How to Overcome The Biggest Hurdles of Grad School

Graduate school is basically a harder, more intensive, and more career-focused version of college. It presents new challenges that you probably had not encountered in undergrad, as well as some familiar ones that you might have thought you’ve escaped from. In short, grad school can be a very challenging undertaking, one that you have to be very prepared for.

And what’s a better way to prepare than to figure out the potential challenges that you might face? By knowing what’s in store for you down the road, you can prepare yourself to face them head-on, or even avoid them altogether, if possible.

That said, here are some of the biggest challenges in grad school and how to overcome them:

Time management

This is the biggest challenge for most postgraduate students. Since you are already doing a million things at once: raising a family, earning an income, managing a household; adding school on top of it will make your busy schedule even busier. This is why time management is key; a skill that all postgraduate students should have if they want to graduate on time.

Before you even sign up for a postgraduate degree, think about how much time you can dedicate to your studies given your current responsibilities. If you are working full-time and have a family to raise, consider choosing distance learning for your doctorate or master’s degree. Taking classes online will allow you to study when it’s most convenient for you, helping you give equal focus on each aspect of your life without compromising any of them.

But whether you take your course online or in-person, here are some of the best ways to improve your time management skills while in post-grad:

  • Set goals and prioritize
  • Create a realistic schedule and stick to it
  • Don’t sign up for more classes than you can handle
  • Kick your procrastination habits to the curb
  • Set a time limit for each task
  • Remove non-essential tasks or activities from your schedule
  • Use technology to make time management easier

Writing papers

Everyone knows that taking on a graduate degree involves a lot of thesis writing. And if you crawled through your papers in college, you will probably find the paperwork in grad school a challenge. Nevertheless, there are a lot of ways you can overcome the seemingly insurmountable task of writing a stunning thesis or dissertation:

  • Work on your writing skills; sign up for a class if you have to
  • Ask for help from your adviser
  • Start thinking about your topic early on
  • Stop procrastinating; break the work down into chunks and work through them slowly but surely
  • Engage your professors in discussions; read their work to gain more insight

woman in library


Procrastination often stems from a lack of motivation, which is something that a lot of students experience in grad school. There are many factors that can lead to a lack of motivation, be it personal stress, pressure, being overwhelmed, or simply exhaustion. Often, it’s a combination of two or more factors that can make a grad student see their studies as an impassable mountain.

The key to overcoming procrastination is to pinpoint why you’re procrastinating in the first place. Are you feeling overwhelmed by your studies and everything else in your life? It’s probably time to take a break. Is the point of finishing your studies not as clear as before? Revisit your goals and remind yourself why you are in school. Is personal stress getting the best of you? Perhaps you need to adopt healthier coping mechanisms to manage it.

Procrastination does not mean you’re lazy. It just means that you need a little push in the right direction.

Financial problems

The cost of higher education is high, and money can be a huge hurdle to your studies. That said, find a grad school that is transparent about its costs and is, most importantly, affordable. If you need financial assistance, start finding sources of support early on. Apply for scholarships, grants, fellowships, and assistantship positions at the grad school of your choosing.

You can also look into federal student loans or consider a low-interest graduate school loan from a private lender. However, the best option is to use money that you don’t have to pay back so that you can graduate with a clean financial slate.

Graduate school is tough, even tougher than your undergrad. That is why knowing and preparing for the possible hurdles you might encounter is crucial before you sign up for a program. If there are challenges that think you might have trouble overcoming, it’s best to start preparing them as early as now.

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