Many people will give you a formula for success, but these formulas often leave us wanting more. We often desire more specificity and clarity within the formula. While I can’t provide the specific details for things you need to do to succeed in the MA program, I can tell you some guidelines that will serve you well.
Keep your perspective.
During orientation, Dr. Boone (Associate Dean for the MA program) told us to view this program like a job, not like school. He said that we should keep regular work hours (8-5) and you will find that you have plenty of time to get the work done. I could not agree more. I came to the MA program after working for three years, so this was an easy transition for me. If you view this graduate program like your undergraduate experience, you will more than likely see yourself fall behind. What I mean by viewing the program as your job is to keep disciplined hours that you do school work; plan ahead so that deadlines don’t catch you by surprise; get organized with calendars to keep your class schedule and homework in front of you; treat classes like meetings with your boss — be prepared and be on time.
It will be vital for you to learn to schedule your time to get all of your work and studies done and to lead a balanced life. There are many activities and clubs that you can get involved in, but you should choose wisely because your time is a much more precious commodity than it was in your undergraduate experience. Knowing your schedule and when your assignments are due is a critical part of this formula. Dedicating time daily to completing your work, in addition to your group work, will help you complete assignments on time (and reduce your overall stress levels.)
Lastly, I want to leave you with a few specific practices of mine that served me well during my time in the MA program.
- Keep at least one calendar and maybe two. I found that having a calendar just for my schedule and another for my homework works best for me. Be disciplined with your hours. Since our classes start at 8:00 and end at 4:45, I treat that as my work day and I arrive at school by 8:00am, even if I don’t have class. This ensures that I am on time, but also have extra time in the mornings to complete assignments if I don’t have an 8:00 class.
- Be a team player. You will do a lot of work in teams during this program, so don’t be a hindrance to your team. Flexibility, willingness to share the workload, and contributing are things that go a long way in teamwork.
While you don’t have to follow this advice to do well in the program, they certainly worked well for me. I find that with these practices, I am on top of my schoolwork, I have plenty of time to prepare and study for quizzes and tests, and I am not consistently stressed. Find what system works for you and stick to it. Good luck in the program!