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10 Grad School Insights

Graduate school can be an incredibly difficult journey for people. The fact that the program is very short creates a rather intense atmosphere for a lot of the students. With all of this in mind, here are 10 Grad School Insights to help you think about as classes begin this week.

1. Your Mental Health is Important.

For those of us who already struggle on the daily with mental health this might not be anything new. However, graduate school is one of those places that can be incredibly difficult due to competition and imposter syndrome. I’m sure you all have heard well over a hundred times that you belong here but sometimes hearing it doesn’t make it feel real. Reach out to other people who are open about their struggle with mental health. Don’t forget your tips and tricks you’ve used before now.

Relax your jaw. Relax your shoulders. Take a deep breath. Drink some water. You’re doing amazing!

2. Skills vs Academics

This is a professional program with far more of an emphasis on experience than academics. Creating an environment where you can gain new resume lines can be intimidating but make sure that you are spending some time seeking out opportunities for yourself.

3. Descriptions suck

Ask questions. The course descriptions aren’t the greatest at times and you might end up in a class that sounded perfect but has a new professor. ALISS’s Facebook page is a great place to reach out and ask if anyone has taken a course that you are interested in. They might have insight into the professor and the course that a description would never be able to give you! Utilize them!

4. That Group Work

There is an insane amount of group work. That DOES NOT mean that these classes will be easier. In fact, added group work can actually be very difficult to do. Schedules and lives outside of school make it difficult to coordinate meetups. Make sure you aren’t over scheduling yourself and remember that other people have lives too! If something happens, talk to your group about it! Don’t leave them in the dark.

5. Connections and Community

If you moved to Seattle specifically for the program it can feel really hard trying to create a new life during grad school. Make sure that you aren’t just focused on making random connections but also with creating a deeper community and safety net for yourself. Friendship is important, even for a bunch of introverted librarian folks. Don’t let yourself get sucked into classes, they aren’t the most important thing in your life.

6. Networking

While super important for your future, don’t pressure yourself if you don’t think you have the right connections quite yet. This isn’t a race and there will be plenty of time and opportunities to take part in networking events. BUT don’t be afraid to ask for someone’s contact information or card after a panel event or if your professor brought them into your class to speak! And don’t forget that the wider MLIS program including alum of the iSchool are more than likely to help out if they can.

7. Food

Grad school is expensive and so is Seattle. Make sure that you are eating and if for some reason you run into an issue there are plenty of resources out there! There is a Husky Food Pantry on campus that only requires your student ID to participate. If you have questions about anything like that feel free to reach out to anyone on the academic advising team, even the peer advisors, or me! I’ve used the campus food pantry when I was struggling. There is no shame in asking for help


School is NOT your entire life. Maybe you uprooted your life to move here for it so it feels like it, but I promise you that it’s not. Don’t spend all of your time with your classmates becoming an echo chamber of misery. School is stressful that’s for sure but you can talk to your classmates about more than what is happening with their homework. Ask about them, see if you have anything else in common. You are more than these two years that will be summarized in a resume line.

9. Self-Care

Its important. Schedule if you have to, honestly. There is no shame in scheduled and unscheduled self-care. You gotta take care of yourself or else you aren’t going to be healthy enough to get all you want to out of this experience.


Lastly, get some sleep. Always choose sleep, y’all. You won’t regret it when you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on that homework you couldn’t keep your eyes open to finish. Take naps if you have to! Do what you gotta do, no one will blame you for setting those boundaries! And if they do, they might not be taking care of themselves.

Hope you enjoyed that look into the mind of a 2nd-year MLIS student and a 2nd Masters-in-general, human. I’m always open to talk about my experiences with any of the topics listed and many more. Feel free to reach out to me directly at kate25@uw.edu

You’re gonna be great!

Kate Miller

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