Best use of time before starting a Doctoral program?
March 1, 2013 1:41 PM   Subscribe

So I got accepted to my doctoral program (vet med - yay!). Before it begins in August, how can I best use my time between now and then? Looking mainly for non-obvious stuff (work, save money, sleep, etc). Any other general tips for surviving the program would be gladly accepted.
posted by Ufez Jones to Education (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would do as much recreational reading as possible. If you can afford to travel, do that too.

Anything that will fill your reserve tank with nice memories or things you can flash on that give you pleasure.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:02 PM on March 1, 2013

Heck yes - travel, if you can afford it.

At least for me, the summer before grad school was a magic time where I knew that I had a "job" to come back to, and no need to work on resume-building.
posted by Metasyntactic at 2:42 PM on March 1, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, yes, thanks. I should mention that I've got a week long trip to Florida to visit my sister and get some beach time already booked. Hoping for a road trip sometime this Summer too. The recreational reading thing is a great idea. I'll get on that as soon as I finish out this final semester of undergrad work.
posted by Ufez Jones at 3:15 PM on March 1, 2013

Write down just how happy you are that you've been accepted to this program, so when you're exhausted you can go back and remind yourself how much you wanted this, and how incredibly awesome it was to find out that you got it!

Since you've got time, clean stuff out now, while you have the time and mental and emotional space to do it. It can help make you feel like you're starting fresh as you start this next stage in your life. And it makes room for all those new books and notebooks and other school stuff.

If you don't already have one, start (or look for) some kind of hobby that does not involve reading or computers and lets you have short-term accomplishments. Think baking or knitting. Origami. Drawing. Because you'll get enough of long-term brain-frying work at school.

Practice cooking, if you don't do much of that now, or try new recipes now so you can find ones you love to both make and eat.

Figure out what you can do that might make the logistics of your life easier, like buy a portable dishwasher if you hate doing dishes, or drop off your laundry at the wash-dry-fold place, or buy enough containers so you can put together enough carrot sticks for your lunch every day all at once.
posted by orange (sherbet) rabbit at 5:17 PM on March 1, 2013

Agreeing with travel if you can.

If you are moving to a new city don't wait until the week you start your program to do it. Find where you are going to live and get settled a little before hand.

If you have (or would like to have) a new habit you are working on (getting more exercise, eating healthier, etc.) get that going now. Don't wait until you've started your grad program when you'll just want to keep doing what is comfortable.
posted by Medw at 6:30 PM on March 1, 2013

If they'll let you come a little early to hang out in the lab -- and maybe even pay you -- it gives you a bit more familiarity with your future colleagues at a quieter part of the year. Plus, you get to know the campus.
posted by wenat at 6:36 PM on March 1, 2013

I'm in my first year of graduate study, and this is what I did last spring and summer: played a ton of board/computer/tabletop games, read for fun a ton, got in an exercise routine so I'd have a commitment to physical movement before starting grad school (said commitment been... iffy... since moving, but the idea was good), hung out with friends I was going to be moving away from, and panicked.
posted by naturalog at 11:05 PM on March 2, 2013

When I went back to school about a decade ago, I quit my job in May, moved to another country for the summer and enrolled in an intensive language program in an awesome city where I had always wanted to live.

I didn't need to worry about money (thankfully) and figured it would be a way to treat myself to a rewarding experience sandwiched between six years of hard work and two years of intense study. I had a blast. One of the best decisions I ever made. When will I ever have an opportunity like that again? Perhaps never.

If your particular graduate program has a language proficiency requirement, this could also help put you in better position to satisfy it.
posted by donpedro at 3:25 PM on March 4, 2013

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