General Grad School Advice · Graduate Student Experiences · Student Perspectives · Tips and Hints for Grad School

Summer Blues: Transitioning From the Sunshine to the Classroom

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As of right now, there are 05 days, 17 hours, and 47 minutes before the fall 2017 semester beginsYou feeling bummed yet?

Or maybe you’re frantically indulging in the sweetness of these final days.  Maybe you’re on to your next year of grad school, or maybe you’re a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newcomer…  No matter, August is weird: it holds the quintessence of an ideal summer– a little hazy, rich in warmth, and perfectly slow.  In contradiction, this month goes by so quickly as you go from nailing down your summer routine to having to think about your fall one.

August whiplash is a real thing.  Here at the Graduate Admissions office, we not only support our grad students academically, but we also care about our students’ personal well-being.  In order to remedy the end-of-the-summer blues, we’ve come up with 8 things you can do to ready yourself for the semester, all while wholly enjoying your last, sweet week of summer.  

 

 

 

Remember: it’s all about balance!

 

 

Prepping for life as a grad:

  • Print out your schedule.  Gather all relevant schedules: work, personal, school, extra-curricular, etc.  It may serve you to use an online schedule maker such as freecollegeschedulemaker.com, where you can color code, add locations and professors.  Google Calendar is also a great way to keep track of academic and personal responsibilities!  We also suggest purchasing a fresh planner.  This may not ring true for everyone, but having a new planner can stir excitement and soothe disorganized nerves.  You can even begin writing down your schedule for the first few weeks…don’t forget to include our Welcome Back Grads event!  *wink wink, nudge nudge.*

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  • Clear out old folders/notebooks and gather new supplies.  If you’re like most college students, at the end of a semester you shove your school supplies into a corner and don’t look at them until a week before classes begin the following semester.  This can cause a lot of confusion and unnecessary stress, so plop down on the floor and go through all of it before your first day of classes.  Recycle what you don’t need, organize and file what you may use in the future, and reuse folders, notebooks, and binders that are of good quality.  Then treat yo’ self to some new, purty stuff if need be! 

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  • Ask questions to staff, faculty, and other students.  If you’re wondering, ask.   At the Graduate Admissions office, we are happy to be your question gurus!  Even if we can’t answer you, we can direct you to someone who can.  There’s also something to be said about talking to professors, or current grad students who have experienced similar feelings or situations.  Graduate school is about applying what you’re learning. Asking questions is key to make sure you’re on the right track.

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Some suggestions:

  • If your funds allow, buy yourself new clothes (don’t forget about thrift stores!). Here’s the caveat: get rid of some clothes too.  Shopping is all about finding your image and using some of those math skills from high school.  Challenge yourself to stay within a chosen budget, all while revamping your fall wardrobe.  Think ahead: Do you need any professional clothing for the semester to come?  As grad students, we can guarantee you’ll benefit from some nice clothes for practicums, internships, and/or presentations.  Or maybe you just really need some new socks.  Either way, there’s nothing quite like putting on that crisp, never-before-seen first-day outfit for the first day of classes.  If it’s your thing, make some time to inventory your closet and restock as you see fit throughout the academic year.  Remember: there are great sales at the end of season!

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  • Take a technology hiatus, just for a short while.  You’re going to be looking at screens lot in the coming months.  So break from all social media platforms, or just a few.  Evaluate your technology use and give yourself a breather.  Doing this will allow you to be fully present in your last days of summer.  Again, follow through with this advice however you’d like.  Your eyes and mind might thank you.

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Taking care of business:

  • Identify your stressors early on.  Write them down.  Talk about them with a friend. Work on your self-awareness so you can avoid, or be ready to handle, your stress in the coming semester.  Let’s say you have a habit of taking on too much responsibility, resulting in less time for self-care.  If you remind yourself right before the semester begins that you are not obligated to say “yes” to every task asked of you, then maybe your semester will be just a smidge less stressful.  Going to graduate school is, by definition, a stressful endeavor.  However, you are allowed to not fit the stereotype of the over-caffeinated, over-worked, over-everything grad student.  Let’s not encourage this image.  It’s not healthy.  Work hard in school, but work hard to take care of yourself as well.

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  • Say your ‘summer goodbyes’ to family and friends.  Whether you’re moving away from home, or Plattsburgh is your hometown, the fact is that you’ll be busy during your time as a grad.  Letting family and friends know now that you will be limited in your time and energy, could possibly avoid feelings of “neglect” later on. You don’t want to get to midterm time and have important people that you love knocking on your door, or blowing up your phone asking why you’ve been ignoring them!  Avoid the awkwardness of a busy time by setting ground rules, or by just telling your family you’ll call them when it works best for you.

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Finally, some advice from a current Clinical Mental Health Student:

  • Hello, new students! My name is Sarah Yancey, and I am a second year CMHC student as well as the graduate assistant for the Counselor Education Department. So you’ve gotten all your books, you’re eager for classes to start, and you’re ready to develop your routine. You’ll be bonding with your classmates, navigating classrooms, and trying to find time for all of the assignments and readings. As you settle into the semester, my advice is to embrace vulnerability. For me, the first year was full of lectures and assignments that transformed the way I look at myself and others. The amount of time I heard the word “reflection” seemed a bit over the top. But because I tried to embrace these assignments and really explore ideas and concepts, I was able to get to know myself on a new level. I can still remember classes where I couldn’t help but cry with a classmate while they were telling their story, or the partner-counseling assignments where I had a revelation about a self-destructive behavior pattern. These displays of vulnerability were some of the most helpful and meaningful learning experiences of my first year in grad school. I encourage you to dig deep and really take this opportunity to get to know yourself in all of your complex glory, and respect and support your classmates as they go through the process as well. For CMHC students, I can tell you this: for most new students, the first year will be emotionally taxing at times, which is where self-care (like crying to the sappiest movie ever, a night with friends, an intense workout, or a day trip away from it all) comes into play. It will feel like emotional work, but it will make you a better counselor and a more integrated person. Pay attention to what/where/who leaves you feeling drained and anxious and what/where/who leaves you feeling energized, inspired, or at ease.  Be aware of all your resources, especially your professors and classmates, because in the end we are all in this together! I hope this tidbit of advice was helpful, and if you have any more questions, feel free to shoot me an email at syanc001@plattsburgh.edu. Best wishes to all of you and I’ll see you around campus (but I pretty much just live in Ward Hall!). 

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We hope you find these tips helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Graduate Admissions office in Kehoe 113, at (518) 563-4723, or graduate@plattsburgh.edu

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