Just Beginning Your Educational Administration Graduate Program? These Tips Are For You!
You’ve been accepted to an educational administration graduate program - congratulations!
Beginning graduate school can be both exciting and intimidating, but don’t worry - with these tips, you’ll learn useful organization strategies and how to get involved with your program and share your ideas. Because while graduate school is a lot of work, it should also be fun, right?
Here are 10 tips for students just starting out in their educational administration and leadership program. Feel free to add your favourite tips in the comments below ;)
Attend Student Orientation
Your department or university may offer a new student orientation sometime before the beginning of term. This is a great opportunity to meet other new (and current) students, instructors, your advisor (if you’ve been assigned one), and generally get a sense of what it feels like to be there.
Make sure to check your university email inbox to stay on top of event notifications, or check out your department’s website for updates about upcoming events.
Use a Reference Management Tool
Did you know you can build a digital library to keep all your articles organized? Register for a free account with a reference management tool such as Mendeley, Zotero, or Endnote to start today - even if you haven’t collected any references yet. By the time you begin working on your first major research project, you’ll already have a go-to database of references.
Keep a Reading Journal
One of the first assignments I had in grad school was to keep a reading journal, where I would write about the articles that I read, as well as my reflections on them. This is a helpful exercise because it will help you to:
Get acquainted with the literature and current issues in the field.
Help you better retain information you’ve read.
Help you to start voicing your opinions on educational administration topics.
Remember, this reading journal is just for you, so feel free to discuss anything else you want, including any fraudy feelings about being in grad school (because the imposter syndrome is real).
Share Your Perspective
What better time than right now to speak up in class? Even if you’d rather not (for fear of public speaking or fear of sounding stupid), challenge yourself to share your observations about the readings (you DID do the readings, didn’t you?) and introduce yourself to someone new in every class.
Chances are, there are other students with similar interests as you who haven’t even thought about the topic the way you have. So, find your voice - practice if necessary.
Create a Plan for Your Program
More and more, universities are expecting students to take charge of their program and understand it well enough to make decisions about what courses they need to take in order to graduate. That being said, you need to know exactly what courses you need to register in, how many options you can take, and any other requirements for your program. You cannot just rely on an advisor to tell you what to do. It’s up to you to take initiative and be organized for the years you are in graduate school.
Understanding your program usually means looking up a program of study (another term for the overview of a program) generally available on your university’s website. Keep a list of the courses you need to take and check them off as you complete them. Pay attention to prerequisites, which you can find in the academic calendar.
Some programs also require additional work, such as an ethics module, capping project, or thesis - make sure you know every requirement for your program, as it will be unique to your university. And don’t forget to ask for help when you need it!
Write Down Important Deadlines
Review your university’s academic schedule and write down any important deadlines in your calendar, student planner, post-it notes on your fridge…whatever works! These dates are final and it’s up to you to know them. Important dates include:
The add/drop deadline for registering in courses or receiving a refund.
Deadline to apply to transfer to a thesis route (if applicable).
The graduation application deadline, and more.
You can find the academic schedule on your university’s website.
Go to the Library
Actually walk to the library, walk along the stacks, and familiarize yourself with the books on educational administration. Don’t just rely on an online library search. Plus, you’ll be surprised what great books you can find when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Studying and writing in the library is also your secret weapon to beat procrastination!
Related: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Writing an Educational Administration & Leadership Research Paper
Participate in Research Day
Many universities have department or university-wide research days for students. This is a great opportunity to create a research poster or to present a paper that you wrote for a class.
While it can be intimidating to put your research out there, you’ll be proud of yourself for sharing and discussing your ideas with your peers. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to talk about your research and to practice presenting to audience in a low-risk, fun environment. Think of it as preparation for your future as a researcher!
Start a Dialogue
Consider sharing your ideas both inside and outside the university while you’re in grad school. This is a great way to connect to other researchers and to learn to express your thoughts about your program and your research. This could take many different forms such as:
Starting a blog to discuss your research.
Registering for a Twitter account and using #edadmin, #edleadersip, or #AcademicTwitter to join the conversation on social media.
Pitch an article to an academic website or magazine (tip: try starting by writing an article for your university’s newspaper, newsletter, or magazine).
Join a Writing Group
If you’re working on a major research project, or just want to motivate yourself by writing with others in your program, consider joining a department writing group.
If your university does not have a writing group, or you are a part-time or online student who cannot attend the writing groups on campus, then you can also find an online writing group.
Share Your Ideas!
Did any of these tips work for you? Do you have more ideas to share with students beginning an educational administration grad program? Share them in the comments below!