The Magic of an #SAGrad’s First Few Weeks: Prioritizing Involvement

In Residence Life, we often talk about the critical nature of a student’s first six weeks on campus to their campus engagement and academic success. I think the same can be said of a graduate student’s career. But beginning a  graduate program and balancing work, life, and academics is no easy task. So over the next few weeks, as many of you out there begin this next step in your academic and professional journey, I’ll share some tips for starting your career out on the right foot.

I remember when I first arrived on campus at the University of South Carolina at this time last year, I was inundated by emails from offices requesting help in everything from academic coaching to sorority recruitment to upcoming conferences. They all seemed like great opportunities, and I felt like I’d be missing out if I didn’t volunteer for everything. I imagine our program isn’t alone in offering some wonderful professional development, but I was also wary about overcommitting myself. Here are some simple tips to balance your involvement:
  1. Remember why you came to graduate school. Sure, every opportunity looks good on paper, but that doesn’t mean it will directly help you reach your goals. Your values are so important in crafting an experience that is unique to you. Refer back to your personal statements; chances are they will help remind you why you chose to come to grad school.
  2. Classes will eventually start. It seems silly, but starting my position a whole month before classes started made it hard to remember initially that I would soon be busy with academics.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say yes—to what you can handle. If opportunities align with your values, don’t be afraid to go for it. If you’re worried about over commitment, talk to your supervisor about the average number of hours you should realistically expect to work and second-years in your program about class workload. Hopefully, after adding those up, you still have some time to take advantage of opportunities around campus.
  4. Don’t be in a hurry. I am perpetually guilty of trying to professionally develop myself overnight, but be patient. As long as you’re actively paying attention to involvement opportunities, you’ll find the right fit.
Dillon Kimmel

Student Affairs - the First Years

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