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Graduate Study Challenges and Strategies for Success

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Graduate Study Challenges and Strategies for Success

A task can seem monumental when trying to visualize the entire thing; breaking it down into smaller goals can make it become manageable. This perception of the human mind is often times our worst enemy. Jamie Paolinetti once said that limitations live only in our minds, but if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become endless. Graduate school was a must no matter what stumbling blocks I had to endure to reach my goal. Being a working single mother my entire student life I knew that time management, stress and my finances would play an important role in my completion of any degree plan I decided to pursue - online or otherwise.

Time management was my main priority simply because I was determined to maintain my family life. I like to think of myself as highly organized. I carry around a planner that I keep everything imaginable in. I take it everywhere I go and pull it out for everything I plan. I always knew that I wanted to go back to school - well I actually never wanted to quit. However, I knew that I had responsibilities to my daughter, having already put her partially on the back-burner to complete my BSN. However, at the same time I still felt incomplete and knew that I had to figure out a way to make it work - people say women have a knack for that. I knew that if a graduate degree was something I wanted - I had to get my priorities in check. Literature suggests that successful time management starts with identifying your time related needs and preferences (Carter, Bishop & Kravits, 2007).


The text states that "successful time management starts with identifying your time related needs and preferences" (Carter, Bishop & Kravits, 2007). When each class starts you should sit down with your syllabus and planner and write down all due dates. This way you know exactly what direction you are headed in - no surprises. I always learned that if you get organized in the beginning - you stay on track.


With your planner you can keep track of assignments, events, commitments, and rank tasks according to priority. Some events, commitments and information worth putting in your planner include the following (Carter, Bishop & Kravits, 2007):

* Test and quiz dates

* Due dates for papers, projects, and presentations

* Details of your academic schedule, including semester and holiday breaks


Use to-do-lists to help you prioritize your day. The text suggests writing items out so that you can identify priorities and then transfer them to your planner (text). To-do lists will help you prioritize and get things done in order of importance (Carter, Bishop & Kravits, 2007).

Time management can truly be your best friend if you follow these steps. Home suggests that combining higher education and family is especially problematic, as both are "greedy" institutions that demand exclusive loyalty, virtually unlimited time commitments, and high flexibility" (Home, 1997).

Stress! Did I really need more? Well, of course, it seems that I need stress like I need air and water - it is necessary for my survival (and I think to my success). I have always worked, been a single mother and went to school and in my mind this will be no different. Stress is a part of everyday life - you just have to know how to handle it and not let it handle you. Research shows that high academic demands and difficult family situations might increase strain, strong support can mitigate the effects of stress (Home, 1997).




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