Yes, you are here! You’re in Graduate School and while it’s still school…that is... going to classes and doing assignments: there is a little more that is expected of you in Graduate School than that of undergrad. Making the most of your time and creating purposeful approaches to complete tasks are part of strategies that you start to hone to ensure your survival in Grad School.
This brings me to THE MOST critical part of pursuing your graduate degree. There s no way you can avoid this task. It’s so prevalent, that regardless of the courses you’re are doing it is always required. This necessary task is READING!
This post is dedicated to Major Keys for Grad School Reading.
- CTRL F is your Friend
I recently learned this from a Professor of mine that ever so often requires use to read two and three chapters in preparation for a class or a Chapter or two to answer a few assignment questions. Use CTRL F, which is the FIND feature, to search keys words and highlight or makes notes on salient points without necessarily having to read the exhaustive chapter/s. Even if this is a temporary measure, it may save you some time. Its most useful in when reading E-books in Acrobat Reader™.
- Bookmark It!
If you’re not used to using the bookmark feature on your browser now would be the time to get acquainted. Bookmarking articles and websites that you may even accidentally happen upon may have some added benefit later. I make a habit of bookmarking anything that I find interesting be it recipes, workout videos and articles related to my interests like climate change adaptation, urban planning, sustainable development and disaster management. The bookmark feature is often located near the URL Bar on each browse often time denoted by a Star or what looks like a Bookmarker.
- Using Reference Management Tools
You may be thinking that we’ve jumped the gun somehow and ended up in the land of reference management. It’s an entirely expected destination because we’re in most cases reading to support papers, essays, and other research endeavors. Also, because plagiarism is a breach of the Aggie Code; the importance of preserving references for easy citation becomes a top-notch need. Every piece of academic writing in grad school requires citations, you might as well get a handy application to help you get this done. Some of the most popular ones are Zotero™, EndNote™ and Mendeley™. They basically automatically or semi automatically save the sources for you and create bibliographies. Thank me later.
- Skimming and Reading with Purpose
I would’ve never thought I would be advocating for skimming or scanning through certain assigned and/or optional reading material. I was one of those people who believed you had to read something in its entirety to comprehensively understand what that article or document was about. Imagine trying to read every piece of material for each class, for each assignment from each course over the course of two to five years? You would spend most of your grad school life JUST READING Therefore reading with purpose is highly important. A few tips:
- Focus primarily on the topic/s your covering
- Put away distractions while reading like your phone
- Take a break from the highlighter. Instead of the coloring the entire article make salient points in a notebook or use the ‘Comments’ feature if you’re reading an E book
- Have a road plan of the areas you’re expecting to cover after this reading session. What are the questions that you need answered?
These are four short but important lessons for Grad School reading and I hope it makes your time reading much more fruitful!
Judanne is a masters student in the Department of Landscape and Urban Planning