Surviving Grad School

Grad school is tough. Mental breakdowns happen. So how do I get through it? Here are a few things that helped me through my first semester:

Organized notes
Simply organizing my files and notes helped me in the long run! Having everything (including textbooks) on Google Drive or Dropbox allowed me to work across multiple devices, which increased my productivity and time management. With iPad apps like Notability I could download notes, mark/highlight them, and have it automatically sync back to my computer. With organized folders and syncing, I didn’t waste energy looking for notes when it came to exam time.


Study habits
I quickly learned that my study habits in undergrad wouldn’t get me through my first semester of grad school. Being proactive and knowing my habits (both the good and bad) helped me understand what I needed to change. Setting up daily to-do lists and keeping a planner kept me focused. I’m very goal-oriented, so setting up a schedule of my day gets those to-do boxes checked off of my or Wunderlist lists.

Creating study guides for each exam helped me learn and retain information, and were also perfect for exams and finals. One app that I would highly recommend purchasing for a Mac is the BetterSnap Tool! I’ve tested out other free apps similar to this, but BetterSnap has been the best! The tool allows me to automatically resize windows depending on where it is dragged. I can quickly manage multiple windows on my screen, helping me efficiently read notes while typing out study guides. This app is not great just for school, but also general use. Kathy has it on her laptop too! The $1.99 price is worth every penny.

Learning to learn is also a continual process! Reflecting after each semester helps me evaluate what changes worked, what changes need to be made, and how I can better my study skills.

Live life
Sometimes I found myself losing touch with reality but what kept me grounded was having family and friends for support! Running a blog allowed me to take mini breaks and plan for fun events with Kathy. Working out (although rare my first semester) with my boyfriend was a nice and healthy distraction. Finding the time for myself was one of the most important things I realized in my first semester of grad school.

Kathy’s advice for me (she has finished 3 years of grad school and is now working)

  • Manage your time well so you can enjoy life because “I need to study” shouldn’t always be an excuse.
  • Gain as much experience as you can. There’s a safety net when you’re a student so it’s ok to try and make mistakes. Working in the real world means more responsibilities, so learn as much as you can while you are in school/clinicals!
  • Make a good impression and network! You never know who can help you out in the future.


  • Carly says:

    Great post! I’m back in grad school again (this time for school librarianship. I’m currently a teacher) and I love all the app tips! It’s hard to go back to school while also working, so any help I can get to organize my time is great. Will definitely be trying them out :-)

  • Morgan says:

    This is a really great post. I’m thinking about heading back to grad school in the next year or so and I’ll definitely keep these ideas in mind. Ever since we were younger you’ve always been great at studying, it’s good to see you’re doing well in post-undergrad. Keep kicking butt, babe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *