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It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Back to School Time! Good luck to everyone going back to school or starting a new school this year. I wish you the best. If you are an undergraduate or graduate student this post is for you.

My Back to School Tips:

1. Take a look at your resources/centers: Find your diversity, career, writing, social activities and student health centers. Even if you are a graduate student take advantage of these resources. When I was in my first year of graduate school I went to the writing center and they were surprised to see me because many graduate students didn’t take advantage of this free resource. Also, I checked out the social activities center and discovered the (small) Graduate Students Association (GSA) at my university.

2. Get involved in a fun activity: After a few weeks of exams and papers it’s good to unwind with a social activity. Even if it’s once a month take time out for yourself to have some fun. You deserve it. All work and no play is not good! Life is about balance. Dr. Amy Freeman, one of my mentors/professors from undergraduate wrote a book about work-life balance.

3. Get involved in an academic activity: Many universities have academic organizations such as: NSBE, SHPE, AWIS, SWE, GSA, etc. I highly suggest getting involved in these organizations because it is good to have a community of people who understand what you are going through. Graduate school can be a lonely place, but when you get involved you will have a group that gets you!

4. Start Building your Network: It’s never too early to build your network. Even though it’s only September this is a good time to network because once mid semester hits people will be busy. Schedule informational interviews and attend mixers to get to know the faculty and other students at your university.

5. Find a research opportunity or assist a professor: If you are want to get your feet wet in your STEM career now is your chance to look for a research opportunity or assist a professor. If you show initiative, passion and drive people will want to help you find an opportunity during the semester. Whether it’s for a couple of hours a week you never know what this experience can do for your STEM career. When I was an undergrad I participated in the Minority Undergraduate Research Experience (MURE) at my university and I was able to work in a laboratory as well as earn academic credit.

Bonus: For the graduate students reading my blog I recommend The Thesis Whisperer blog and the book, Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D. by Robert Peters, Ph.D. as a resource for your graduate school journey.

Here’s to a great school year!

What is your top back to school tip? Share below.