First off, congratulations! The grad school application process is not easy, and you certainly deserve to celebrate your victory. However, your work is only just beginning. Transitioning to grad school can easily become stressful and arduous if you don’t know what you need to prioritize.
To start your grad school journey as smoothly as possible, you’ll need to consider things like how you’ll gather the supplies and equipment you need, how to deal with the financial side of things, and more. Start preparing now so you don’t end up bogged down with details. That way, you can start your experience outright, focused on the things that made you excited to join this program in the first place.
Go Over Admissions Materials With a Fine-Toothed Comb
The acceptance letter is just the first step in admission. There are still matters of tuition payments, possible financial aid and scholarship info, meetings and orientations to attend, housing matters, and more. All of this means you’ll be flooded with a lot of information in a very short time, all of which you must organize and process properly.
Note all deadlines for things like deposits, class registration, and financial aid/fee waiver applications. Missing them can affect your enrollment and tuition fees.
Don’t forget to accept your offer formally and officially decline any other offers. Declining offers from other programs allows applicants who have been waitlisted for those programs to be considered.
Be Sure You Have the Right Equipment
Getting your equipment, including a computer, tablet, or other more program-specific devices, in order should be another top priority.
Will your classes be in-person? You will likely need a lighter, more hardy computer that can be carried from place to place and used for both in-depth projects and simple class note-taking. You’ll want a model that can hold a charge for long days when you’re on the go. If classes are remote, your device will need to handle a high volume of video-calling and will need the ability to run multiple programs at once without becoming overloaded. A hybrid learning model means you’ll need to choose which features are most important to you.
Now isn’t the time to skimp on investing in your device, whether that means purchasing yourself a new model or simply maintaining the one you have to ensure that it’s always in proper shape. Ensure you know where to go for laptop repair services if you should need them.
If You’re Moving, Get Ready
If your new program is located in a different city or state than your current home, starting school might also mean starting out in a new hometown. You can’t prepare for such a large move overnight, so if you’re moving, get things ready as soon as you can.
Research whether your school offers on-campus or nearby housing to graduate students. If they don’t, they may still offer stipends or have special rates with housing options in the area. In addition to your new housing, you also need to make some adjustments like a new insurance policy or a new wardrobe for a different climate.
Nail Down Your Financial Plan
The sooner you can work out your financial plan, the better. Failing to plan appropriately can lead to serious debt and other consequences that will follow you for years down the line. There are different options available to grad students, including grants, fellowships, loans, scholarships, and teaching assistant positions.
If you’ve received stipends, scholarships, or financial aid, make sure you are very familiar with all stipulations, requirements, and details. Don’t find yourself surprised by sudden requirements and details at the last minute because you didn’t bother to check the fine print.
If you are paying without assistance, make sure your account is all set up to avoid overdrawing. Take a hard look at your savings and income, and be confident you can afford what you’re taking on to avoid common mistakes.
Connect With Others In Your Program
Finally, remember that one of the best parts of a graduate program is the opportunity to meet others in your field and build up your network. The connections you form now will help you out later in your career as your classmates and friends find their way to success along with you. Joining clubs and groups is a great way to get the ball rolling and find new friends.
Your program will likely also host events to help students get to know each other, so be sure to keep those in your calendar when they come up!
Play Smart for the Long Game
Your grad program is essential to shaping your career and future in terms of finances, networking, and more. You shouldn’t go to grad school just to get a degree but should instead make sure you take every opportunity provided by the program to enhance and improve your social and professional skills. The best way to do that is to have your affairs in order right from the start.
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