If you’re looking to advance your career, a master’s degree might seem like the next logical step. A master’s degree is one of the gateways to specialization in a field that often leads to higher salaries and/or higher levels of responsibility within a profession. Therefore, you are considering or may be planning to attend a graduate school for your masters degree.
Unsurprisingly, the experiences shared between “graduate schools” are similar in many areas – whether you earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Business Administration (MBA) or another mastery. diploma.
For example, the MSN is valuable to nurses and the healthcare system because it prepares nurses for leadership and advanced clinical practice. The MSN is the foundation for the academic preparation of nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, clinical nurse leaders, nurse educators, and many other nursing positions.
When you work with students in the MSN program, it’s not uncommon to hear them say that graduate school is hard and time-consuming, but it’s also very rewarding.
If you’re transitioning from a bachelor’s degree to graduate school, you likely have questions about the process.
What is the difference between undergraduate and graduate work?
Over a lifetime, we build up a progressive amount of knowledge that we use personally and professionally. In the school environment, this knowledge becomes more and more complicated with each level of study reached.
Simply put, the difference between the work required for a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree relates to the more complex knowledge presented at the master’s level. This greater complexity is mentally and physically challenging and time consuming.
Many students would say that the biggest difference between undergraduate and graduate work is the amount of knowledge that must be incorporated into their work, as well as the demand to base your thoughts, observations and assertions on evidence. scientists. This means you’ll spend more time in the library, researching databases, and gathering evidence to enhance and support the new knowledge you gather to help you become a master in your field.
How can I prepare for my first day of graduate studies?
It is important to note that you will not start alone. Faculty members and student support staff help mentor, mentor, and encourage master’s students as they transition to graduate school.
Here are some ways to set yourself up for success from day one:
- Visit the online library – You will often work with the university library during your graduate studies. Find out where to find resources and how to get what you need. At many universities, librarians are also available 24/7 to guide and support you.
- Meet your advisor – Advisors support students at every stage of their academic journey. They are a reliable source of information and advice.
- Become familiar with the Learning Management System (LMS) – Start exploring the online learning platform used by your university. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), for example, uses a platform called “Brightspace” and all course information is available at the beginning of each course. Online courses are organized in the same way and there is a predictable pattern of deadlines to help you remember when assignments are due. In addition to your discussions and homework, here are some important areas to find:
- Advertisement – Instructors will share important information about your course and assignments. This can be done in the form of advertisements. If you want to excel in your job, be sure to read all course announcements, emails from your faculty, and other messages and instructions regarding the course. This is the easiest first step to understanding what is expected.
- Academic support – Learn how to navigate your academic support center as they can provide a wide variety of resources such as 1:1 support, chats, videos, workshops, written guides and more.
- Computer helpdesk – We all need technical help from time to time. Contacting early can help avoid wasting time trying to resolve a technical issue that a professional can fix quickly.
How can a graduate student be successful?
There are many strategies to succeed in your studies while preparing for your master’s degree. They start by knowing and using your resources, meeting deadlines, and advancing your writing skills.
- Take advantage of the resources. Most universities offer a wide range of resources to support students. Discover the institution’s resources and get the support you need for education, health and wellness, accessibility, English as a second language and more.
- Talk to your course instructors/teachers. They can match you with the resources you need. Instructors are also great resources for questions specific to your specific courses. People who choose to teach at the graduate level do so because they enjoy working with students and are invested in their success. Ask them questions and take advantage of the help they want to provide.
- Take your lessons. Do your best to stick to the schedule with your due dates. Falling too far behind can make it difficult for students to complete a course.
- Establish good writing skills. It’s important to remember that academic writing is much more formal than how we communicate in our daily lives. This can be stressful for some students, but there are plenty of resources available at college writing centers and even libraries to support writing at the master’s level.
How can I manage my higher education while working?
Higher education is a challenge for anyone working while studying, but there are several ways to ensure that the balance between the two is manageable.
Create a support network
How you balance your responsibilities will change during your graduate studies. Having a support system in place can help with these responsibilities. A good support system will not only help you create time to focus on your course work, but will also provide you with the encouragement and moral support that will help you succeed.
Some things your support network can do (if you ask them!):
- Listen to you and encourage you to stay focused on your goals
- Taking care of the children so you can focus on your lessons
- Share meals and meal prep tasks to free up your time
- Offer to clean or do chores around your home
- Cover shifts, if possible, to create free time to focus on classes
- Distract yourself with a fun night out or activity to help clear your mind and recharge when you’re feeling stressed
Many employers are more flexible than you might have imagined before starting your master’s degree. Earning a master’s degree is helpful to many, if not most, employers. Therefore, many students may change their work schedules or request time off once their employer knows they are enrolled in school. Students often say they are surprised at the support they receive from their employers during their higher education. You don’t know until you ask.
Take the time to do your homework
Most graduate programs will require around 15-16 hours of your time per week for a 10-week course. Find the times that work best for you and plan ahead to protect those times. This may mean babysitting or leaving a busy home to work somewhere else. However, plan for the unexpected. If something interrupts your scheduled time and you don’t have spare time available, contact your course instructor about your options.
Ultimately, the decision is yours whether and when you will attend a graduate school to complete your master’s degree. Whatever your decision, it will be important to understand the commitment you have made and to investigate and use the resources available. These resources can exist as departments or as other people.
Connect with the faculty of the program you are looking for, your employer, your colleagues and your peers to share your experiences, discuss your goals, understand and plan the time that higher education requires.
But above all, allow yourself to be excited. This is a major life decision that can have a major impact on you personally and professionally. What are you waiting for?
A degree can change your life. Find the SNHU master who can best help you achieve your goals.
Dr. Kimberly Gibbons, DNP, CNM, RN, CNL, CNE has been a registered nurse, nurse midwife, nurse educator and clinical nurse leader for over 25 years. She taught nursing full-time at the undergraduate and graduate level for over 15 years. Currently, she is a team leader for the graduate nursing faculty as well as a subject matter expert for population health-related course development at Southern New Hampshire University. Additionally, Dr. Gibbons is the coordinator and instructor of the CNL track of the MSN program at SNHU and actively facilitates the CNL synthesis experience with students and preceptors. Dr. Gibbons holds a doctorate in nursing practice from the University of New Hampshire, a master’s degree in nursing midwifery from the University of Minnesota, and several specialty certifications in nursing education as well as clinical practice. in nursing.
Dr. Emily Bombard, DNP, RN, CNL, CNE has been a nurse for over 17 years. She has experience in higher education and clinical nursing practice with professional roles in education, leadership, quality improvement and bedside nursing. Dr. Bombard joined Southern New Hampshire University in 2020 as a graduate clinical nursing faculty member. She is currently the course coordinator and instructor for the first nursing course in the graduate program and facilitates capstone experiences for the nurse educator (NED) track. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a Doctorate in Nursing Practice, and certifications as a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), Certified Nurse Educator (CNE), and Six Sigma Green Belt..