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What They DON’T Teach You in Grad School

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Graduate school is an amazing, winding road that will lead you to where you want to go in life. At times, the winding road can seem very long and exhausting, but if you take pit stops at the designated rest areas along the way, the journey won’t be as tiring. I’ve compiled a non-exhaustive list of insights professors don’t teach you that I would like to share with you.

Don’t try to do everything on your own.

When you don’t know the answer to a problem or can’t quite understand how to perform a task no matter how hard you try, ask for help. In my Marketing Research course, we had to learn certain codes to perform functions on a data set. One Saturday, I spent about four hours trying to download the application (which wasn’t Mac friendly) and type in different coding functions to analyze a set of data for some homework problems. I ended up getting nowhere. After feeling frustrated and hopeless, I remembered that I had a friend, who every day at work, did exactly what I was trying to do. I asked my friend for help, and he graciously offered to show me the correct way to do it. The time I spent getting more and more frustrated could’ve given me more time to analyze the data after the functions were performed if I had just asked my friend for help in the first place. As stubborn as I am, I felt ashamed asking for directions, but when I finally did, I was so glad. Moral of the story is to not rely on your own brain because two are better than one! And don’t feel stupid when asking for help because that’s what life is all about, collaborating and pulling in your resources. With that being said, it goes without saying to…

Start a study-buddy circle of contacts in your phone.

Keep accountable with your study habits by creating a study-buddy circle of friends that you can call to study with whenever you have an upcoming exam. Not only does it keep you in check to keep up in class, but it’s convenient for all of you. It’s a win-win because you get the company as well as the motivation that comes along with it. Even if your study buddy isn’t taking the same courses as you are, it helps to be around intellectual people. Who knows, they might even know more about the subject than you think. And you may be able to help them, too! Which leads me to the next lesson…

Teaching others will help you learn.

I planned a study date with my friend who’s focusing on supply chain management (completely different from marketing). I was studying some concepts for my Competitive Marketing Strategy course, which emphasized economics terms. I’ve never taken an economics course, so I know I was going to have to work a little harder to understand the concepts. Well, it turns out my study buddy majored in economics for her undergrad degree, and she was able to explain all the concepts I needed to know in layman’s terms. After she briefed me, I was able to talk about the other concepts in class and how they applied to marketing strategy, which taught my friend new concepts and helped engrain in my brain what I learned.

Coffee can be your best friend — or your worst enemy.

Extra caffeine can help you focus on an important assignment in a pinch — like a paper that’s due in the next three hours. But consume too much, and it can leave you in worse shape than before. I’ve learned that moderation is key. Consuming a large amount of coffee + sleep deprivation + stress does not equal productivity. When you start to feel tired, think again when reaching for that second cup of coffee and take a nap instead. But then again…

Who needs sleep?

It will be a constant battle of binging and purging on your sleep cycle (especially if you’re a night owl like me and tend to do your best work in the silence of your own home). Once you get through your first and second semesters, you’ll get the hang of keeping a semi-normal sleep schedule. Sometimes you may even need to choose between sleep, studying, working, being social and eating right. Just get ready for the constant ebbing and flowing of the life of a graduate student!

Gaby Mokry

Gaby is pursuing her MS Marketing program at The Jindal School of Management. Before coming to UT Dallas, she gained experience at traditional and digital advertising agencies. She appreciates a freshly brewed cup of joe and spends her free time surrounding herself with creative projects, Netflix binges and biking on White Rock Lake. Read more articles

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