So, You Got Into Grad School…Now What?

Adam Bantz

May 22, 2018

You did your research. You identified a plethora of graduate programs that checked your boxes and satisfied your non-negotiables. You fulfilled countless application requirements. You became best friends with your undergraduate institution’s registrar. You interviewed yourself hoarse. You exhausted the storage capacity of your email address. You received and accepted an offer of admission from an institution that will undoubtedly shape your future as a student affairs professional. You championed the admission process. So, you got into grad school… Now what?

Admission and assistantship offers are typically extended between the months of March and April; however, orientation to a program and/or institution does not take place until July or August. If you’re like me, the intermission between the moment you accept your offer of enrollment from a graduate school program and the commencement of the program itself can be an agonizing one.

So, you might be wondering what you can do in the interim… Here are a few simple action items you can fulfill to best position and prepare yourself to take full advantage of the forthcoming opportunity you have worked so hard for.

Connect with your future classmates

Whether your program follows a traditional cohort model, or you’ve never even heard the term “cohort”, you will undoubtedly have crossover in courses with any number of individuals within your program.

There are forums, such as the Future Student Affairs Grad Students Facebook page, through which you can connect to your future classmates and share in your excitement for your upcoming adventure. Additionally, some program directors or affiliate staff members will connect you and your future classmates via email, Facebook, or even GroupMe.

Take advantage of this opportunity to find a roommate or simply get to know the folks you will be taking on the graduate school journey with. Don't be shy! If you’re eager to meet people, chances are others are feeling the same.

Do your research…again

Take this time to become an expert on your program, assistantship site, and institution. This could decrease your learning curve and make the onboarding process easier for not only you, but also the faculty and staff associated with your program and assistantship.

Re-visit your program’s curriculum and determine what electives and/or concentrations you might be interested in pursuing. Take some time to peruse the webpage(s) of your assistantship site and, at the very least, familiarize yourself with the mission of the department. 

As for the institution, most colleges and universities advertise points of pride and traditions on their website. If you have the opportunity and accessibility, you could also reach out to the office of admission as request to join in on a campus tour.

Take advantage of NASPA resources

This is a shameless plug if I’ve ever wrote one... NASPA offers all kinds of resources for its members, including but not limited to: knowledge communities, such as the New Professionals and Graduate Students (NPGS) Knowledge Community (KC); professional development and volunteer opportunities at NASPA-sponsored events; as well as access to research-based publications on nearly any topic or functional area.

All of these resources can be accessed via NASPA’s easily navigable website. If you have questions about NASPA’s offerings or are looking to get involved, reach out to the membership coordinator for your region and/or state. This individual’s contact information is readily available on the NASPA website (Home > Constituent Groups > Regions > [Select Your Region] > Advisory Board).

Stop and breathe

During the latter half of my graduate school admission process, my #SAPro mentor shared the following quote by Mandy Hale with me, and I have found it to be applicable during this time of waiting as well: Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.

Applying to graduate school is no easy task, and the next two years be will inevitably bring their own host challenges and obstacles. Take advantage of this opportunity to relax and refresh. Few times in your professional career will you have time to simply enjoy the beauty of becoming.

Adam Bantz is a recent graduate of Butler University and is pursuing a master’s degree in College Student Personnel at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He enjoys iced coffee drinking, distance running, social justice advocating, and people loving. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ambantz.

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