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Academic Success Center

Introduction to Graduate Level Studies

Welcome to Erikson Institute!

As you start your graduate program, it is important to consider what it means to be a graduate student working on a master’s degree. The next 2-3 years of your life are sure to be some of the most exciting, yet difficult and challenging times. In order to be successful here, it is essential that you prioritize school. Not only are you paying a lot of money to be here, but you are investing in your future by attaining additional training and scholarship, and ultimately, gaining a master’s degree that will grant you leverage in the professional world. 

To maximize this opportunity, you must put your schoolwork first—which means spending time each day on your coursework. This schoolwork may be different than what you are used to. You will be reading many articles and course materials, using these readings to inform your writing and engage in discussions, and you will be reflecting on your understanding and practice within the field. You will grow tired, you may become frustrated, you may lose sleep while you’re a graduate student. Remember, it is temporary. And it is only going to be this way for a while. 

On the Academic Success Center website, you will find resources designed to help you refine your study habits while you’re a student at Erikson. Though you may not be studying for exams, you will need to create study strategies and processes to help you become a successful graduate student so that you can be a leading exemplar in the field. We hope the resources provided here will guide you in your academic journey and support you as you work towards your master’s degree at Erikson. 

Syllabus Understanding

The course syllabus is your roadmap to understanding each course you take at Erikson. It is important that you take time to thoroughly read your syllabus before the first class, and that you keep your syllabus accessible so that you can reference it throughout the semester. In addition to including information about how to contact your instructor, the syllabus includes a course description and details the objectives of the course. As you read through your syllabus, make note of how the course progresses; each week builds on the previous week, and concepts are scaffolded to create a logical understanding of course content. Additionally, your syllabus includes the guidelines and expectations for each class assignment.  

See the handout below for tips to help guide you in reading your syllabus. 

Study Habits

What is your study style? How do you determine your study style? How does this affect how you prioritize?

Every student has a different way of reading an article or writing a paper. How you organize and prepare yourself to do these things depends on your personality and what you practice. You may be a procrastinator and leave everything until the weekend before it’s due, or you may be a planner where you break big things into smaller steps before the deadline. Whatever your style is, it will affect how you prioritize things, for better or worse.

A study style is different than a learning style (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, tactile). However, your study style is deeply influenced by your learning style. To better understand your study style, you first need to understand how you learn. Here’s a quiz to help you determine what your learning style is. 

Depending on your learning style, there may be different things you may want to take advantage of that the ASC offers. For example, if you are an auditory learner, then maybe you should join a study group. Check out the page on how the ASC can help you be successful to see the services that the ASC offers.

Note Taking Skills

Infographic on why taking good notes matters

Time Management

As a Graduate Student, it may feel as if you are balancing many different spinning plates at the same time. Attending multiple classes, staying on task with weekly readings and assignments, along with making time for work, family, and friends can be a lot to manage!

The Academic Center is here to help you manage your time, create schedules and study routines, and provide tools to help overcome procrastination. If you feel that you are struggling with managing your time, set up an appointment with the ASC to discuss your concerns and see the additional ways we can help you. 

Time Management Resources

Here are three examples of how to organize your time and to do lists. There are blank versions of each one that you can access on the left. Choose which one makes sense for you but consider your study style. (If you aren't sure on your study style, take the quiz!

#1: Hourly Schedule   Example of what an hourly schedule might look like

  1. Shade in red any times that you are busy that are non-negotiable and you are unable to accomplish anything related to school.  
  1. Shade in yellow times when you can do some school work or hope to be able to do it but may not necessarily always be able to focus (i.e. reading when commuting or during your lunch break). 
  1. Shade in green all the other hours during the week that are free and can be fully focused on doing school work. 
  1. Based on how many hours that you have as green or yellow and how many things you have to accomplish for your classes in a given week, you may need to adjust to allocate more time or less time to doing school work  
  1. List all things that need to be done that week for classes and put them into the green/yellow 

#2: Weekly To Dos for Erikson Categorized by Importance Example of what a to-do list might look like

  1. Have To Do: List all the things that are non-negotiable and have to do for your class that week. 
  1. Should Do: List all the things that you ideally would accomplish if you were to stay on track with all deadlines but that could potentially be pushed off to next week. 
  1. Can Do Later: List things that need to happen eventually but that can happen later 
  • Cross off items on the checklist as you complete them 

#3: Weekly Checklist with Short & Long Term To Dos  Example of a different type of to-do list

  • List all readings for the week for all classes that you’re in, separating by each article or chapter when able.  
  • List all upcoming assignments, when they’re due, different components and when those components need to be done  
  • Cross off items on the checklist as you complete them