Viewpoint: A Guide to Grad Student Life

By: Genevieve Scarano, Boston College

Graduate school is an experience unlike any other. People, places, and perspectives are different and suddenly you're not in Kansas anymore. On the flip side, change is the best blessing in disguise... among working, three hour classes, interning, paying bills and attempts to have a social life, your time as a grad student is exciting. Just because you're not a college student or working adult doesn't mean you can't live your life to the fullest. As a grad student at Boston University, here are my top advice tips on how to have a fulfilling grad life:

1. Expand your educational perspective

Although obtaining your master's involves more education in one area; it's great to get exposure in electives outside of your curriculum. Not only do different subjects broaden your knowledge, but on a resume it looks amazing if you have other coursework outside of your concentration. This semester, I took a course in photojournalism to learn more about digital storytelling. Although I love writing for magazines and newspapers, it was really cool to learn how to make multimedia videos and intensively photograph subjects. Regardless of your concentration, having exposure to new information broadens your graduate education. (And opportunity to totally own discussions at your next family gathering...)

2. Channel your inner professional

School does take most of your time as a grad student, but it doesn't mean you can't work on your professional experience. Internships are great opportunities, because you get education and career experience while attending school. Plus, most internships are for course credit, which benefit your cumulative GPA. At the moment, I'm interning for a magazine which benefits my education and allows me to publish clips for my future journalism job. If you want to intern, talk to your faculty adviser or your department career office...and get closer to your dream career.

3. Budget and spend smart

Finances kill as a grad student, but you can manage your money wisely. Rent, utility bills, and groceries may prevent you from trips, shoes, or fun Friday nights but it doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself once in a while. Working part-time definitely helps this dilemma a lot; I'm a graduate assistant, which works perfectly with my class schedule and obligations. Keeping records of your spending also allows you to budget each month for necessities (and the fun stuff!) Plus, once you earn a small salary every two weeks and budget, it feels so good to pay for everything and treat yourself once in a while.

4. Keep your head up

Grad school life is challenging but everything works out. You may not get all A's or make mistakes, but take it all as a learning experience. I can definitely tell you that grad school isn't close to perfect, but I've grown so much as a person since I've started. From my first few months here, I've managed to learn more about journalism and other courses advance my career ambitions and live on my own without sacrificing everything. Remember that you are in grad school (you made it!) and that anything is possible when you give life your best shot.