In less than 300 days I’ll be finishing up classes and graduating from graduate school. In honor of being a year out from obtaining my second degree I figured it’s time to list out my goals for the next year.
- Pick where I want to live by January 2019. I could go the distance.
- Discover where I want to work. I’ve got to put my degrees to good use.
- Successfully manage my free time and school time. I don’t want this last year to go to waste.
- Make time to travel at least once a semester. There’s so much of the world left to be seen.
This upcoming year is mine to conquer. In honor of my final victory lap I claim these goals! What are some of yours?
Bold title right? All my life I was told that school comes first. I operated on this mentality. When I was a kid I would get my homework done and then my parents would grant me passage to go outside and play with my friends until the sunset. In undergrad, I was incredibly responsible and wouldn’t go out or to any event until my homework was completed my weekends were free of textbooks, deadlines, and assignments. This method granted me passage to a school free, fun fueled weekend that required hours of recovery rest on Sundays. While my technique sounds value, and let’s be honest it helped me maintain my stellar grades and have a lot of fun, it wasn’t that simple when I entered graduate school.
The thing is graduate school almost never stops. The information you receive is compounded and useful on almost every element of your degree. When you finish one assignment or paper you can guarantee that there’s another one simply waiting for you on the syllabus. Due to this never ending cycle of things to do it’s easy to get lost in your school work. It’s easy to put school first and only focus on that. But at what cost? The cost of being so stressed out that you quarantine yourself? Or so busy you don’t have time for anything other than schoolwork and work-work? Well my friends, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be like that. While there are a number of incredibly important things that should come before school, not down playing how incredibly important school is, but if there are number of things in our lives that demand our time, dedication, and focus and as a graduate student there are probably more than one can count on both hands. From my experience, one of the most overlooked and undervalued of those is health; whether it is your mental health or physical health. Your well-being trumps school but the best part about your well-being is that when your health is in order your life tends to follow suit. From my experience when I’ve worked out and my physical health is in order, my mind is clear from mental distractions and I’m ready to take on any and everything the world (and School) have for me. For me, my thing is going to the gym every morning at 6:45 AM. Starting my day at the gym allows me to clear my head of the day before and do something nice for me. It gives me the energy I need to conquer all of those things that require my attention through the day. So today I challenge you think about that Thing that you can put before school. The things that will fuel you and rest your mind and help you become the student you want to be. For me it’s the gym. For you it could be family time, fishing, golfing, running, or simply watching Netflix. Find your thing and do it! Put you before school.
By: Rachel Bediako
There’s no easy way to put this, graduate school is hard. No one really advertised it as being simple but in the grand scheme of things us students wouldn’t mind if it was. You’re learning an abundance of useful material while simultaneously balancing homework, relationships, families, full time jobs, part time jobs, and if you are lucky a social life. With graduate school comes a lot of late night study sessions, a lot of missed events, and a whole lot of prioritization. But don’t panic, the work is so much more enjoyable than undergraduate because you’re able to take what you’ve learned and implement it in your daily life. With the discipline and hard work comes a lot of pressure. Pressure to succeed, to get the grade, and to simply be your best. Through all of this constant need to work and be balanced we have to hold onto our hope. To center myself (and let’s be honest simply stay sane) I have put the following quote in the reminders section of my phone:
“Hope is a central part of our life force. Never surrender your hope. We know life comes in cycles and an upturn can be just around the corner. Hope helps us struggle through the desperate times. It guides us through the dark. While you have options, you have hope” – Proverb
I read this quote every single day at 2:00 pm. Honestly, the point in the day when I’m most exhausted and shifting gears from employee to student. Sometimes at 2:00 I’m rushing to get my homework done, planning out my day, staying late at work, or simply taking a deep breathe. Sometimes I’m on a downturn and, stressed out or simply overwhelmed and other times I’m on top of the world. Regardless, no matter what is going on in my day I’m reminded that while I have options I have hope. And that’s why we’re in graduate school right? To expand our options and greet the doors that have been patiently waiting for us to open them? I’m hopeful every single day and I’m thankful that graduate school was an option. I’m glad that bettering myself was an option; one that I chose every single day.
