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May 22, 2023 | Blog

Photo of Carrisa KelleyBy: Carrisa Kelley, Master of Science in Counseling Student

A year ago, when preparing for my first semester as a grad student, I was overwhelmed with hope, excitement, anticipation and, of course, some fear. Deciding to apply and commit to a program was a long process, but I knew it was the right choice to begin to pursue my dream. If I could go back in time and give myself advice about my first year as a graduate student, I would say these 3 things:

1. Your life will adjust:

I remember being stressed about balancing my full-time job, family, self-care and now school. I couldn’t imagine how I would fit all of my responsibilities in while still feeling fulfilled. The truth is, your life will adjust. You will learn new routines to make it work and work well. Some days are more heavy, but it’s worth it when you are doing something you love. You will find ways to be creative because staying present in a life you love is the easy part.

2. You are learning:

Walking into your first class with brilliant peers, expert professors and a heavy textbook may begin to add some pressure to know everything. And the worst part is, you don’t know everything. In a new advanced academic setting, it won’t be long before some imposter syndrome kicks in. I remember questioning if I was the only one scared about my first paper; about having a hard time remembering all of my reading from the night before. The truth is, everyone feels that way. You did not invest in a program that you’re already an expert in. It is expected that you don’t know all the answers. Take a deep breath and remember you are there to learn.

3. Be proud of yourself:

I found myself minimizing my accomplishments and the way I was succeeding. The truth is, school is hard. Especially when you are balancing it with so many other things. Give yourself a moment to celebrate the little victories. Every homework assignment and lecture was a sacrifice of free time you had before, and you did it!

My first year as a grad student has been so rewarding and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. There is nothing more meaningful than actively working toward your dream. I am so happy I overcame my fears and setbacks to be where I am today. I encourage you to take a closer look at what NNU has to offer, and get connected today!