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5 Tips for Grad Students with Freedom Dreams

Uncategorized Sep 04, 2023

From Our IG Live Conversation with Ashley Y Lipscomb

Urgency and perfectionism can make graduate school extremely difficult. We want to share some tips and frames that have helped our co-founder, Ashley Y Lipscomb, with input from other grad students and learning specialists. The world right now is not as loving as we dream it to be. We don’t have to do grad school (or anything) the way it has been designed to be.  These are important reminders for “how to do life.”

  • Get that calendar right. (Yes, time is a colonial construct. AND, we need to manipulate it for our learning and liberation.)
  • Put all commitments in your planner/calendar, not just schoolwork (example: practices, appointments). By annotating both, you create a clear picture of all of your various time commitments. This will help facilitate how you prioritize your time.
    • Block out time: being time oriented allows you to organize your time including yourself 
      1. Be clear: Be specific in language with tasks that you write down. For example, avoid blocking off time to “study.” Using the word “study” does not actually commit you to doing anything specifically. As a result, when students prioritize tasks, “studying” gets pushed off. Instead, replace “study” with language that is more complete. For example, “ quiz myself with summary flashcards.”
    • Break up time: you have less time than you think you do. Make sure you account for the time it takes to think and work. 
      1. Break down larger assignments and test prep. This is called “Spaced Practice.” This is helps you retain information more effectively. This also helps you to avoid procrastination by breaking tasks into manageable chunks. 
  • Syllabus break down: Put due dates into your calendar and work backwards.
      1. Add homework into your planner on the day you plan on doing the assignment, not the day the assignment is due. Simply writing the day things are due is just capturing what the Schoology calendar already tells you. This does not build the plan of how you will complete work. 
    • Include fun and life activities in your calendar.
      1. It is easy to bite off more than you can chew. Remember to build in time for breaks and natural parts of life. Did you make time in an evening to have dinner?
  • Grad school is the wild card!
      1. Consider meal prep to eliminate decision fatigue. 
      2. Use  tools like better lesson or lesson upload system to improve a lesson and tweak it so you don’t have to start from scratch 
  • Outsource what you can afford: laundry, meal prep, cleaning, dog walker.
  • Communicate with your professors & support services 
      • What does your low look like? How can you communicate that? 
      • Do you know what accommodations are available to you and how to advocate for them? 
  • Know your priorities: What fills you up? 
  • What “burners” are you focusing on?  The 4 burner theory says you have four life burners: family, friends, health, and job/school.  Are those the same burners for you? You may have four other burners. A balanced life can have the “heat up” on 2 or 3 burners, but not really on all 4. If not, you may very well burn out.  Choose your burners carefully.
      • Do you enjoy quality time with your people? 
      • Are you someone who needs more space? 
      • Rest is resistance.
  • Get an accountability group: We are meant to learn and study in community.
      • Who are the people you can hop on a zoom and co-work with? 
      • When are your regular meetings? What do you do during your time together?
      • Be honest with yourself and them over what kind of accountability you need. 
  • Set some boundaries and communicate them 
  • You do not have to accept every opportunity to speak or connect, especially if it is unpaid labor. 
    • When/how do you respond to emails, texts, calls? 
    • Do you check social media at certain times or not at all? 

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