For most graduate students, going back to school can be exciting. With the right graduate degree, this decision is a way to open new doors, explore different industries or master a specialty.
How do you set yourself up for success in this new environment? Staff from around the Fox School of Business offer their best pieces of advice for new graduate students.
#1: Know (and use) Temple systems
Rachel Carr, senior associate director of the specialized masters programs, and J. Brian Seidel, assistant director of specialized masters programs, agree that the single most important thing to do after enrolling at Temple is to get familiar with the various Temple systems including email, the TU Portal and Canvas, the university’s learning management system.
The vast majority of students’ questions from pre-registration to program requirements can be answered by the resources put up on the graduate student page on Canvas.
The Canvas site provides resources for orientation, class registration, information for international students and graduation information. Each resource includes PDF documents and links to relevant sites that answer any burning questions students might have. For example, If a student wants to know how to add/drop or withdraw from a particular class, they would navigate to the “Guide to Fox Classes” resource.
“We regularly update our Canvas site to include new resources that are available or to add something that we missed,” says Carr. “Our advice to students is to look at the Canvas site for answers and if they don’t find what they’re looking for, then schedule an appointment with either me or Brian.”
#2: Meet with an advisor, but come prepared
Carr and Seidel have also started encouraging new graduate students to schedule one-to-one appointments with an academic advisor designated to their program. “We find that roughly 45% to 55% of students will attend these one-one orientation sessions,” says Seidel. “And students who do attend these sessions usually better understand their program requirements and are a step ahead.”
Carr says that before attending these sessions, it’s important that students understand their program requirements and choose electives that are closest to the field they’re interested in. “Students know themselves better than we know them. We encourage students to explore the vast majority of electives available to them and understand which elective would align with their career going forward,” says Carr. “If students have any questions about what an elective entails, we would be more than happy to tell them a little more about it or connect them to a program director.”
#3: Build and nurture your network
It is often a good idea to get to know your classmates early on and start making connections. When graduate classes start at the Fox School, academic advisors send emails asking enrolled students if they want to connect with other students.
“The Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) will also tell you this, but it is very important to make meaningful connections with students and professors at graduate school,” says Seidel.
Dilyara Kashaeva, associate director of the CSPD, encourages students to start building relationships early on, whether it be with future employers, alumni, peers or even professors. To build relationships, she advises students to do three things.
Start with online networking – engage with people via OwlNetwork or LinkedIn (sending people personalized notes on LinkedIn is highly recommended by Kashaeva). Next, attend virtual or in-person professional events hosted by the companies that you are interested in by registering on Handshake. The final step would be to schedule one-to-one informational interviews with people of interest to learn more about their specific roles, career paths and companies. Or, better yet, utilize all three methods at the same time.
Kashaeva cautions against asking new connections outright for a job or a referral. Instead, she suggests researching the person and company using tools like D&B Hoovers, FirstResearch and LinkedIn to uncover the connection and demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm in their company and role. Students can find more tips on networking and professional development in the CSPD canvas course.
“Networking is very important in graduate school and many students miss out on opportunities because they overlook its importance,” says Kashaeva. She believes that both experienced students looking to advance in their careers and students new to work benefit from building and nurturing meaningful relationships.
#4: Know where to look for help
More often than not, graduate students are also working part-time or full-time while attending school. Juggling work and school can be challenging. For those students, Carr and Seidel caution against registering for too many classes.
“We recommend that for every hour students spend in class, they spend two hours revising their studies, outside of class,” advises Carr. “Don’t bite off more than what you can chew,” adds Seidel.
Look out for resources to help when feeling overburdened.
The International Students and Scholar Services is a great resource for international graduate students for all things related to immigration, maintaining legal status in the US and issues related to beyond immigration, like applying for a social security card or a driver’s license.
The Tuttleman Counseling Center is another great resource for students looking for help with mental health. The center provides free counseling and psychiatric services to students who need them.
Carr believes that the transition to online learning is a boon and students don’t have to travel to campus to receive assistance with anything. “Due to COVID, we can now have appointments through zoom if it is convenient for the student,” says Carr. “Everything students share with us via zoom is completely confidential, so we encourage students to reach out whenever they feel overburdened,” adds Seidel
#5: Discover your community
Students have numerous opportunities to get involved. Kashaeva says that from professors to academic directors, everyone helps ensure that students always put their best foot forward. “When feeling overwhelmed, it is important to remember to take everything one step at a time,” says Kashaeva.
“Everyone at the Fox School is here to help if a student needs it,” adds Carr.