Grad School Hacks
As a GA Ambassador for the Master of Human Resource Management program, one of the questions I always ask prospective students when I connect with them over the phone or in person is,
“what is your biggest worry about grad school?”
Of course, the choice to return to school for graduate study is not insignificant. For some, the decision means putting off full-time work for another year or two as you transition directly from undergrad to grad school. For others, it means leaving a job to return to academia after many years away. And for many, it means moving your life from home to an unfamiliar city to pursue a degree you hope will position you better for your career aspirations. Every person's circumstances are different, but most experience the full gamut of worry, excitement, and anxiety as they begin to prepare for this major life transition.
Over my time as an ambassador, I’ve collected and compiled a few of the most common concerns from prospective students. And, as a current student who went through this same process just a year and a half ago, my intention is to provide some additional perspective on these points to hopefully alleviate some anxiety. This is supposed to be exciting, after all!
5. Getting a Job: It is no secret that the reason most of us have decided to pursue grad school is because we want to position ourselves more competitively for the types of jobs we want. This is not to say that everyone has or should have it all figured out. We all have the raw materials for success in the HR field--ambition, passion, and grit--but many of us are still exploring where our specific interests land. Organizational Development? Performance Management? Training & Development? The beauty of the MHRM program is that is exposes us to all of these areas so that we can begin to dial in where we may want to end up in our careers.
Jazz up your Linked-in profile and practice using the platform. You'd be surprised how helpful it can be with forging connections along the way as you meet people throughout your time in the program. The Fisher Office of Career Management is integral to this piece of the process. Use their resources too! (Oh, and don't worry, Fisher provides professional head shots at the career fair Late August!)
4. Workload: Many prospective students I talk with express worry about being able to "keep up" in class. I will say that the time spent outside of class is similar to undergrad, but the nature of class work in grad school is different than what many will have experienced. There is more reading outside of class (textbooks, Harvard Business Review cases) and classes are discussion-based. Without homework assignments, there are few "checkpoints" along the way, and professors expect you to have read before class. In other words, it requires discipline.
Look at the readings due for the following week on Friday and plan out when you're going to accomplish each. Writing down my assignments allows me to stop thinking about them incessantly.
3. Night Classes: To be honest, this was a huge concern of mine. Something I love to do is see live music, and so I like to keep my evenings free. I was afraid I would miss out on opportunities to do what I love. I found out quickly though that three evenings a week is very manageable, and I really haven't missed out on anything. What's more--I love having my days free to sleep in a bit, work out when I want, and get outside.
It's all about reframing. I assumed that because I had been living according a certain schedule that I would be unhappy otherwise. I didn't consider that I might actually enjoy having my days free more. One of my classmates Vinessa wisely said that this is our last chance to enjoy our daylight hours before entering the full-time workforce, and I've come to appreciate that.
2. Making Friends: MHRMs are a friendly folk. Even after the first day of orientation I felt connected to my classmates, and some of my closest friends I've met through the program. You'll find that because a lot of MHRMs are transplants to Columbus, everyone is looking for a community.
Say yes. Take advantage of opportunities to be social with your classmates--and there are plenty. We tailgate together, go bowling together, see movies together, and even decompress on Thursdays after class at Varsity Club together. Position yourself in a living situation where you have easy access to activities and people you want to be around. This makes it much more convenient to say yes.
1. Housing: Although the first four are in no particular order, concerns about housing are perhaps the most common I hear about. Fortunately, we have a handy-dandy housing packet that is helpful in identifying different neighborhoods that Fisher graduate students are attracted to.
I hope these hacks are helpful in relieving some of the nervousness and uncertainty that comes with such a significant life transition. At the end of the day, I hope excitement prevails as you embark on a journey that will pay dividends for your future career success and happiness.