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Marcus Arvan

Johnny: Since no one else has chimed in yet, let me quickly say that I think your advice is invaluable.

First, I didn't do quite a few of these things when starting grad school -- and I paid for it. I didn't have a clear long-term plan, didn't write early and often, and wasn't proactive with faculty members (I just did my coursework and waited for someone to mentor me). Consequently, I soon found myself struggling to climb out of a very deep hole in grad school - one that I could have avoided.

Second, I was just speaking at the Eastern APA to a couple of grad students who *did* do the things you mention, and both of them seem to have had very positive, successful grad program experiences. I also saw grad students in my program who did what you did, and they tended to fare well too.

Anyway, I wish I did what they (and you) have done. You do indeed describe a good way to hit the ground running.

Johnny Brennan

Thanks, Marcus. These are lessons I also learned the hard way. During my MA I didn't take advantage of extra-curriculars, I didn't write early or often, and I wasn't proactive with faculty members (at least not as much as I could have been).

Part of the problem was that I had several part-time jobs to make ends meet, as I only had partial tuition coverage and no stipend (a lesson on the importance of getting full-funding!). However, much of it was my own timidness.

As I took time off from school, I knew it would only be worth going back if I could get the most out of the program by taking advantage of everything they had to offer. Having a baby and living nearly two hours from campus certainly cuts into my ability to do that, but I'm doing a much better job this time around and much happier with my progress so far.

Sarah Z.

Hey Johnny! Thank you so much for this post -- I've been experiencing a lot of anxiety about starting graduate school next year and wondering if I'll actually be able to succeed and keep up with everything -- so I really appreciated all of your sound and encouraging advice! It definitely helped me put things in perspective. Best of luck in your studies, and thanks again!

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