When I attended NLU for undergraduate studies, I was enrolled in the B.A. in Applied Behavioral Sciences (ABS) program, and it was an incredible experience. This interdisciplinary program is accelerated and intended for adults with significant life experience who have completed previous college coursework. The program is taught using a cohort model, which means I went through the entire program with the same group of students. There was such a trust and bond that formed that the cohort became like my new extended family.
One of the most noticeable differences between this kind of undergraduate program and graduate studies is the format or structure of the classes. In undergraduate studies the class sizes are often larger and based on lectures and textbooks, whereas in graduate school the classes are smaller and are taught in seminar and discussion formats. Graduate studies are far more academically intense and challenging, requiring a different level of time commitment, study and rigor to achieve academic success.
Graduate school will change your lifestyle in many ways, as I’ve found out in the M.S. in Written Communication program. I now view my graduate studies as a full-time job that occasionally requires some overtime. I have to maintain a balance in keeping the rest of my life in order, and at times it can be a little stressful. It is easy to become overwhelmed if you manage your time poorly and if you are not disciplined in sticking to a schedule. I am fortunate and grateful that I have the support of my family and friends, who encourage me and keep me focused.
In order to be a successful student at the grad level, you will need to embrace the increased autonomy. You will be responsible for ensuring that you finish your assignments; meet all of your deadlines; plan your thesis, dissertation and final project; and maintain enrollment status. Here are some more tips to help you …
Some advice to students who are considering graduate school
- Discuss your plans of going back to school with family and friends so they can find ways to support you.
- Become proficient in time management because balancing your studies, work, personal life and money can be overwhelming and stressful.
- Be prepared to make adjustments in your schedule. Be flexible. Sometimes events, conferences and other opportunities come up that will be good experiences.
- Please be sure of your field of study. It is much more difficult to change your major and transfer to another school’s graduate program because the structure can be very different from one university to another.
- Get to know your professors and classmates. Take advantage of networking opportunities. They may lead to opportunities for you in your field.
- Take advantage of all of the student resources offered by the university.
- Consider how you are going to pay for your education. Apply for financial aid, work study, scholarships, internships and/or student loans.