Are you a new graduate student? If so, you’re about to embark on one of the greatest journeys of your life. It’s a time of learning and self-discovery. A time to find out where you want to go in life and a time to foster new relationships with those who are on a similar path to you. Knowing what to expect and knowing how to make the most of your experience will ensure success, but what is graduate school really like and what can you expect? The following is some modest advice for new students.

Accept the Financial Burden but Know That It’s Temporary

Paying for grad school can be overwhelming but there are options available to help ease that financial strain. You may have the option of refinancing your existing student loan balance into one new loan. This could mean a lower rate for you and access to more cash when you need it for essential supplies for school. Regardless of your situation, know that student debt is only temporary and you will come out the other side of it with a whole new set of skills to take into the workforce with you.

Surround Yourself with The Right People

There’s nothing worse than having someone in your ear telling you all the things not to do. Don’t make the mistake of surrounding yourself with the wrong people in grad school. At home and school, it’s important to choose your network carefully. Spend time with friends and family members who support you, lift you and make extra time for those who are on your side through the good and bad times. Seek out a supervisor and lab group who values teamwork, diversity, respect and personal growth.

Rejection Is Normal

No one likes rejection but rather than let it consume you, why not face it head-on and use it as motivation to move forward and improve yourself? Whether you’ve spent months working on a manuscript that’s been rejected or you’ve spent endless hours writing a research grant that no one will fund, you will learn from the experience and benefit in some way. Rejection is normal in grad school so never think that you’re the only one being rejected. The smartest people in your class are also dealing with the same problem – it’s just a topic that people rarely speak openly about.

Foster Honest & Open Communication

Being honest and open with your colleagues, mentors and supervisors will go a long way in making your new graduate journey a success. Start from the very first meeting with your peers and be open about your goals and the timeframes in which you plan to achieve them. If time gets away from you and you’re falling behind, be honest with your supervisors and let them know you’re struggling to meet the deadline in place. In situations where you don’t fully understand a specific theory or subject, talk to your classmates and tutors. Don’t be afraid that you’ll be judged as we all fall behind at times.