This post seeks to provide information on what every graduate mom needs to know!
When I started graduate school, I applied to be a student blogger, and I got accepted! Out of over 80 applicants, only eight were selected…and I was one of them!
Ok, I know that sounds super random 🤣..let me explain…
On Sunday 08.08.2021, I visited the student blog, started reading my old articles, and stumbled upon my first blog post.
As I read through this blog post, I was pleasantly surprised.
My first blog post was titled, “7 tips that helped this mom start graduate school successfully”
This post was very important to me because I was balancing work, family, and graduate school.
Since I successfully graduated with my master’s, I thought of writing an updated follow-up post on here that is about tips that helped me successfully graduate!
Some of my tips are similar to my previous list, but I added more insight and new information to inspire you to know that Grad school is indeed doable!
Ultimately, you will discover that if this path is for you….it boils down to MINDSET.
Ready? Let’s go!
9 tips that every graduate student mom needs to know to succeed!
1. Be passionate about your graduate school pursuit
Ensure that you are genuinely passionate about your graduate course.
As a mom, you will be juggling multiple things or wearing various hats. You want to ensure that you really set yourself up for success by having passion.
Chances are, if you aren’t passionate, you will likely be miserable or find it challenging to manage difficult seasons in your graduate school.
More information about the importance of passion:
When I became a full-time student pursuing a master’s with a clinical specialization, I had just given birth to my 3rd child, I had to leave my son with my aunt when he was 6 weeks old so that I could attend a full day’s orientation.
When I looked around the room, I noticed that I was the only one walking around with a nursing pump. I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb.
My peers often asked me, “Oh, how old is your child” and when I responded, they would be shocked.
However, I think my passion really drove me to stick through my graduate school pursuit and ultimately graduate among the top of my class with a 4.0 G.P.A!
2. Plan and Research Adequately
I remember really searching for the university that I wanted to join two years before I joined.
Why? I wanted to ensure that it was an excellent fit for me. Plus, I also wanted the ranking and accreditation of the university to be good. (If I was investing in something, it had to be well worth it!)
One thing I also did was I visited the school website numerous times and asked people who had gone through the program I was interested in.
To limit the commute, I also wanted the university to be close to my home and children’s daycare.
Another tip: Check and see if they have satellite campuses where you can take a couple of classes.
Ultimately, when I was joining, I felt that I knew what to expect in every phase.
I anticipated the problematic classes. I also got an inside idea of what field placements would be best for my family-work-motherhood life balance.
Some classes had test-taking times that didn’t work for me. So I chose not to select those classes.
3. Flexible Employment/ Is employment for you?
When I started graduate school, I worked full-time as a senior specialist in a very demanding position.
The following was what I researched and also asked H.R. about:
-What tuition reimbursement options are there, and what stipulations come with taking it. Sometimes some jobs require you to stay for one additional year after receiving the reimbursement.
-Flexibility to allow early departure to go to classes.
-Telecommute options (if applicable).
-Adjusted schedule to complete internship or field placements.
Everything worked well for me, but I realized that it would be challenging to juggle everything adequately when I started my clinical field placements. So I decided to resign from my job.
You have to be realistic about how much you can stretch or extend yourself.
If your graduate school doesn’t require placement or internship, maintaining a job can be something you could do!
4. Early registration
I bet you that I was always the first person who completed registration. (insert laughs).
Trust me; you don’t want to overhaul your life and mommy routines for one class!
-Research classes beforehand and ensure you are following the course completion plan that your program has outlined.
-Ensure you don’t have any administration locks or flags that prevent you from registering.
-Write down all your registration codes and corresponding classes.
–Get on a waitlist for a class that fills up fast. Especially if it works beautifully with your set routine!
–Have backup classes in case there are registration issues
–Write down the contact information for your academic advisor or office of records and registration. Sometimes there are technical glitches that are beyond you (hey- it happens!). You can swiftly reach out to them if you have their contact in handy.
5. Support Systems
I always took the initiative to approach my family members to block their time if I had a test that I needed to do uninterrupted.
You will realize that support systems are super important. I always had my aunt and husband available to me if I had to do a test.
Once I did a complete test when my little one was taking his nap, I would never advise that…it was nerve-racking just thinking of him waking up!
6. Ask for Help
Universities have so many resources at your disposal.
There is student counseling, peer support & writing assistance with writing centers. Please take advantage of them!
And on the point of student counseling/therapy…addressing negative thoughts can be really important when you embark on your graduate school endeavor.
If you need accommodations, please ensure that you seek out that assistance!
Organization was key to graduating successfully. I managed my kids’ school calendars and calendars and coordinated with my husband on pick-ups and drop-offs.
I was super organized with this.
Since I didn’t want my husband to forget the kids’ schedules, I got my kids’ programs written down on the large magnetic fridge calendar with important dates and early releases.
This made it so much easier for us to coordinate.
Organization also helped me plan how to work on assignments and papers in segments. Those 30-page papers are no joke! I also wrote down every assignment and deadline.
8. Stress Management Plan or Self-Care Plan
In one of my classes, we came up with a stress management plan. I found this extremely helpful because it helped me anticipate any barriers to self-care and implement a stress management plan that works.
I hope to share more about how to create one in the future. It’s super helpful, and it works.
9. Expect the unexpected; Adjust
As much as you plan and put structures in place, we need to understand that not everything is linear- especially in motherhood. You never know when one child may come back with a stomach bug from school.
My adjustment came when I took the gap year 2018-2019. I was pregnant at that time with my 3rd child. That’s when I also decided to leave my full-time employment and focus entirely on my schooling. So, I graduated in 3 years instead of 2.
I must say, it was well worth it. Don’t stress. Leave a bit of wiggle room!
and that’s it, what every graduate mom needs to know to succeed!
In conclusion, what I noticed is that being a mom didn’t make me any different from any other student. I think it helped me succeed.
Ultimately it boils down to mindset.
If your mind and heart are in it, you will find ways to complete your papers and complete them well!
I honestly worked so hard to ensure that graduate school worked for me in my life. I saw myself embracing curve balls as they came and just making it become rigged to my favor. Structures were pivotal to help me successfully graduate.
When I received my degree, I was super happy and proud- I did it, and guess what, Mom- you can do it too!
I wish you the very best in your graduate education pursuit!