Graduate College

Getting started

As a new graduate student (or even if you’ve been in grad school for a while), you’re probably wondering how to juggle the various responsibilities you have and how to succeed and excel in your program. This section offers resources for some of the key aspects of your new role: how to balance school, work and life; time and stress management; refining your library skills; and interacting with mentors, or becoming a mentor yourself.

Advice for Success

Seven steps to success

Professor Richard Baraniuk from the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University describes Seven Steps to Success in Graduate School (and Beyond). While written for students in electrical engineering, his advice is applicable to all students, particularly those in the sciences.

Some modest advice for graduate students

Dr. Stephen C. Stearns at Yale University offers insight on several issues from managing your advisors to getting published. Some Modest Advice for Graduate Students is a must read for those working on a master’s thesis or dissertation.

Succeed in graduate school

The University of Texas has compiled a booklet, Tools for Success in Graduate School and Beyond, that describes six tools to help you be successful in graduate school.

Stress Management

Stress management

ASU Health and Wellness provides information about stress and tips for managing stress.

You can build on your stress management repertoire by attending workshops sponsored by ASUs Commission on the Status of Women:

  • Manage Your Stress and Be Your Best

  • Breathe: Mindfulness and the Mindful Experience

Relieve some stress

Take a break from whatever you are doing and enjoy the latest PhD comic strip, which is sure to bring a smile to your face and help you forget about what you are doing for at least 30 seconds. If you need more than a 30 second respite, check out the archive.

Time Management

8 easy tips for managing your time

College can both be fun and stressful! The key to effectively handling your stress and organizing your workload is time management. Below are some quick and easy tips to follow.

  1. Use your calendar or planner. Schedule fixed blocks of time first, like class and work time. Don’t forget to include time for daily activities like sleeping and eating. Indicate important dates like test dates, project or paper due dates, exam periods, and your final exam schedule. Use your calendar to help you plan ahead so you don’t get behind!

  2. Set time for errands. It is easy to overlook the time we spend buying toothpaste, paying bills, and doing laundry. Plan for these errands so you don’t have to feel rushed during the week.

  3. Set realistic goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by telling yourself you can do a four-hour job in two hours. There are only 168 hours in a week. If you schedule 169 hours, you lose before you begin.

  4. Allow flexibility in your schedule. Recognize that unexpected things will happen and plan for the unexpected. Leave some “holes” in your schedule; build in blocks of unplanned time.

  5. Avoid scheduling marathon study sessions. Three three-hour sessions are usually far more productive than one nine-hour session. When you have to study in long sessions, stop and rest for a few minutes every hour. Give your brain a chance to take a break.

  6. Schedule time for you. Exercise, go to cultural activities, build relationships, and don’t forget to have some fun.

  7. Have a tough task to do? DO IT NOW. Don’t procrastinate. If the task looks overwhelming, break it into smaller, more manageable parts.

  8. Learn to say, “NO!”

Reduce/eliminate obstacles

Finding effective ways to manage routine tasks in one's personal and professional life can present challenges for graduate students juggling work, school, and family commitments.  These simple strategies can be used to consolidate tasks and organize your day for a more efficient use of time. Following time management strategies  can help relieve stress and maximize your productivity.


Learn how to manage yourself to get the most you can out of the 24-hour day/168-hour week. This resource from the University of Buffalo emphasizes self-management as the key to time management. Also included are techniques to help you side-step procrastination and interruptions.

Balancing Work, Life and School

Personal and professional balance

This article from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s TIP Journal contains useful steps to overcome the imbalance and conflict graduate students often experience when trying to fill multiple roles: student, instructor, employee, parent, spouse.

Common issues for women in grad school

This site contains links for women in graduate school which address such issues as: changing your name in graduate school, giving birth in graduate school, attending graduate school with a baby, possible barriers to women in science and engineering, the impact of stress on health, and many more issues unique to women.


How to mentor graduate students - a faculty guide

A guide to help those in the mentoring role provide quality mentoring to their graduate students from the University of Washington’s Graduate School.

How to obtain the mentoring you need - a grad student guide

A guide to help those being mentored get the quality mentoring they need from the University of Washington’s Graduate School.

Mentor and graduate student strategies for success

An overview of mentoring and the roles of both the student and the faculty mentor. Downloaded from the University of Louisville’s School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.

Library Skills

Library information for graduate students

Access ASU Libraries on line.