Tips for Success for Graduate and Transfer Students
By Julia Faherty august 14, 2017
Incoming undergraduates make up a large portion of new Tech students; but as one of the top research universities in the United States, Tech attracts students from well beyond high school.
Transfer and graduate students are an important part of the new student population at Tech. Even with past college experience, these students may be nervous about their first year on campus.
Fortunately, students at Tech are happy to share their wisdom, and listening to their recommendations will make the first year as a transfer or graduate student a breeze. Welcome, new Yellow Jackets!
Fourth-year electrical engineering graduate student Skanda Prasad came to Tech in Fall 2014 from Bangalore, India, where he completed his undergraduate studies. Prasad now serves as president of the Graduate Student Government Association and has a few recommendations for incoming graduate students.
“Grad students don’t have FASET or an extensive orientation, so joining Tech can be an intimidating experience,” he said. “As an international student, I spent my first semester trying to make the transition to grad school while adapting to a new country and culture. Luckily, life at Tech got a lot easier in my second semester when I was able to figure out the system and plan my time better, which gave me more time to explore the city, do new things, and join Grad SGA.”
Tech offers Orientation and GradExpo to help new students transition to life on campus. Fall 2017 Graduate Orientation sessions are approximately one hour and will be held at multiple times Aug. 10–22. Advanced registration is required. The Fall 2017 GradExpo will take place Thursday, Aug. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Clough Commons and will help new graduate students learn about campus services, student organizations, and local businesses in the surrounding community.
If you’re a graduate student looking for more information on how to make a smooth transition to Tech, Prasad has a few bits of advice.
1. Connect with other graduate students.
During his first year at Tech, Prasad found current graduate students to be some of the most helpful resources on campus.
“Through the India Club at Georgia Tech, I was able to connect with other graduate students soon after I received my admit, and they walked me through all aspects of life at Tech — right from course suggestions, housing, and even something as minor as what spices to bring from India.”
“Take breaks, explore the city, meet people, join a campus club, do new things, and stay healthy."
2. Get involved on campus.
Many new graduate students find it difficult to identify and schedule time for extracurricular activities, but students should be aware that there are many campus organizations open and welcoming to them.
“There are a number of ways to find campus organizations to join at Tech,” Prasad said. “Organizations table at various expos at the beginning of the semester, and most of them have events early in the fall, so students should keep an eye out for tables, flyers, emails, and events.”
Graduate students should take advantage of Tech’s OrgSync page for more information on active campus organizations. Alternatively, Prasad has found that word-of-mouth publicity is a great way to discover less formal graduate student groups that are not chartered through Georgia Tech.
“Talking to fellow students and new people is the best way to find graduate organizations that are more ‘low-key’ or specific to a certain school or discipline,” he said. “Plus, you get to meet new people.”
3. Look beyond campus for housing and roommates.
Graduate students are not required to live on campus during their first year, so students can also explore off-campus housing. During Prasad’s first year at Tech, he lived off campus in a six-bedroom house in the Home Park neighborhood. Prasad found that living with five friends made his first year easier.
“Since our house was fairly large, it became a fun gathering place for grad students and that meant we got to know a lot of new people, which eased the pain of moving to a new city,” he said. Prasad suggests house-hunting early since many places are rented by early June.
4. Purchase Dining Points if you plan to eat meals on campus.
Graduate students are usually comfortable cooking meals for themselves, but a busy schedule often means less time in the kitchen. Prasad said he mostly cooked for himself during his first year, but not always.
“Given how hectic the first semester was, cooking all three meals was out of the question,” he said. “For the most part, I’d have lunch on campus and sometimes dinner.”
Prasad found that graduate students didn’t use the dining halls frequently, so a full meal plan was unnecessary, but he found value in Dining Points, which can be used at all Community Restaurants and 19 Georgia Tech Dining Services on-campus locations.
“When using Dining Points, not only do you save on tax, but you also get 10 percent of bonus credits, so it’s effectively a big discount on food.”
5. Don't let the workload overwhelm you.
Graduate school at Tech can be intense, but the benefits of finishing the program are extensive. Prasad recommends that students make time to care for themselves.
“Take breaks, explore the city, meet people, join a campus club, do new things, and stay healthy,” he said. “Often, it’s more productive to put your feet up and take a break so you can get back to work rejuvenated and with higher productivity.”
Prasad has found a vibrant community in Atlanta. “I’ve enjoyed visiting the museums near Tech, watching plays, poetry, stand-up comedy, and live music, hiking and camping, trying new foods, among other things," he said. By spending time in the city, Prasad is able to take his mind off his studies and get a well-deserved break.
6. Make use of your resources.
Prasad found it helpful to form study groups with his peers.
“I’ve often struggled with a concept for days, but understood it after just a few hours by discussing it with friends.” The Institute has many resources to help graduate students through their studies as well. From assisting with communication skills to health-related issues, Tech is ready to support graduate students through their academic careers. Learn more here.