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Peer Advice: How to Balance Graduate School and Family


Welcome to the MBKU family!

I am sure that you are all very excited and nervous about your new life as a graduate student at MBKU. As you are gearing up for the intense studying you will be doing, you may also be concerned about maintaining your relationship with your family and friends. Although we are here to learn and do well at school, we cannot forget about our support group who will be helping us survive the next 2.5 to 4 years! Some of you may even physically live apart from your support group, which can add even more challenges. I left my family in Colorado to study in Southern California, so I have a few suggestions to minimize these challenges.

  1. Do communicate with them often

I know that you take your responsibility as a graduate student seriously and want to dedicate your time to studying but do take some time aside to communicate with your family and friends, even for just a few minutes. It may sound obvious, but I have noticed that it is very easy to get so focused on my study, and I realize that I have not communicated with my family for 3-4 days. And don’t forget to ask them how they are doing too! We are sometime so focused on our study and eager to share our experience and struggles, that we may forget that they want to share their struggles with you too!

  1. Do some activities with them together

A part of the stress of being a busy graduate student is not being able to do many activities together with your loved ones. So even if you do not have a lot of free time, be creative in spending time together with your family and friends. If you are practicing patient assessments, recruit them to be a patient for you. If you are studying pharmacology, ask them to quiz you. This way, they feel included and get an idea of what we are studying. If you are physically living apart from each other, you can still play some games, watch a movie, or even a sport tournament together over a video call. You can even cook the same recipe and enjoy the meal together over a video call! There are so many ways to share your time together and get a sense of closeness.

Screenshot of student virtually watching soccer game with family

  1. Don’t forget to thank them!

Our family and friends will be the number one support group for you while you study. As rigorous as your studying may be, it will also be challenging for them while you are in graduate school. Even though they will do their best to understand how busy we will be, on some days, it can be very hard for them to know exactly how they can help us. Try to be understanding of their struggles too, and don’t forget to thank them for their understanding. If the best help they can provide to us is simply to give us enough space and time so we can focus on our study, thank them for that too. Don’t forget, you are a team, and you will do this together great!