Higher Education & Student Affairs

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Lessons from the Past Year in Grad School

Sarah Madsen, Graduate Apprentice for Wellness

Sarah Madsen, Graduate Apprentice for Wellness

Hi everyone! My name is Sarah and I am a second-year in the HESA program. It feels so odd calling myself a second-year, because I can’t believe more than a year has passed since I arrived in Waco! This past year has been full of new friends, great conversations, late nights, and Baylor traditions. I have also been learning non-stop since last August, from how to plan and host a 5k (my apprenticeship is in Wellness) to what it means to be a scholar-practitioner in higher education.

In this post, I want to share some major lessons that I have learned during my first year as a grad student, in hopes of encouraging you on your own journey in student affairs.

  • Networking is valuable. As a grad student, there are so many opportunities to meet faculty and staff across campus. For example, serving on a committee alongside your supervisor is a great way to meet people from departments outside your own. In my experience, networking also helped me find a summer practicum, which I highly recommend doing!
  • Get to know your professors. The HESA program has incredible faculty members who are so committed to us, and getting to know them outside of class has been fruitful. As I get ready to graduate, their input and affirmation has been really valuable to me. I encourage you to drop by a professor’s office, talk to them after class, or even grab lunch or coffee with them.
  • Make time for things that fill you up. For me, grad school has been a season of busyness and growth. What has kept me happy and healthy and motivated are the life-giving passions and interests that I have continued to pursue. I love to read, bake, and share meals with others, and making time for those things (even if it means literally scheduling them into my Outlook calendar) has promoted my well-being throughout the past few semesters.
  • Time management can make or break you. In grad school, it can feel like you’re being pulled in so many directions. Scheduling my time (including time for rest and relaxation) has really helped me to stay on track and not feel overwhelmed. There are many ways to do this – from keeping a planner to using Outlook to jotting down notes – so find what works best for you.
  • Explore Waco. Over the summer, I had the chance to see more of Waco, and I wish I would have started learning more about the city before then. Waco is full of little treasures, and I recommend finding places and spaces that you enjoy visiting.
  • Have a long-term vision of grad school. I often struggle with thinking about life / school / work on a week-by-week basis only, and in doing so it’s easy to lose sight of why I am in grad school. Taking time to reflect on my goals, interests, future plans, and the work God is doing in and through my life has been one way that helps me keep the big picture in mind.

Grad school is hard, but also incredibly rewarding. I hope that what I’ve shared inspires you to really lean into this season of life, and embrace all that it has to offer.



yolande_graham • October 3, 2016

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