In less than one week, I'll be embarking on a new adventure in the form of graduate school at the University of Findlay. As an undergrad, I never really considered continuing my education after graduation. There was even a time that earning my bachelor's seemed like a stretch, as I struggled to find an effective treatment for multiple chronic illnesses, choose a major and navigate a transfer from one school to another.
The Master of Arts in Professional Communication (MAPC) program at UF was established in recent years and was designed with working professionals in mind. In other words, it's more spoonie-friendly than many other graduate programs, offering flexibility and the option to take all online courses. The coursework is also designed to incorporate current work projects, instead of doubling your workload. These are some of the reasons I chose to enroll in the MAPC program, which I hope will help me grow and improve my own business, Right Brain Creative Content, as well as the blog!
But I'll be doing things a little different this time around. In my post-grad years, I've realized that I actually enjoy learning. Who would've known that reading -- and even studying -- could be enjoyable? Maybe that's just what happens when you finally discover what you're truly passionate about. So I will be focusing on making the most of my graduate experience by setting priorities from the very beginning. Here are a few things I'll be doing differently:
1. I will make self-care a priority.
I'm not 21 anymore. My body reminds me of this every chance it gets. I know that to be successful at this point in my life, I can't stay out until 3 a.m. and sleep through class in the morning. I'll be making time in my schedule for rest and exercise, and I'll check in with my body regularly to make sure I'm on the right track.
2. I will not take my relationships with professors and fellow students for granted.
One of the biggest benefits of being a student is the unique community environment. This is one of the only places you'll ever find yourself surrounded by people who know more than you and are willing -- and even happy -- to not only share what they know but to help you apply that knowledge to your own work.
3. I will actually read the course material.
I know, I know -- what a revolutionary concept! It's amazing what you can pick up just
from actually ingesting the information you're provided with.
4. I will set deadlines for myself and actually stick to them.
I've learned that deadlines are even more important in the real world than they were in school. When you miss a deadline on a work project, you don't get paid! I've learned to be more intentional with my schedule, and I'll be applying that concept to my graduate coursework.
5. I will take advantage of every student discount I can find!
You don't realize how many perks come along with being a student until you aren't one anymore. Whether it's 10% off my lunch or the opportunity to attend an industry conference for half price, every penny helps me pay my tuition.
6. I won't be afraid to ask for accommodations if and when I need them.
In my previous career, I was often torn about whether or not to request accommodations that would allow me to effectively perform my job. I knew that I needed them, but I also knew that making the request (while totally reasonable) would add fuel to my abusive coworker's fire. Luckily, I have a renewed sense of self-worth since leaving that job, and I've learned that asking for accommodations is nothing to be ashamed of.
What tips/tricks have you discovered for surviving school with chronic illness? Tell me in the comments!