Graduate Study Challenges and Strategies for Success Today’s graduate students face several challenges. They are completion of assigned tasks, effective time management, mastering APA guidelines successfully, and balancing home, family, work, and school. Coming up with effective strategies for managing each will be addressed in this paper. The first challenge is to complete all assigned tasks in a timely manner. A good strategy is to create a list of ‘need to do’s’. This gives the student a reference point for beginning any assignment.
For example, if one were to go through and check off each task as completed, there would be a better chance of keep oneself organized and focused on the goal. (Krammer, 2007) Keeping a journal is another strategy for staying on task. Writing down thoughts and ideas when one has them ensures that they will be available when the student goes to compile them in an organized way. A journal can be a sounding board for one’s ideas. As the student thinks of new ideas and writes them down, he or she can come back to the journal at a different time, and make corrections with a clear, independent outlook. Perna, 2004) Time management is perhaps the most important challenge to overcome on the quest for completing graduate school. Many times, the graduate student finds himself or herself with a full time job and family obligations, in addition to the awesome requirements of graduate school. The ability to manage each successfully will make the job of succeeding at each more rewarding. Journaling may support development of critical thinking, which is very important for successful completion of online graduate studies. (Astleitner, 2002) Critical thinking is a mental activity.
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The practice of critical thinking involves writing, engaging coworkers and family members in one’s thoughts and ideas. Including one’s boss in the decision to return to graduate school, may allow for an easier time with rearrangement of work schedules to meet course deadlines. One strategy for being a good manager of time is to plan for everything. The successful graduate student will set up specific times for class. Unlike the traditional classroom, where classes take place at a particular time on a particular day, the online classroom has no such schedule.
The student will need to plan for this and make efforts to keep up with ‘class time. ‘ For example, a student works full time, comes home and helps his or her children with their homework, next blocks out two hours for school, and finally, spends quality time with his or her partner. This seems an overwhelming task. However, sticking to a set schedule will enable success with the goal, especially if the family participates in the setting of schedules. Another challenge facing the 2009 graduate student, is mastering APA format for paper completion.
APA continues to evolve as potential references evolve with electronic media. Many resources are available for the graduate student to help master APA format. One resource is the APA sample paper provided by the University of Phoenix. Other resources include many APA software programs that are available and the APA manual. Perhaps the best way to learn how to write for graduate school is to practice. Just as one would practice to learn how to play the piano, the graduate student should practice to learn how to write for school.
Journaling will be helpful with this situation as well. Ideas placed in the journal, could one day find its way into a graduate thesis. Enrolling in graduate school may be one of the biggest decisions that an individual makes in life, second only to the decision to get married and have children. One should approach this decision with the same amount of thoughtful consideration. Once the student has made the decision to return to school, the goal to complete this task is the next decision. Then all useful strategy considerations are placed in an effort to achieve this goal.
The reasons to strive for a graduate degree are usually personal and professional. One chooses to attend graduate school for the personal satisfaction of an advanced degree. He or she strives to be the best in the chosen field by becoming a master of nursing. Professionally, the individual is looked upon as a leader in the field. By identifying, the challenges associated with attaining a higher degree and putting into place strategies to overcome each challenge as it presents, the student will be better able to deal with these roadblocks and attain self-defined goals.
References Astleitner, Hermann. (2002). Teaching critical thinking online. The Journal of Instructional Psychology, 29(2), 53+. Perna, Laura W. (2004). Understanding the decision to enroll in graduate school: sex and racial/ethnic group differences. The Journal of Higher Education, 75(5), 487+. Krammer, Linda Weston. (2007). A personal reflection: Graduate study challenges and strategies for success. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, 26(4), 158-159.