If I could do grad school over again, I would:
1) Decide sooner that I wanted to do a dual degree program. It’s taken forever finishing one then starting another and now I’m broke and ready to start a job so that I can get PAID for my time… you know, instead of me paying the university to work me to death.
2) Make better financial decisions. First of all, this means living in grad housing only ONE year, not two! I loved my little apartment in La Aldea, but honestly, it boils down to laziness on my part not trying to find a cheaper place to live after that first year. Second, this means being more careful with my money – buying less clothes, not eating at expensive (and by “expensive” I mean anything more than $6) restaurants, and not caving in to so-called friends who insist on eating at expensive restaurants and have no consideration for your financial situation like texting you constantly when you told her you do not have unlimited texting or making you go snowboarding after you told her you can’t afford the lift or rental costs, etc.
3) Not being active enough. I have a gym that I love and close group of friends that train with me there, but because of school, I’m too sporadic with my training. I have spurts when I go all the time, but then school kicks in and I’m not in the gym again for months. Then things slow down or I catch up and I can start training again, but that’s temporary and I stop again. I think it may come down to bad time management. Which brings me to my fourth point,
4) Better time management. I don’t really think this needs much elaboration. I think anybody that does anything more than sit on the couch all day in front of the TV can understand and relate to this problem.
5) Learning multimedia earlier and more thoroughly. It’s such a pain in the ass to lug around a camera, mic, and tripod, but it sure does add life to your stories. And while Final Cut was an even bigger pain, every time I use it, I learn about a new feature. My latest discovery is the master template. In the menu, choose Sequence > Add Master Template. So cool if you want to add an extra flare to your projects.
6) Learn photography and videography. Learning the software to put your pieces together is important, but if all you have are a bunch of blurry pictures and even worse video, there’s no real project to put together.
7) No regrets. I wish I had done a lot of things differently, but eventually I got around to most of the things I wanted to do and tried my best to correct the things that I messed up. And I’m sure one day I’ll have a job where I can put everything I’ve learned to use and build even more upon that.
Some of the BEST decisions I’ve made:
1) Looking at departments other than my own to take classes in. Some of my favorite classes have resulted from this – Grant Writing, History of India-Pakistan, and Media Coverage of International Crisis (that last one was what made me decide to do the dual degree program with Near Eastern Studies and Journalism).
2) Being social. I went dancing with my friends. We had dinners at each others apartments. We took trips to Mexico, California, and Las Vegas together. Most of the time, we’d just hang out and talk. And now I have lifelong, wonderful friends. Grad school is crazy stressful. I would’ve never survived if I didn’t occasionally play hooky with my buddies, or spent a day doing nothing with the people I feel so close to now.
3) Being active. Not only does this keep you healthy, but it kept my stress levels down and I found a whole new circle of friends that have my back no matter what. Not a lot of people train jiujitsu and just the sheer nature of what we do, you form intimate relationships with your teammates real quick. More than a few very close friends of mine are from this group of fighters and being part of this close-knit community means that even when you visit another gym in another city, you have an instant set of new friends.
When I was an undergrad, I lived at home. I didn’t make that many friends. I don’t remember going to any parties. I certainly didn’t workout much. When I started the grad program, I corrected some of these mistakes but made others. For my next degree (maybe something in the sciences???), I plan on correcting those mistakes. One day, probably after my fifth degree, I’ll get it right…