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How to Succeed From Day One of Graduate School in 6 Steps

My first day of graduate school was one of terror: fear that I was in the wrong program, fear that I was going to fail, and fear that I was an impostor soon to be found out. I felt overwhelmed as I flipped through one of my course syllabi, struggling to figure out how on earth I'd fit in the readings while working on the end-of-the-semester paper. And that was just one course.

Such feelings are normal, of course. But just because a fear is normal, doesn't mean it's unavoidable. Such panic can be demystified with proper technique, and learning that technique is the whole point of The Tao of Graduate School.

The path to ensuring success on your first day or week of graduate school revolves around both reading and writing, many of which should be tackled immediately after the syllabus is put in your hands.

Here are 6 steps to succeed from your very first day of graduate school:

1. Identify the major assignments in the course and begin planning immediately

Cups Full of Knowledge

On Mike Dariano

I didn't know how to make soup. I knew how to open a can or say "Yes, I'd like soup with my meal" but I didn't know how to really make soup. Now I do.

Thanks to some help from my wife's uncle I made six quarts of soup. The soup is tasty but more delicious is the knowledge. I've gone from being given a fish to a fishing pole.

The steps for making the soup included chopping vegetables, something I do all the time but also included new tasks like making beans from a bag and using a ham hock for the broth. I didn't know how to do either of things. Now I do.

I love trying, making, and sometimes failing with new food and of all the new-ish foods I've cooked recently, this is the one that's been the most rewarding because it reminds me the most about writing.

I'm writing a book. It might not be any good. It might not sell any copies. It might be a waste of time and money. I'm still doing it.

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