RU GSE Student Blog

A Student Perspective

Put Those Ducks in a Row

There’s nothing like a new semester & a fresh start to seriously get it together as grad students. Now’s the best time as ever to assess, readjust, & strategize ways to make your time more effective, your productivity more consistent, & your life more together.

Unfortunately, after the flowing eggnog & never-ending sleep of winter break, you probably find yourself feeling more like:




Good news! There’s no need to worry because this is absolutely normal. Just give it a few days, and you’ll be back to lack of sleep & energy drinks. For now, let’s talk a bit about how to set yourself up for success this semester.


Focus on the Prize: Maybe you have a year, maybe 2, maybe 7 (well, let’s not really even go there, Ph.D. students…). However many months separate you from graduation, try to keep in mind that this will ALL soon be very worth it. You’ll have that degree, and then there’s just no stopping you, so watch out, world!

Look at What Didn’t Work: Make a list of everything that frustrated you last semester. Was it writing that 25-page research paper in one day, getting an average of 4-hours of sleep, missing meetings & deadlines, or the weight you gained from poor diet and under-exercise? Whatever it is, fix it! Acceptance is the first step to solving the problem. Once you’re aware of what it was that bogged you down, put your best efforts into changing it for the better.

smart goal setting concept

Set Goals: Sounds idealistic, but it’s really important to set short-term and long-term goals for yourself. Perhaps, you’d like to get published, land a job, or network with professionals outside of your department. It’s time to start turning your goals into attainable objectives. For instance, if you’re looking to land a job, you really want to make sure your resume is edited & polished. Did you know that Career Services will see grad students, too? Well, now you do—You’re welcome!

Make Time for You: I know what you’re thinking. Work/Life Balance: I’ve heard that before…Please hold your cynicism because I have an idea. How about this semester, we all try to pencil in gym time, fun time, reality tv time, or whatever kind of  time keeps us going? Starting off the semester on the right foot sets the trend for success throughout. Train your crazy schedule to acknowledge precious”ME TIME.” 

Surround Yourself with Positive & Motivating People: We all know those characters in our lives that bring us done, make us feel inadequate, and just suck the energy right out of you. While it’s not possible to completely avoid these people, it is completely possible to maximize the time we spend with those that inspire us to do and be better. Find those people, and don’t let them fall out of your lives. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or mentor, these are the relationships that will keep you sane & successful.


Just say NO to Doubts & Comparisons: Like any formative time in life, grad school is an easy time to really lay on theself-doubt.  I’m not as smart as so-and-so. I’m not going to get a job. I’m not good enough to present at a conference. What you should really be asking yourself is….SAY’S WHO? Most of us fall into this trap in our moments of weaknesses, but it’s important to start the semester off with the mindset of: I am good enough. I am smart enough. I CAN DO THIS! At the same time that we doubt ourselves, we give others WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much credit. Comparing yourself to others in your program is just as fruitful as comparing apples to oranges. Just say no to the comparison. It’s going to get you no where fast.

I say all this to simply say, let’s start this semester off on the right foot…



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