6 Tips for a Successful Graduate School Transition

Congratulations, it’s early-spring and GradSchoolShopper.com has helped you find and get accepted into your dream school! Below, we’ve created a list of six important actions you should take to create a seamless transition into the world of graduate school.


GradSchoolShopper's class of 2014 celebrates the upcoming graduation.  Photo Credit: EbonyG00052_LuMaxArt; 2014

GradSchoolShopper’s class of 2014 celebrates the upcoming graduation.
Photo Credit: EbonyG00052_LuMaxArt; 2014 


  1. Submit administrative forms immediately. There is nothing more discouraging than arriving on campus and finding out you aren’t registered as an official student, or your financial aid/scholarship package hasn’t been approved. Plan to consult with enrollment and admissions staff a few months in advance to make sure you have submitted all the required academic, medical and financial documentation.
  2. Network early. Grad school, like undergrad, is a place to establish lifelong personal and professional connections. Contact your admissions office and/or search your school’s online database for information about other incoming students. Utilize social media to initiate contact and foster a “virtual” relationship with your new fellow grad students.
  3. Research the curriculum and professors. Use your current undergraduate resource center and other online resources to print out all the course syllabi available for your upcoming courses immediately. Use tools such as http://www.ratemyprofessor.com to evaluate the quality of your upcoming professors and make adjustments accordingly.  Use the department’s web site and GradSchoolShopper.com to become more familiar with the faculty, their research interests, and their labs/research groups.
  4. Investigate ways to integrate. Start to research clubs, organizations and student government programs offered at your future graduate school. Consider spearheading an organization based on your personal interest. Clubs and organizations are great places to not only establish a network, but they also offer an opportunity to gain professional skills and experience in leadership. Take advantage of these opportunities!
  5. Sharpen your skillsets. By virtue of all your research prior to entering grad school, you should get a strong idea of some of the courses and skills required for success. Utilize your free time to fortify your weak academic and personal traits.
  6. Prepare for post-grad life. Even though you haven’t formally begun classes, it’s important to lay a foundation for your life beyond graduate school. Take advantage of your time before school begins to speak with your professors and career counselors about internships and other professional opportunities to gain work experience during graduate school. Experience is an indispensable attribute in the workplace. 

Essentially, make the process of preparing for grad school stimulating. Use the above suggestions to ensure a congenial transition into the world of graduate academia.


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Advice to Students

The best thing you can do as an undergraduate or early graduate student is get as broad a training as possible, in both science and communications.
Communication skills are extremely important, especially to aspiring scientists. Scientific research is funded as a public good by the federal government and various institutions. To get this funding you must compete with many others who want the same funding.
— Dr. Fred Dylla, Executive Director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics, Podcast Episode #4

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