Surviving Graduate School

Deciding to go back to school is a big decision and what makes it more complicated is that there is never a perfect time. For me personally going back shortly after completing my undergraduate degree worked for me as I was still used to homework and “school” type life.   It was difficult though as I was balancing work, planning a wedding and going to school.

Time Management

My planner was my best friend while I was taking classes. I made it a point to make sure my calendar was up to date with all of my events and homework assignments. I would even suggest scheduling time to do homework, for me this helped since I had time set aside to work on assignments and was not rushed at the last minute to complete them. If you are not a huge time scheduler then I would suggest a to do list for each day. Make sure you include everything you need to get done (homework, work out, etc) but make sure it is a reasonable list or you will get discouraged.


Things will always come up, they always do. A last minute party with friends, an unexpected business trip out of town or even getting sick are just a few things that you will have to deal with while in school. Knowing this up front and knowing you can not control everything will be a huge help as it will help you not to stress about it as much. When things come up, stay calm and then just get started back on your list. This was a huge thing for me since I am such a planner and when my “plans” did not go as planned I would get very frustrated. And then instead of work on accomplishing what I needed to get done, I would just stress over how much I needed to accomplish (I wasted a lot of time doing this).

Finding Time to Have Fun

Between working and school, it is important to find time to have fun. With out scheduling “fun” time into your schedule you will quickly burn out. For me this was actually something I had to schedule in my week or else I would find a million excuses since I did not have my assignments complete. You will be very busy but trust me this is a must!

Support System

Having a strong support system of family and friends was crucial to me getting through school. My husband was great by always providing encouragement when I wanted to give up. It is also important for your family to understand how big of a time commitment school is. There were time when my husband and friends would get frustrated that I didn’t have as much time to just hang out but after my first “melt down”, they began to understand the stress of going back to school. After that they were very supportive and encouraging. They gave me space to study and appreciated the time we were able to have together.

As stressful and challenging as it was going back to school to get my MBA, I would not trade it for anything. During this time I learned how to balance many things at once and learned a lot from the classes and students in my class. Another major benefit to graduate school is that you are able to work and go to school at the same time which allows you to apply what  you are actually learning at the same time. Being a young professional this greatly helped me stand out among my peers and opened up several opportunities for me.

I understand perfectly that going back to school isn’t an easy step, but there are so many solutions now that lack of time isn’t an excuse anymore. I decided to register and go to classes at the university near me; but you can also find online programs that are really manageable. Schools have been developing online classes to help active professionals to get their Master degree of Business Administration while having a full time job. So why hesitate on improving your life and career?

Do you have any tips for surviving graduate school? Are you thinking about going back to get your graduate degree?

Amanda Peterson

Amanda Peterson graduated from Grace College with a Business Administration and Marketing Degree and then Aurora University with her MBA. She currently lives in Indianapolis , IN and works in purchasing. In her spare time she loves to do photography, any type of home improvement project and of course spending time with her husband and their two Yorkipoos (Max & Dolce). Follow Amanda on Twitter @AmandaColbart .