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Welcome back!!

You can read posts like this and more at the Graduate School's blog throughout the semester.

Welcome to our new graduate students – and welcome back to our returning graduate students! There are almost 6,500 of you on campus this semester. You are enrolled in one (or more) of 250 graduate degree programs. You are an important part of the University of South Carolina. I am excited about the professional development offerings of the Graduate School this fall, which will be sharing next week.

Each Friday during the academic year, starting TODAY for fall 2018, we will post content related to professional development. On “Professional Development Fridays,” we hope that you will check out our posts on Facebook and Instagram, tweets on Twitter, videos on our YouTube channel, Linked In, and our blog posts written by UofSC faculty, staff, and graduate students as well as alumni – like this one! (Shameless plug to take a look at the ones posted previously, which are great!) 

One of the most common discussions I have with graduate students leading into a new semester is about setting goals – having a plan. On one hand, I think it is really important to have a plan and monitor my progress in achieving the said plan. But, I am a planner. For those who prefer less structure, having a plan can feel daunting and restrictive.

Making a plan is just like setting goals and identifying ways to achieve your goals. Making a plan means writing down your plan. Maybe you want to work on time management this fall. Maybe you want to dedicate time to write. Maybe it is your first semester and you need to identify a potential mentor(s). Consider your priorities. Consider your schedule – available time. Consider your stage as a graduate student. Keep your plan manageable. Focus on achieving two to three “things” this semester, not 100.

“It's not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

Getting the most out of THIS semester means being intentional and taking time to plan, monitor, and reflect. You are going to be busy – but be intentional about it.

I have a few resources to suggest. 

  • I encourage you to access a webinar from the spring 2018 semester - “Prepare for Success with Goal Setting and Time Management Skills” by Dr. Fatimah Williams – to get insight on how to prioritize in order to plan effectively, even when juggling many tasks simultaneously. Dr. Williams provides useful, practical tips on identifying priorities and aligning your goals with these priorities. In particular, I like how she emphasizes professional and personal goals because taking care of YOU is important.
  • “Every semester needs a plan” is a popular offering from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. UofSC has an institutional membership to the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, which includes resources for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty, webinars that will help enhance professional development, and more. You are eligible to join with a UofSC email address – and access recorded webinars on planning for the semester. You can check out resources for graduate students on the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity website.
  • What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam is a great – and easy – read about strategies to get the most out of your time. In the book, Ms. Vanderkam emphasizes tracking your time, thinking about an ideal use of your time, considering logistics of how you use your time, building habits, and revisiting your approach. I have left five ***FREE*** copies of this book at the reception desk of the Graduate School in Close-Hipp, suite 552. The first five graduate students to stop by get one of the copies.

Common themes across all three of these resources are having a formal, written plan to guide your efforts; monitoring your time; and reflecting. We all have the same 1,440 minutes each day. How do you plan to use your time this semester?

As always, I welcome your feedback on how we can improve professional development offerings for graduate students. And, I hope to see you this semester at one of our events!

Dr. Heather Brandt is associate dean in the Graduate School and associate professor in the department of health promotion, education, and behavior in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Brandt received a PhD (public health), MSPH, and graduate certificates in gerontology and women’s studies from the University of South Carolina – a four-time alumna. However, she also is always a Hawkeye too, born and raised in Iowa and a graduate of the University of Iowa.

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