Learning How to Juggle in Graduate School
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Learning How to Juggle in Graduate School

Hello, I am a second-year Optometry student at Salus University and I am going to show you how I juggle multiple workloads, extracurriculars, and hobbies while in graduate school, and hopefully inspire you to take your first step towards juggling too. I apologize if you were expecting an actual juggling how-to.

Starting with One

Jemi's coffee and computerAs a first-year, I focused just on tossing the ball labeled “academics.” Taking the time to understand how to toss this ball and catch it every time was vital. Entering graduate school and handling the difference in workload and pace was already difficult, so really spending the first semester focusing on and understanding what I personally needed to do to maintain my academic goals was very important. I adopted many new and refurbished old study habits that helped me get a good grasp on academics. I consistently relied on my weekly planner and Google Calendar to stay organized in classes and used a mixture of digital and handwritten notes depending on the course and content. I also realized that sitting down and creating Quizlets is very time-consuming, and many times if you just search the topic matter (i.e. Anatomy of the Cornea) in Quizlet, you will most likely find a Quizlet already created by another student. Of course, what worked for me will not work for everyone which is why I believe it is crucial to spend at least one semester focusing and understanding what you need to do to achieve your academic goals. If you do not master tossing and throwing one ball, it becomes very difficult juggling two, three, or more. Not to mention, many times we enter graduate school already juggling personal life, health, hobbies, social life, etc. so really knowing how academics will fit into your juggling act is key!

Now Add One More

Jemi headshotIn my second semester of first year I decided to sign up for a leadership position. I knew that being a student leader would help me with public speaking, time management, communication and learning to be resourceful. So, when the opportunity arose in December, I ran for the Assistant Treasurer position on the Salus University Student Council. This was my second “ball” that I added while already juggling the “academic ball.” Luckily, being in a leadership position is - in my humble opinion - easier to handle than academics because there are many people you can rely on or ask for help when you get lost or fall behind. I was very lucky to be working alongside an amazing team and with Ms. Monae Kelsey’s guidance, which easily allowed me to learn how to juggle two balls simultaneously. So, if you are at this point where you have gained a handle on academics and are struggling with the idea of whether or not to sign up for leadership, I say trust yourself and your abilities and go for it! It can seem intimidating, but you will not be alone in your position and there is help at every corner if you need it.

Now Add Another

Jemi's ipad on her deskI wanted to “add another ball” during the summer, but due to the pandemic many of us were forced to relearn how to juggle ball number one (academics) since we were now learning and testing virtually from the comfort of our home. So, I took the time over the summer to adjust to the new setting and waited until the fall semester of second year to sign up for yet another thing - this time it was a work position as an Ophthalmology Technician. There were many things to consider with this position: the commute, managing it with my academic schedule, and student council responsibilities. But, over time, this also became easy to juggle because I had already learned how to juggle two other things so this one came even easier than the last.

Continue Adding, While Being Realistic

Optometry clinical skills lab exam roomI am now at the point where I have juggled three large and time-consuming activities alongside juggling life, staying social (virtually), exercising, cooking at home, reading, etc. Since I am in my second year spring semester, I am completing my optical clerkship and starting to prepare myself for clinic. Now the question is, should I keep adding more responsibilities to juggle or should I swap certain activities out for other beneficial experiences? It is important to remember that there are certain things you should not swap out for the sake of your health and well-being. Your sleep, healthy eating and exercise are crucial to how well you are able to manage multiple roles in graduate school. If your body is not healthy and you are tired and burnt out all the time, chances are you are not going to juggle multiple things, let alone just one. 

I hope this how-to and personal examples help illustrate how you can do more than just study while you are at Salus University, and maybe inspire you to take on juggling as well. Remember, you just have to start with one thing, and when you are comfortable you should trust yourself and add other things that will support your education and goals. If it becomes overwhelming, you can always go back to just juggling one - but you will not know what you are capable of unless you give it a try. Good luck with the upcoming semesters and stay safe!

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- Jemi is a second-year optometry student at Salus University

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