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12 Things Only a Graduate Student Would Understand

12 Things Only a Graduate Student Would Understand

At some point in your life, you will come across people who, despite landing a job after college, are using their hard-earned money to study again. You might smirk at the idea of these graduate students (whether they are in med school, law school, MA or PhD) “wasting” their resource, time and effort on having a college life after college is already over, but the truth is that many people try to better themselves in this way. Here are 12 things that only a graduate student would understand.

1. We’re still friends, but I can’t come with you tonight for a drink.

You know what I’m talking about—those friends who incessantly invite you for a drink on Friday or Saturday night. While it’s tempting to enjoy a hearty dinner and booze with our dear friends, we can’t help but consider that studying for our recitation the next day is better than saying “yes” for the meantime (and meantime means a lot of time). This is no longer a stage where we can just go out and feel at ease the next morning, since usually, we have something to recite in front of the class.

2. When I say I am broke, it means that I. Am. Really. Broke.

Most graduate students are actually struggling in life with balancing full-time time work and studies. While some rich kid grad students have the luxury of both money and time to lean on, we working graduate students are paying rent, bills, books and for our own sumptuous dinner after finals. So if you try to invite us for a movie and we say we’re broke, just buy what we’re saying. We really are broke.

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3. The office is a warehouse of our research papers.

C’mon! Come clean now. At some point in our life, we asked our manager to print something for us, whether it is a research paper, a proposal or a PDF of our lesson for the semester—whatever it may be, we are very thankful to our quite-understanding managers who help us print it for free. Anyway, we work hard while we’re at work, don’t we?

4. We take bedtime as seriously as study time.

We are not just party-deprived—we are also sleep-deprived. We feel sleepy while studying, so we try to sleep, but then we just obsess over everything we’re nervous about, so we can’t sleep! It’s a vicious cycle. As a grad student, it really takes a lot of courage to embrace sleep as we did when we were children. ‘Nuff said—I am going to sleep. Bye!

5. There’s no such thing as a weekend.

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I have known weekends as a 2-day phenomenon where you can do just anything and enjoy yourself. But entering grad school made me erase “weekend” from my vocabulary. What’s the point of having this so-called weekend when all we can do is finish our paper work? So what does our usual work week look like? Mondays through Mondays.

6. Expect the unexpected with your mediocre classmates—they usually do great later!

In grad school, your peers will all be wearing costumes. It’s quite hard to pinpoint who’s who, and it’s especially difficult to pinpoint the winners. Don’t judge your peers too early—they might remove their masks and emerge as winners.

7. Our backpack is our home and our smart phone is our office.

The world is totally fast-paced right now. If you combined that with a full-time job and being in grad school, you will surely find yourself praying that days are longer than 24 hours so that you can sleep for eight. But the Earth’s axis cannot grant our request, so we are more likely live the life of a turtle, having everything packed in our bags and in our smart phone. I didn’t even know I have a cake in my bag for almost a week.

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8. Is there food in that seminar?

Are we suppose to be ashamed of this? Well, I think not. With seminars and classes piling up one after the other, grad students would probably ask there if there is food in that seminar. I mean we are going to allot our precious time on a quite long seminar so please give us a consolation of food that we can munch on once we’re bored. Make it two helpings, please.

9. Health is wealth. But I’d rather sleep.

Talk about health? I would really love to but you know…I am kinda….but seriously….zzzzzzzzzzzz

10. Graduating with flying colors doesn’t guarantee success.

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We are no longer undergrad students where a Latin Honor will hype us in the so-called “real world.” But what comes after is nothing more than the real world with a twist. Once you’re in grad school, having a special color robe during graduation is practically meaningless. It’s just another attempt to prove one’s worth; the secret to success is to be humble.

11. We are not on track with other 20-somethings.

While many of my mates on Facebook (and why am I even online when I’m supposed to be studying) are posting their photos of being married, having their second baby, or opening their online store, here we are still grappling with our books when we were supposed to be done with this like 2 years ago. But this is the road we’ve taken, so let it be.

12. We are not just students; we are GRADUATE students.

graduate

    We don’t earn our crazy eye bags just for nothing. So please understand that we won’t let you get away with saying we are just students. We are undergrad students and we are now embarking on being graduate students. Again, we are not just students. We. Are. Graduate. Students. Although it can be difficult, we certainly love what we are doing. After all, partaking in graduate school is already written in our plans and decisions as adults. Oops! I have to go work on my assignment now.

    Featured photo credit: back of graduates during commencement. via shutterstock.com

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    Published on January 7, 2021

    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

    Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

    If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

    Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

    You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

    When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

    Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

    In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

    Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

    3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

    Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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    1. Respect deadlines
    2. Understand the work-flow plan
    3. Build in time to mess up

    1. Respect Deadlines

    Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

    One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

    2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

    Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

    3. Build in Time to Mess Up

    You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

    Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

    For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

    Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

    This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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    Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

    Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

    Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

    When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

    12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

    Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

    1. Learn to Listen Well

    You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

    Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

    2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

    Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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    3. Follow Rules

    Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

    4. Take Notes

    Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

    5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

    When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

    As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

    6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

    If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

    7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

    English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

    8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

    Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

    9. Minimize Distractions

    It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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    If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

    10. Take Breaks

    It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

    11. Make Time for Reflection

    At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

    12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

    This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

    Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

    Final Thoughts

    Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

    When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

    More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

    Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

    Reference

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