I have been in the graduate program at Texas A&M for two semesters now. In this time, I’ve adjusted to a new lifestyle—one that revolves around research and results instead of classes and tests. The most impactful lesson I’ve learned is that any task will take twice as long as you think it will. Errors pop up, testing apparatuses break, and the data acquisition system can fail which can impede progress.
If there is one piece of advice I would want to pass on to a new student entering a graduate program it would be to GET STARTED EARLY
. No matter the task or the assignment. It could be running tests, analyzing data, or writing a paper. If you make the time to do a task, then you can have the time to do it right.
In undergrad, you can study all night and take a test the next day. You would probably memorize the information and make an A. Likely, there was one possible answer for each question and you made good guesses. However, research is completely different. In research, there are always mounds of literature papers to read and lots of information to distill from them. Data has to be processed and the results have to be reasonable. For any problem or hypothesis, there can be multiple answers but developing the most complete answer to the best of your ability cannot happen in one night. The test you’re working towards is your defense, and there are quite a few steps that lead up to it. To put it simply, research requires time management.
Graduate school is more like a marathon than a sprint. It requires long term endurance to get through, but if you keep a steady pace, you can reach the finish line.
To all of my potential and current graduate peers: You can do it. I’m rooting for you.
Kelsey Fieseler | Mechanical Engineering
is a first-year Master’s student in Mechanical Engineering from Sugar Land, Texas.