1. Thinking you can treat grad school like college. Grad school isn’t college, and even that depends o what your college experience was like. Grad school isn’t difficult so much as it is a whole lot of work that you have to get done.
2. Thinking you don’t have to try that hard because you’re intelligent. Okay, so here’s the thing about grad school, even if you are traditionally intelligent, people pick up pretty quickly if you’re just bullshitting when you don’t know what’s being talked about during class discussions.
3. Thinking the class is not worth your time because there are a few individuals who make you question the entire program with their idiotic comments and questions.
4. Not giving your professor(s) enough credit because you think they are basic.
5. Alternatively giving your professors too much credit and not having the gall to challenge what they teach and/or say.
6. Not taking breaks. Sometimes my friends would force me to leave my apartment and come out and you know what? It was the best thing they could have done for me because that’s one way to lose your marbles in grad school – not take breaks.
7. Not giving honest feedback or not giving any feedback at all when it came to reviewing the class. This is one way to make sure that your professors know how you really feel about the class.
8. Thinking you’re some type of special snowflake because you got into grad school and that you’re going to be right about everything.
9. Leaving everything till the last minute. My first grad school quarter I made the rookie mistake of thinking I could play that game. You know what happened? I did not get any actual sleep for 72 hours and my body almost collapsed from drinking Mountain Dew (given my usually non-soda drinking system).
10. Not participating for fear of looking stupid or ignorant in front of the class.
11. Not participating for fear of looking too smart in front of the class.
12. Not asking enough questions. At this point, there are just not very many stupid questions you can ask. Your professors have probably heard ’em all. Go for it.
13. Not extending yourself enough because you don’t feel as challenged as you thought you would. Go to conferences. Research, write and (hopefully) publish academic papers. Apply for assistanceships. Grad school is what you make it.
14. Taking everything personally. Crying, whining, complaining in a way that shows you’re taking things too personally is a sure-fire way of losing the respect of both your colleagues and your professors.
15. Not having an open mind to new and different perspectives. If there is one thing you should definitely do, it’s being willing to listen to perspectives on things and appreciate them based on argument alone. (Yes, even if your arguments are more polished.)
16. Not doing enough of the readings and showing up to class. Ask any grad student ever and they’d tell you it’s impossible to get everything done and still be a functioning human. But relying on your intelligence and what you get from class discussion will fail you, especially come 30-page paper time.
17. Not caring at the end. The hardest part of grad school are those final months where you wake up every day in tears and endure hourly panic attacks and you just want to quit. But you simply have to take it one day at a time and focus on whatever it is you need to do. Yes, other parts of your life will suffer but you can attend to them later, you’ve got work to do.
18. Not start of their theses on time. I am telling you this because I made this awful mistake and I am paying/paid for it. Start it as soon as possible, or you’ll be working on it way past the time frame you intended.
19. Drinking before class. Drinking during class breaks. Drinking after class. Just generally drinking too much because no other recreational hobby curbs the pain.
20. Thinking grad school will be the answer to a quarter-life crisis or your employment status. Grad school is first and foremost for learning, and doing so ideally a level that requires higher-level thinking. It’s not the answer to a life crisis.
21. Leaving grad school without changing a single opinion about yourself, those around you, and the world at large.