3 Things I Learned in My First Semester in Grad School

I started the MA program in Educational Psychology at Hunter College in CUNY this past Fall 2013 and time has passed so fast that the first semester is already over. Much I have heard about how hard grad school is and how much time for sleep I will NOT get but, seriously, there are some good things I have learned in this past few months. Let's review. 

1. Work Collaboratively.

OK, when it comes to grad school, you must find a niche. Or some sort of a group that you feel comfortable with. Group projects and large individual projects will come along the way and you must find a way to find support among those who suffer with you (aka fellow grad students). Our group did Google Hangouts more than a few times and it turned out to be a great tool for discussions. We were able to share resources and set up a timeline to complete our project. Also, we found it efficiently to work on a shared Google document which enabled us to collaborate in real time.

2. Stay Organized.

I only took two classes, but I really felt as if I was taking four. I quickly noticed that it was going to be easy to get overwhelmed (especially given my added responsibilities at my full-time job) so I took the safe road. I first hunted down for the best and most effective to-do app for my phone and downloaded it. I then created a calendar with specific time slots to study each course. Tuesdays I studied for my class the day before and Thursdays the same for my Wednesday class. As the semester moved forward, I found more effective to add on a third time slot for a specific project regardless of the class it was for. This helped minimize the load of work for each class.

3. Know How the Class Flows.

"You guys are grad students now" said my professor more than a few times. But what does that actually mean? I wondered. Gone are the days when your professor posts the power point slides on Blackboard (or anything that resembles that in your own institution) for you to review them. Note-taking is a must and one needs to master it upon walking in through the door. Writing down what is on the slides could be helpful but translating the discussion into my own words is what really worked for me. During my Learned Behaviors class, for instance, we would talk about different approaches to learning a specific subject, I would then draw on my own experience at my current job as a way to understand the topic and see how the concepts really play out in the field.

There are, for sure, many more things that came with this first semester. But, as I move forward, I'd like to stay on track and see where I can improve to make my life easier, less stressful.

Image: User Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr



I am an ePortfolio instructor working in New York City. I am also a student in the MA program in educational psychology at Hunter College. In my current position, I instruct students how to develop and build their ePortfolio to showcase their academic skills. I also collaborate in professional development seminars with faculty members from various departments on building the curriculum to teach the first year seminar experience. Read more about me.