What is your Grad school routine?



my desk

Whenever I tell people I am in graduate school, the most common question I hear is “how do you do it?” They ask this because in addition to graduate school, where I doubled up twice: I oversee a team of 30, travel every two weeks or so, am married and have twin four year olds. I must admit, during the last two years, there are times when I have not done any of those things well and I definitely could not have done it without a supportive husband. So how did I do it? Get into a routine and stick to it; that routine might mean your normal routine is no longer normal.

I always order my book(s) before the semester begins, which allows me to read the first two chapters of the main book ahead of time. Have I had a teacher start in the middle of the book? Yes, but either way the chapters I have read usually help me get into the mindset of the class and I can typically use them for citations.

The next thing I do is create a folder on my desktop for the current class so that I can work on it no matter where I am (I back the folder up on Google Drive). I also create a new bookmark folder for the current class (I then move each class to a school master bookmark folder). You could use Pinterest, One Note or any other bookmarking tool to do this. I highly recommend doing this as I have used these bookmarks in multiple classes and I usually remember which class I wrote about the topic, making it easier to find. From there, it is time to create a couple of Word documents; one for the weekly discussion board posts and one for the weekly writing assignments. On the discussion board posts, I copy the weekly assignments onto the document and write below it. This helps me ensure that I am hitting all the points of the discussion and that I have the question for reference if something similar comes up in another class. I also put each week’s new question at the top. I do this so it is documented and doesn’t take me scrolling down, but also because I find that I use a lot of references more than once and I can copy and paste within the document. For the Word document, I create a template of sorts, with my title page, header/footer to the appropriate class. I also set the overall section heads and a few reference examples so I do not forget the format.

Once the class is on blackboard, I download all of the extra readings and put them in weekly folders within my class folder. I review the first week’s assignment before the lesson. I do this because it gives me an idea of what we are going to be writing about. I will copy the weekly discussion post into my document as well as the weekly writing assignment. When I am reading the lesson, I can pull quotes from the materials that I may want to cite. This also allows me, when I am able to multitask, to look for relevant articles online and bookmark them.

Aside from the first week, I typically try to do all of the reading between Sunday and Monday. I try to have my weekly discussion board posts written and up on Tuesday. I respond to four of my classmates on Thursday morning, I wake up at 430 am most days so I can get this out of the way before my real job starts. Over the course of the last few semesters, I have actually modified this slightly but by Thursday night, my minimum of four is typically done. On Friday during the day and evening I reply to anyone who has responded to my post.

As far as my papers during the week, as I mentioned I am trying to find relevant articles and figure out my approach or topic. On Friday, depending on how many replies, I will begin the writing process. Saturday evening I will usually finish writing my paper and I post it on Sunday after I have read it one more time. When I doubled up I had to do more writing throughout the week and even during the day on the weekends. Finishing the papers Sunday allowed me to start the next week’s work.

Between traveling and work events, I never know when I will have time to do school work. In addition, there is usually one night a week that I fall asleep by 9 pm; call it a combination of physical and mental exhaustion but I just have to roll with it. Having my homework done ahead of time allowed me not to panic in any of these situations.

The hardest semester for me was summer. You see in Michigan it is really hard to stay inside ;). Don’t get me wrong, there have been huge sacrifices, virtually no exercising, not spending enough time with my family and way too much caffeine. But overall it has been totally worth it!

2 Responses to “What is your Grad school routine?”

  1. jrclorley Says:

    The no exercise part has been killing me! I’ll finish my capstone in a few months and I cannot wait to be active again. I’m not going to know what to do with all the free time, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Good luck to you!

    • Whitney Drake Says:

      My husband recently asked me what was going to replace school, I think he is a bit concerned. Here’s to reuniting with the gym and free time, best of luck!

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