Looking to go back to college to obtain a graduate degree? While going back to college is certainly a commendable choice, you’ll soon find that the demands for graduate school are significantly different than those of undergraduate. Many grad students have found that they’re required to be a lot more independent as they take on larger course loads and increased demands from instructors. However, before delving into career related subjects, tests, and deadlines, those interested in attending graduate school will first need to complete the extensive application process.
The Stress of the Application Process
If you recall applying for your undergraduate degree, you’re probably wondering why so many students find the graduate application process to be so challenging. The truth of the matter is that the application process for entering graduate school is a lot more challenging than undergrad. For example, a student interested in graduate programs at Gwynedd Mercy University for nursing, business, and education would have to complete the following:
- Online application
- Have a GPA of at least 3.0
- Have two references (who can also provide a letter of recommendation)
- Submit original transcripts from previously attended schools
- Have industry experience
- Submit copies of necessary licenses
- Complete an essay (nursing students)
- Complete a personal goal statement
When you consider the idea that all of this needs to be completed within a specified amount of time, you can imagine why some students become overly stressed.
Signs You’re Really Stressed Out
Everyone handles stress differently. One student might become stressed just by reviewing the list of requirements for the graduate application, while another student might stress when trying to write an essay or secure letters of recommendations from employers or previous educators. While some stress is to be considered normal, too much can really begin to weigh on the body causing your performance to diminish. Because the life of a college student is often stressful from one day to the next, it can be difficult to determine when you’ve reached the boiling point. Knowing yourself and being aware of how your body reacts to stress is important. Below are a few common indicators that you’re dealing with too much stress:
- Trouble focusing
- Worrying all the time
- Missing classes
- Change in mood (anger, agitation)
- Muscle tightness or soreness
- Eating too much or too little
- Difficulty sleeping
If you’ve experienced any of the following for a prolonged period of time, it could indicate that you’re dealing with a significant amount of stress. Learning healthy and positive ways to release the stress is imperative to your physical and mental health.
Tips to Reduce and Manage Stress
There are plenty of ways in which you can begin to reduce the amount of stress you’re under when applying for graduate school. While the changes may take time to adapt to, you will begin to notice an immediate difference in your overall well being.
- Manage Your Responsibilities – Time Management
One of the most challenging things about the graduate application process is keeping up with all of your responsibilities. Selecting the appropriate graduate program, submitting an application, tracking down reputable references and securing a letter of recommendation, and completing an essay all within a short period of time can become overwhelming. Utilizing various tools to manage your time more effectively can help to cut down on some of the stress.
- Use scheduling apps or online calendars to help you sort out your agenda on the daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Set reminders so that you have ample time to get things done without feeling overwhelmed.
- When creating an agenda, be sure not to overwhelm yourself as this can cause more stress. For example, it probably isn’t best to try and cram the essay and your personal goal statement into a few days when you’re also holding down a full time job. Give yourself enough time and space to get everything done accordingly.
- Prioritize and pace yourself. Doing too much at once or trying to get it all done in a short period of time will certainly diminish the quality of your application. Put the tasks you have to complete in order of importance and begin completing them one by one until you’ve finished the application in its entirety.
- Take Care of Yourself
Believe it or not the application process for graduate school can leave you feeling less than happy. Too much stress can really compromise your health in the long run. As such, it is important to take care of yourself.
- Eat a well balanced meal. It can be difficult to eat properly when you’re wondering about your application. Wondering whether you’ve submitted everything you need, and if your application will be accepted can take its toll. You need your three square meals a day to keep you energized and focused.
- Get plenty of sleep. A huge list of things to do on top of the internal stressors you have as it pertains to entering graduate school can cause restlessness. As hard as it might be to sleep, this too is important to prevent low quality performance.
- Take your mind off of things. After you’ve submitted all the necessary information for your graduate program, it is important not to stress about your acceptance or denial into the school of your choice. You can go hang out with friends, pick up a hobby, focus on something work related, or participate in fun physical activities like bicycling to keep your mind off of things.
There is no doubt that you won’t experience some level of stress as you strive to complete the application for enrollment into graduate programs. While some stress can be good for helping to push you in the right direction, too much stress can really start to weigh on you heavily. Learning effective ways to manage your stress such as time management and caring for your physical well-being can all be beneficial in helping to improve your quality of life and get through the application process with ease. Before you know it, you’ll be delving head first into new studies that will open the door for new opportunities in your life.