Getting a master’s and a Ph.D. degree is hard work.
There is a lot of pressure involved, you have to write and publish articles, participate in and conduct research projects, present the results of your research at national and international conferences, come up with a thesis or dissertation, and defend it having your deadline in mind. But this only happens after you go through the whole process of applying and being accepted to start the program.
I’ve gathered some insights and information that might come in handy if you are interested in entering, surviving, and thriving in this academic world.
1. How to enter?
First things first, when I decided that I wanted to enter a Graduate School, I looked for information about the program I wanted to join, the research areas, and what the professors and their students were publishing so I could find out where I could fit in. Then, months before, I started to write my project and study hard for the selection process, which was composed of a written test, a language test, an interview, and a project presentation. You must learn how this process works where you want to study and get well prepared for it.
2. How to survive?
Some things are essential when you enter the academic program of your dreams if you want to survive it:
- Know that you will read a lot of articles and books, both in your mother tongue and in other languages. This can be tough but also rewarding, as you will have much more access to sources and materials for your research.
- Get involved in partnerships with other researchers (professors, students, research groups from other universities, etc.). This will help you amplify your possibilities to publish relevant works.
- Avoid procrastination as much as possible. Sometimes, you will have different assignments to handle, and your deadlines will not be the best. Thus, always prefer to get things out of your way so you can focus on the next ones.
- Share your struggles with others (your adviser, colleagues, family members, friends) and do other things you love, such as exercising, hanging out, or traveling. Mental health issues are real in academic life, so these simple actions will do you wonders. But if needed, seek professional help.
3. How to thrive?
The academic world will not leave you when you leave graduate school. I tend to say that once you fall into this “trap”, you will want to be there forever. So, if you’re like me, you will want to thrive in it. Remember the partnerships I mentioned before? They are vital here, too. So here are some things you can continue doing:
- Join research groups, events, and publication projects.
- Write and submit proposals and use the feedback you receive to improve them.
- Talk about your research whenever possible and allow the world to know about your research.
- Make sure you put theory into practice. Just theory will be useless if you don’t apply it in different teaching scenarios. Besides, grounding your practice on theory will give you much more credibility.
- Continue learning. The worst mistake we can make after leaving grad school is thinking that we know everything (We really don’t.). So, listen to other people’s experiences and share yours. Humility is key.