Surviving Your First Semester of Graduate School – Vicky Karpilovich MPA ’18

Adapting to your first semester of grad school is a process, and it comes in waves of pure excitement (“I did it” “my classmates are so inspiring” etc.) and absolute fear (“how am I going to prepare for this exam?” “can I really balance it all?” etc.). One of the biggest challenges you will probably encounter is the adjustment to your schedule, lifestyle, and priorities; transitioning from being gainfully employed to unemployed or partially employed and embracing academic life is tough…for everyone. That is a key point because while your personal struggles and challenges may be unique, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re surrounded by like-minded, passionate classmates who are likely experiencing something similar – – – the friends you make during your first semester not only help define your overall experience at Price but they also keep you sane and help you survive your first semester. So, besides bonding with your classmates, here’s a list of tips and lessons I learned in my first semester that will hopefully help you as well (in no particular order):

  1. You don’t have to do it all, all the time. It’s practically impossible to read every single page of every single reading you’re assigned, and that’s ok. You may have to miss a meeting/event here and there and you may not be able to go to all the happy hours with your classmates. A study schedule/planner may help keep track of your commitments and help you manage your time better.
  2. Know your limits. If you’re thinking of picking up that internship or volunteer opportunity be honest with yourself about how many hours you can devote. Perhaps 25 is financially ideal but maybe 20 will suffice and lead to less stress.
  3. Join a student organization – you don’t have to be on the board of an organization but attend some events hosted by organizations that address causes you’re passionate about. It’s a great way to meet people with similar interests.
  4. Be strategic about how you expend your energy both inside school and outside of school. Learn to manage your free time well and remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to have “me” time.
  5. Get to know your program administrators…well. These people are your go-to and you should aim to establish an amicable relationship early on.
  6. On that note, get to know your professors, at least to the extent that it helps you understand what their expectations are and how to excel in the class.
  7. Go to office hours and get the help you need; I went to my Econ office hours almost every week and it definitely paid off.
  8. Be kind to yourself and remember that you’re obtaining this education to better yourself; so, rest when you can, eat healthy, and don’t forego your workouts. Oh, and lots of vitamin C.
  9. When you are in a frenzy and super busy with academic and social commitments, try to remind yourself of the bigger picture and why you’re doing this in the first place. Then breathe… and take it one day at a time.
  10. If something isn’t working the way you want it to (programmatically) or if you see ways to improve or enhance any aspect of the program, speak up. Take ownership of your experience and make the most of it…you deserve it.

Fight On!

Vicky Karpilovich

MPA/Graduate Certificate in Sustainability & Business Candidate – 2018