10 Things I’ve Learned After One Semester of Grad School

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I can’t believe my first semester of grad school has officially ended! On Friday we had one last presentation for a group project we’ve been working on all semester long. It was so nice to see everyone present something they’ve worked so hard on for so long. We sat in the atrium of the STAR building as the snow fell outside. After the pitches, we all gathered at an apartment of some of our classmates and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, sang, danced, and had fun. This was the first time in months that we had nothing to worry about but having a good time. As I think about my first semester, I realized I definitely learned a lot. I know there will be even more lessons to come, but these were the ones that stuck out to me. I’m mostly writing this so I’ll remember these moments when I’ve long completed grad school, but I hope you grad school applicants and future SLPs will enjoy reading this too. Maybe some of you can relate!

1. You don’t have to do it alone.

Since I’m commuting, I just assumed that I would be working by myself, completing assignments by myself, etc. At Temple I was fortunate enough to have a strong friend group within my major that I knew would be down to collab on anything. It took me a little while, but I think I’ve finally found those people I that I know I can go to for help if I need it. It’s such a great feeling!

2. It’s only hard if you make it hard.

So this one might be a little subjective, but I’ve found that by keeping a planner, staying on top of assignments, and making the right use of my time, I was able to avoid feeling completely and totally helpless when it came to schoolwork and clinical work. I worked every day from at least 9am-6pm whether I was in class or not and I really think it helped me not have to stay up all night doing assignments. I know not everyone can work this way but in semester 1 I think I did a good job of managing my time and not stressing myself out too much.

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3. I like commuting.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be cut out for the commuting thing but I actually really love it and like it so much better than I thought I would. Rooming with Ryan has been awesome and I love that we get to spend so much time together and I love having the drives in the morning and afternoon to clear my head and jam out to music. It adds up to some much needed “me time” throughout the week.

4. I’m much better at the client thing than the class thing.

I’m still getting good grades, don’t get me wrong. But I really feel like I shine when I’m working with my client. I’m constantly thinking about him and ways to make our sessions better for him. I love doing therapy! Class on the other hand, can be hard. We’re in class every day for at least 3 hours and it’s just so long for my attention span. I find myself really struggling to pay attention some days. Working on that!

5. Stretchy pants are a must.

I wear these Slim City pants from Gap and I have no clue what I’d do without them. When you have a child client, the stretchy pants will save you! So much more conducive to crawling around on the floor.

6. It sorta feels like high school.

I know that sounds weird but when you’re with the same 22 people every single day for hours and hours, you start to feel like you’ve known them forever. I actually really like it and can’t wait for us to get closer!

7. Taking notes is important.

Not just during class, but during meetings too. When you meet with your supervising clinician, when you meet for a group project, when you attend a lecture, taking notes is so helpful! And that’s why I have a notebook just for those moments.


8. Make time for yourself.

This one feels like a given, but seriously, make time for yourself. Go to the gym. Eat chocolate and watch Netflix. Do a face mask and read a book. Journal. Blog. Watch YouTube videos. Go out on the weekends. Not every second has to be consumed with grad school work. Breaks are necessary.

9. Lean on your support system.

I’m so thankful to have Ryan to come home to every day. He listens to me vent, makes me dinner, and gives me space and silence to work when I need it. He’s the perfect roommate, honestly. Additionally, my parents are always checking in and asking how things are going. Some car rides I just call my mom and talk to her for a while. This is a super challenging time and you will need your support system more than ever!

10. It goes quickly.

Seriously, I remember my first day like it was yesterday. The days seem long but the weeks fly by! I can’t believe I’m already one semester into grad school. I have less than two years left at this point. It’s so crazy!

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I can’t wait to keep learning and growing on this super important journey! Thank you all for sticking around and for cheering me on whether it be in comments or DMs or e-mails. It’s always appreciated and needed. I apologize for my absences but it’s so nice knowing I always have this space to come back to. Cheers to the Fall 2017 semester being behind me and I can’t wait to see what the next ones bring!

  • Claire

    I loved this post! I’m just beginning to look at Grad Schools, and I’m already stressing out about it!

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed your first semester of grad school, Kayla! I’ve loved following your adventures in this new chapter of your life, and I hope you’ll like the rest of your experience as much as this first semester!

  • So proud of you, Kayla! It seems like you are doing an amazing job and love what you are studying (which is so important). UD is a beautiful school, too. I’m taking a gap year before applying to grad school but I know I will be referencing your posts like crazy when the time comes!

    Lauren // http://laurensjourney.com

  • Congrats on being down your first semester of grad school! You’re doing great!
    Xo Mindy

  • Karla Leal

    Congrats on your first semester of grad school! I’m thinking of getting a masters so this is very helpful!

  • Congratulations on completing your first semester of grad school!!! It’s so inspiring to see you help people and do what you love every day. I hope you enjoy your holiday and good luck in the Spring!

  • Congrats on your first semester Kayla! It’s definitely been helpful seeing you share your grad school journey. I graduate from undergrad in May and then start on my master’s in elementary ed!

  • Congrats on getting through your first semester! I’m totally with you on liking more of the field work than class – and exams!

  • Congrats on finishing your first semester! My time also felt similar to high school – it was the same dozen girls each and every day haha, but it was fun too. And staying on top of everything definitely made things easier!

  • I’d have trouble trying to concentrate in three hours of class as well!

  • The Sunday Mode

    I love how you said it’s only hard if you make it hard. I think you can apply that to general life as well and anything new that you’re taking on really!

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

  • My sister just finished her first semester of grad school too – at UGA! I have to share this with her!

  • Bibi Camilo

    Congrats on making it to Grad school! that alone is such a huge accomplishment

  • Ashley Vickney

    yay! Congrats! That’s so exciting! I love the “you don’t have to do it alone”