Graduate Studies Challenges and Strategies for Success

Graduate Study Challenges and Strategies for Success James HCS 504 August 2, 2010 Anne Graduate Study Challenges and Strategies for Success Making the decision to go back to school after many years within the workforce was a difficult decision. Before making that decision, I had to research the challenges that graduate students face during their studies. In my research, I have found that three of the most challenging obstacles that will affect my studies during my desire to achieve a higher education will be financial, effective time management, and stress.

I will describe effective strategies for managing each of these challenges to achieve success, while pursuing my graduate degree in master’s of health administration (MHA). My first challenge would be the financial means and responsibilities needed to obtain my graduate degree. Especially in today’s economy in which adult learners are burdened by the financial responsibilities of day-to-day living such as mortgage, car payments, utilities and food while trying to pay for graduate studies at the same time.

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A good strategy would be to become familiar with all the financial aid resources available. “Financial aid is offered by various offices and government institutions, as well as universities and individuals” (Jones, 2010, p. 1).

Upon my research, I have found that graduate students have four ways they can pay for tuition, which are savings, income, loans, grants, and scholarships. Of the four methods to pay for tuition using “savings” is the hardest. Statistics has shown that the average savings rate is about 0. 5% of peoples annual income.

Due to this most families don’t have the savings to cover the expenses of college (Becker, 2010). When students don’t have the money available in savings they then turn to income.

In doing this the student must evaluate their financial ability to add the costs of tuition into his or her daily expenses. If this option is not realistic they must proceed to looking at grants and scholarships for assistance such as need-based programs like Pell, FSEOG, Federal Work-Study, ACG, SMART, and TEACH. Also there are also merit-based programs such as LEAP and the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Grants.

After the student has concluded that they cannot pay for his or her tuition with any of the last three methods the student can use the last method, which is “loans.

” They could apply for either a subsidized or unsubsidized loan to meet their financial needs. The second challenge that one must overcome is time management. As an adult learner, I decided my best avenue of approach to attain my post graduate degree was to acquire it through an online source. “Students must balance work, family, and school demands where feelings of being rushed and fatigued are common” (Kramer, 2007, p. 58).

The first strategy to overcome the challenge is to select the right school that will meet your needs. As I stated before, I selected an online source to attain my educational goals because it fit my complex work schedule. The second strategy to diminish the challenge of time management is to become organized. Start by becoming familiar with the course syllabus so you know what is expected of you. Take copious notes and create a “to-do list” so you can prioritize your tasks in a manner that would set you up for success.

Crossing off completed tasks as you follow the to-do list would help keep oneself organized and focused.

If you implement these two strategies during your studies you can effectively manage you time between your full-time job, family, friends and all of the requirements of your graduate courses. The last challenge that I will discuss is the stress associated with the burden of trying to complete one’s graduate studies while trying to balance other priorities within your daily life. This is an extreme challenge that I recently have encountered myself as an adult learner.

I have learned that graduate studies require many commitments that one must effectively manage before they spiral out of control. When you do not manage your time correctly, you can find yourself completely stressed with the overwhelming tasks of graduate studies, career, and family obligations.

Effective time management, and stress come hand in hand. If you do not manage your time correctly you will find your stress level increase dramatically. There are many strategies that can help you reduce stress.

Some of these strategies are to become organized; you can do this by using a calendar or planner to keep track of your tasks. Take time for planning and organizing, set goals, prioritize, and become flexible in your schedule.

If you follow these strategies to organize your graduate studies you can set yourself up for success in obtaining your collegiate goals. Although graduate studies often come with many challenges as discussed from the ability to obtain the financial means, the available time needed to complete all tasks and the stress associated with them.

Several strategies have been discussed that can be used to achieve your academic goals, from financial aid to time management techniques. If used effectively these techniques can reduce your stress making graduate studies an enjoyable and rewarding venture.