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You've been accepted! - Explore final preparations for grad school

Sreyoshi Battacharya


Receiving an admission offer letter from your school of choice is a dream come true, but what follows in preparation to start class is a reality check, and some thoughtful preparation will ease your transition back into academics.

Step 1: Inform: If you haven’t already done so, informing employers is crucial, as that facilitates discussions about your career trajectory and potential prospects within the company post-graduation. Being proactive helps align your academic aspirations with your professional goals. Also, given the considerable time and dedication that graduate studies demand, setting clear expectations with your family and friends regarding your schedule and commitments helps mitigate potential issues and ensures a supportive environment throughout your academic journey.

Step 2: Order your finances: Financial planning is essential for a smooth transition.

  • Securing financial aid is crucial for many graduate students. Applying for federal aid and exploring university-specific assistance programs can alleviate financial stress.
  • Applying for part-time job opportunities, on-campus and off-campus jobs per the university’s approval, can aid in managing educational expenses.
  • Creating a monthly budget to accommodate potential lifestyle changes or additional expenses associated with pursuing a full-time program ensures finances are accounted for and there are no sudden surprises to sour your academic journey.

Step 3: Sync up: Interact with your academic cohort begins before classes start. In-residence programs include vital orientations, some shortly after you’re notified of your admission. Additionally look for WhatsApp groups, Facebook communities and other avenues to connect with future classmates. Physically going for the pre-program meet-and-greets fosters connections and helps nurture valuable relationships that support your academic and professional growth.

Many online courses encourage students to post a discussion about themselves to get to know fellow students. This is an excellent networking tool.

Step 4: Read up: Graduate education often involves exhaustive critical reading, sometimes even before classes commence. Consistently reading diverse materials trains the brain for the academic rigor ahead and enhances your ability to grasp lectures and participate meaningfully in class discussions.

Reading for class:

  • Professors assign more reading material than they expect students to fully read word-for-word.
  • Texts in American academic contexts typically follow a consistent structure, with main ideas in the introduction and conclusion.
  • Scholars read strategically, scanning for main concepts and subsequently seeking supporting details in the middle sections of texts.
  • Understanding scholarly conversations involves creating a tracking system (list, database, chart) to note reading sources and frequently cited authors/texts. Tracking sources helps in identifying preferred journals, publishers and foundational texts in one's field of study.
  • Reading common publications and authors adds to the value of academic texts; exploring why these are frequently cited is equally important. In fact, identifying gaps in commonly referenced literature can highlight areas for further exploration or research.
  • Understanding the literature in the field, staying updated with new research and being well-versed in both recent and foundational studies related to one's area of focus gives you an edge. Detailed notetaking and writing annotated bibliography entries for texts relevant to one's research, rather than general notetaking, can prove more beneficial for future reference and citation purposes.
  • Early and consistent utilization of a citation manager is advisable for efficient organization of resources, tracking and easy retrieval of sources.


Step 5: Spruce up: Update your resume and LinkedIn profile at the beginning and as you go. LinkedIn profiles are your first impressions so putting your best foot forward is essential. An updated LinkedIn profile conveys that you are prepared for networking events, job fairs and potential job applications, allowing you to present your skills and qualifications effectively.

Create a personal brand statement. Start by strategically identifying your strengths, values, passions, goals, what makes you unique and what you want to be known for in your personal and professional life. Create a narrative that is authentically you and conveys your journey so far. To enhance your brand, determine who your audience is and what they are looking for, then craft your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Know what sets you apart from others in your field, and highlight your unique skills, expertise and what you can offer. Be open to feedback from your audience or peers. Constructive criticism refines your brand so be open to adaptation as necessary to better meet the needs of your audience.

Knowing what you want from your time at grad school will help maximize the resources available to you. Researching prospective companies that align with your career goals also enables informed decisions when networking or seeking job opportunities later during career fairs. Utilizing resources like career advisors or attending school career fairs enhances your understanding of career prospects and facilitates networking opportunities.

Step 6: Gear up: Explore your learning environment before classes begin. If your program is in-residence or has on-campus classes, familiarize yourself with the campus environment to ease into the new experience. Understanding the housing options, transportation options and purchasing parking passes if necessary, and acquainting yourself with campus facilities and resources not only help break into the unfamiliar environment but also allow you to make the most of your time on campus.

For students in an online program, explore the learning management system and take any orientation courses to help them navigate the online space. Gathering necessary supplies is a preparatory step. Acquiring essential items such as a reliable laptop, backpack, stationery, and organizational tools ensures you're equipped for academic success. A second monitor for reading online textbooks may also facilitate your learning. Student and seasonal discounts can also be a way to go about preparing for university. Psychologically, developing a personal development plan and a conscious choice to be resilient are key tools to thrive in academic rigor.

Step 7: Know yourself: Enroll in courses that you are interested in adding value to your career aspirations and that you will enjoy. Orientation and handbooks will help you mark important enrollment dates on your calendar, plan accordingly for graduation requirements and explore available course options. Be proactive in your planning, anticipate your habits, especially procrastination habits, and create calendars and organizational tools to ensure you meet deadlines and secure the classes necessary for your academic goals.

Step 8: Engage: For residential students, embrace the vibrant campus life and make the most of your time at university. A master’s program is not only a time for academic growth but for holistic development. With numerous opportunities to engage, having the curiosity to try something new, to know and learn more expands your neural and social networks. Be present. Participate in events outside class, attend social engagements of communities other than the ones you closely align with.

For online students, take advantage of your professors’ open office hours and group sessions. Also read the comments and feedback on your discussion board and assignments. Don’t forget to check your email and engage with your teams.

Your master’s program is the incubation center for preparing yourself for the next steps in your career. Before you head out into today's global, cosmopolitan business world, be aware of how boundaries are dissolving, and distances are shrinking. When you develop a growth mindset, push your intellectual horizons, and broaden your entrepreneurial mindset, you’ll integrate more smoothly in the fast-changing business world. Engaging with others will offer you a window into how others are navigating life, and who knows, you may find your best friends in the crowd. Giving back will help you increase your happiness.

While feeling nervous is a natural reaction to any change, it shouldn’t overshadow the joy, pride and excitement you feel when starting your master’s program. A multifaceted approach encompassing mindfulness, reflection, and practical preparation equips you to navigate the pop-up challenges and capitalize on the opportunities that arise throughout your graduate studies and your career.


If you would like to receive more information about pursuing a business master’s at the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, please fill out the form and a program specialist will be in touch!

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