by Christine Jiang, SCCO 2020
First year can get stressful at times because it’s the year of adjustment and exposure to everything new for the next four years. With that in mind, I thought I’d rack up a list of helpful tips for surviving first year.
What I Would Do Differently:
- Sleep early, wake up early. Long nights of studying and cramming for tests are inevitable, but grad school is really a test of realizing that there are the same number of hours per day and how you manage your time effectively. I cannot stress enough that sleep is crucial for surviving grad school, or else you’re going to burn out. The curriculum is typically designed to be more intense each quarter, so it would be wise to start off with good sleep and study habits starting fall quarter.
- Study with friends. I wish I knew this earlier because it’s an awesome way to get to know your classmates. Struggling through the material with others will really enrich your learning process and allow the material to stick in your head better – especially for long term memory you will need once you enter clinic courses.
- Use the school gym, or any gym, and exercise that stress off (free for MBKU students). I really wished I exercised more during the school year … grad school life involves sitting in chairs all day long because let’s be real, you’re either in class, studying or eating. I can personally testify that I gained an extra few pounds from my first year, and I wish I found a way to stay more active and healthy. And, super awesome, we just added a bunch of new equipment added to our gym.
- Get to know the faculty because they can offer so many tidbits of wisdom and advice. I wish I got to know my professors better. Especially at a small campus, it’s easier to build relationships with your professors. Whether it’s through labs or sticking around after lecture, there are always opportunities to get to know them.
- Pre-study. Do a brief skim of what you can the night before the lecture, so that everything in lecture is a review. Be attentive and hone in on concepts that were challenging in your pre-study session.
- When you don’t do so hot on a proficiency, don’t beat yourself up over it. Remember that failing proficiencies among your peers is very, very common so second chances are often given. Success requires fortitude and perseverance, and it often doesn’t come with the first try. If you’ve never failed, you haven’t tried hard enough to succeed.
What I Would Do Similarly:
- Not spending my whole day at the library studying really helped me to focus better on my studies. Breaking up my study times in chunks by spending maybe a couple hours each at the library, a coffee shop, and then home really aided to give me a refreshing environment to study in. I’m not saying that this will work for everyone because it really depends on your work habits, but this definitely worked for me.
- Use the whiteboards in the library for studying. If you’re more of a visual learner like me, it doesn’t hurt to invest in a mini white board and a new set of expo markers.
- Find a community in and outside of school. Hanging out with my local church on the weekends, hanging out with my family, or grabbing boba or meals during the week with at least one other person outside of my school group was a huge refresher for me by helping me get my mind off school and reminded me that school isn’t everything.
- Stay hydrated (there’s many hydration stations on campus) with ice to keep you awake, pack your lunch or dinner (if you’re camping out and commuting), and always have backup snacks in your backpack – lots of them. FYI, there are always refrigerators and microwaves accessible on campus.
- If school gets too stressful, take a day off if you can! There are many fun places near Fullerton – some of them include Newport Beach, Disneyland, downtown Fullerton, or the Anaheim Packing District, to name a few.
I hope that some of these tips were helpful. Again, there’s no quick-dry formula for excelling in a graduate program, but it really takes a learning curve process. If there are certain habits that don’t jive well with you, then first year is the perfect time to be flexible and make adjustments for what works best for you!