are one or two scholarships that you feel you’re an excellent candidate for, spend as much time as you can preparing these applications.

5. Get a Part-Time Job

Even if you receive a scholarship, graduate school can be expensive. This is why it’s so common for people to have part-time jobs while studying. 

But don’t make the mistake of waiting to find a job until the start of the school year. Since this is the time of year when everybody at your university will be looking for a job, you’ll face tough competition. 

This is why it is a better idea to find a part-time job during the summer. If you don’t live in the city where you’ll be studying, consider making a trip to apply for jobs.

6. Create a Support System

If you have friends or family members who have attended graduate programs before, reach out to them to find out if they have any advice for you. Additionally, consider how people in your life can become part of your support system during what will be a pretty busy time in your life. Whether they are there for emotional support or practical support (like providing childcare during your classes), it’s always valuable to be in touch with a helpful community.

7. Travel

If you get the chance to visit a different country, take the opportunity to do this before your graduate program starts. Once you start studying, it will be more challenging for you to find the time to travel.

8. Read for Pleasure

You are going to do lots of reading in graduate school. But your assignments are not always going to be enjoyable, nor will you have lots of downtime. Reading for pleasure is a great way to keep your mind engaged and active without getting bored or bogged down by academic jargon.

9. Explore Your New City

If you’re attending a graduate program located in a new city, make sure you take the time to get to know your new surroundings. Consider taking a city tour if there is one that is available. 

You also might want to get to know the restaurants and cafés near your university. And, of course, this is also a great time to find a place to live.

10. Get Excited

Attending a graduate program can be a life-changing experience. It is normal to feel nervous during the summer before your program starts. But you should also let yourself be excited about your upcoming adventure.

Get Ready for Grad School Now!

If you’re about to enter grad school, there are several essential things that you should do in the summer before your program starts. Make sure that you attend your program orientation, find a part-time job, and take time to travel. If you want to learn more about preparing for graduate school, we’re here to help. Don’t forget to check out our many articles that offer advice on making the best of your graduate school experience.

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