Lessons From the First Semester of a Grad Student

Somehow, it has already been a full semester since I started as a grad student here at IUP.  I have no idea where the time has gone or why it seems like there won’t be enough time within the next week to get everything done.  Since finals begin next week, I figure now would be a good time for a little reflection.

I won’t lie, this first semester has been challenging, but I’m not in this alone.  After all, as Dr. Ford has been saying all semester, Archaeology is a social science that requires you to be social and I feel so lucky to have such an amazing cohort/class that helps one another.

In the spirit of helping others, I hope I can impart a few things I’ve learned from this semester onto future students.

  1. Grad school is a serious commitment and not just financially. I didn’t realize how little of my life would exist besides classwork.  Make sure you can keep the basics of life in order.
  2. Time management is key if you want to minimize the number of all-nighters. It doesn’t look like much on the syllabus, but it will probably take longer than you expect.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t understand something or you need more time on an assignment, just ask.  The worst that will happen is someone can’t help you.  Then remember, you have a whole department, professors and peers, that could probably help you out.
  4. If you’re as socially awkward as I am, this is going to hurt, but get used to talking in front of others. Between class discussions and presentations, you need to know how to talk to people.  I’m one of those people who hates public speaking, even after reading at open mic poetry nights for a couple years.  What I can tell you though, is that once you know people in the room, it gets easier.  I know this is lame advice but stare at someone you know.  Talking to a friend, teaching them something, is far easier than talking to people you’ve never seen.
  5. You’re not in this alone, no matter the program or department.  All your professors went through grad school and your peers are going through it at the same time as you are.
  6. Remind yourself that this will not last forever. The grass is greener on the other side and all that jazz.

IUP Anthropology Department

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