By: Rachel Bediako
In August of 2017, I made my first major move. I left my family and friends and moved to Buffalo, New York, a place where I had little history but was about to become my home. To my surprise, I’ve learned more in these last few months than I did in my four years as an undergrad. Having almost completed my first year in graduate school, I want to share the things that got me from then to now:
- Find time to work on and maintain your physical health. Your mental wellbeing and overall health will thank you.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone. Moving to a new city alone can quickly get lonely but you never know where a potential friend can be found.
- Explore your city. Yes, adjusting to grad school can be stressful but staying inside by yourself can be even more stressful. Get out there and see what your city has to offer (FYI: Buffalo rocks!)
- Savor your alone time. Sometimes just taking a minute to think and reflect on yourself is just as great as exploring your surroundings.
- Don’t be afraid to rely on your support systems. Call your people, reach out! Tell them you miss them, or you love them, or plan a visit. Do not isolate yourself.
- Your work friends (whether you have a graduate assistantship, a full time job, or a part time job) will become some of your favorite people.
- It’s OK to fail or get lost in your new city (even with a GPS). Do not panic just keep moving forward.
- Google is a beautiful tool for almost all the questions you have (like where can I go to get my car fixed?)
- It doesn’t take long to make your new city your home. Buffalo isn’t a bad place to be! Who doesn’t want to study in a city that has weekly festivals and daily activities and food trucks!?
- Find a sleep schedule that allows you to feel like your best self. (Hint: go to sleep and get up at the same time every day).
This move has challenged every aspect of my life and I couldn’t be more grateful for Canisius taking a chance on me or Buffalo welcoming me with open arms.
By: Rachel Bediako
A little over a year ago I had a meltdown during my International Communication class. I will never forget sitting in the second to last row and reflecting on where my life was going. I was 21 years old, had one semester left in undergrad, and had no plan. The majority of my friends were signing contracts with businesses, deciding which post-grad internship would help shape their resumes, or raving about the new cities they would explore while in graduate school. Meanwhile, I was breaking down. The only thing I knew was that I would be directing a summer camp, which would be over at the end of August.
So I did what any intelligent person would do. I pulled out my phone and googled “communication graduate programs.” To give you a little background I changed my major five times in undergrad before choosing communication. I learned at an early age that public speaking was my passion and talking in general was my favorite sport. I started as a telecommunication major but after a year of being told what to do, I decided to find a major that would teach me the art of communication and the freedom of expression. I stumbled upon a webpage with hundreds of potential programs. Did I mention that I was in the middle of Bowling Green, Ohio at the time? If you’ve never heard of it I totally get it because no one has. It was my hidden treasure and it was breaking my heart just thinking about leaving, but I had to make a decision and I was not ready to go into the work force — partially because I did not prepare and partially because I was not 35 and could not run for president. As I continued my search I knew that home (Cleveland, OH) was out of the question. I kept scrolling until I found a major that I loved and a school that I could not pronounce. The program was called Communication and Leadership and the school was Canisius College. I sat there stunned because I knew that communication was my life and leadership has always been second nature. For the rest of my hour and fifteen-minute class, I researched the program and got just enough information to answer all of the questions I knew my parents would throw my way.
The moment class was over I ran outside and called my mom. I didn’t even let her say hello and began explaining that I wasn’t ready to be a full time employee, how I saw myself continuing my education, and my desire to add more degrees to my wall. I told her that I found a school, a program, and I was determined to go. She didn’t even question it. In her wonderful mom tone, she said “Ok. Do what you’ve gotta do.” That was in October 2016. By March 2017, I had completed my application, visited Buffalo, and was accepted into the Communication and Leadership program while simultaneously scrambling to figure out how I would finance school (don’t worry I figured it out). Stay tuned for my next post to read about the 10 things graduate school has taught me thus far.