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Advice / Career Paths / Training & Development

5 (Fun!) Ways to Get Ready for Grad School During the Summer

How is it possible that the summer is already halfway over? I feel like it’s only been a couple days since my last exam, but somehow I’ll be heading back to school in just over a month.

Given that it’s not too long before we’re all going to dust off our notebooks and go to class, it seems like a good time to start prepping for the fall. If you feel as out of the loop as I do, then I’d recommend taking these steps to ease yourself back into the game—I know I will!

1. Build a Good New Habit

This summer is the perfect time to build up a good habit that you want to last during the school year. Most of us have a lot more time right now than we will in the fall, so you can set aside at least 15 minutes every day to do something that’s important to improving your daily routine.

For example, I’m going to try to get back into the habit of reading the news. Last year was such a mad scramble that I didn’t feel like I had any time, but as someone who used to get the newspaper every morning, not knowing anything about current events was strange for me. Plus, I think it would help fight against the “grad school bubble” syndrome that so many of us experience, make me a better class participant, and push me to have great conversations with my international classmates. So, I’m going to spend time the rest of this summer integrating the habit again—reading articles during breakfast (I like RealClearPolitics and the New York Times) and re-subscribing to The Economist so that I can always have the magazine in my purse—so that it can seamlessly become part of my life in the fall!

2. Bulk Up Your Summer Reading List

With school, unfortunately, comes homework. Before we start getting assignments again, take the opportunity to catch up on the (virtual or real) stack of books that you’ve been meaning to get through. I’d definitely recommend reading at least one business- or management-focused book, just to get your head back in the game. Recently, I’ve really liked Switch and Difficult Conversations, or try one of these recommendations for books for consultants that can honestly help anyone studying business.

Of course, you should also spice up your reading list with some things that are a little more fun for the beach—right now I’m reading the novel Americanah—and take the opportunity to read things that you almost certainly won’t have time for when the school year starts.

3. Touch Base With 5 Friends

The tricky thing about making friends at grad school is that you get really close just in time to scatter all over the world for your summer internships. If you’re anything like me, you know that it’s hard to keep in touch—it takes me a long time to write a thoughtful email, so I don’t end up sending anything because I can never carve out 30 minutes to type. And matching up schedules for a phone call? You’ve got to be kidding.

This way of thinking, however, is what leads to no one reaching out during the whole summer! Instead of long emails, I’ve decided to touch base with five b-school friends in a much less time-intensive way, so that I actually make sure to do it. I’m going to focus on sending quick texts or Gchats to say hi and then hopefully set up a phone date so we can set aside a particular time to talk. I know that getting something on the calendar is often the best way to get it done, so hopefully this strategy will help me feel more connected to my friends as we get ready to start our second year.

And if you’re just going into your first year of grad school, never fear—there are still a lot of opportunities to connect with people and start making friends before you move to campus. A great place to start is your program’s Facebook group, where you can send a message to a couple of people who’ve posted something that also interests you. You can also look at your class directory and email people who went to the same undergrad university as you to suggest meeting up once you get to school.

4. Get Holiday Travel Planning Out of the Way

This is small but mighty advice: Make your plans (and buy your plane, train, or bus tickets) for Thanksgiving break now (bonus points if you do this for winter break, too). Seriously.

A friend of mine who used to work in the pricing department for a major international airline said it this way: “Thanksgiving tickets are never, ever, going to get cheaper. Ever. The planes just fill up and the tickets get more expensive.” Not only that, but you are never, ever going to have more time this fall than you do now. So save yourself some money (and stress), try to figure out what you’ll be doing, and make all necessary arrangements now.

5. Get Some Sleep

I know it sounds cliché, but being well-rested is just the best—you’re more productive, and you have a better outlook on life. I know the summer can seem crazy, but I just have to keep reminding myself how busy next year is going to be with classes, recruitment, travel, and getting ready to graduate.

Moral of the story? Take the time to get some sleep this summer so that you can start next fall off on the right foot and knock next year out of the park.

Anything else you want to do to get ready for school? Put your tips in the comments!