Strategies for Work → School Transitions

Well, I am officially in week 3 of my Ph.D. and am now ready to talk transitions.

I have been out of school for 5 years and typically, if entering into a Ph.D., most others are often out of school for longer.

But even after 5 years, transitioning from work to school has been a challenge. So, I wanted to share my top 4 strategies that have been helping me in my transition from work → school.

Transitions are hard. I was expecting that these first few weeks would be a challenge:

  • Navigating a new campus and City
  • Meeting new people
  • Writing assignments again
  • Living on a low-income budget
  • Time management

But then there were a lot of other challenges that I kind of forgot about or didn’t quite anticipate:

  • The fear of the unknown
  • Competitive nature of students
  • Challenging your mind is exhausting
  • Not getting to leave your work at the door
  • Building relationships take time

All of these challenges are uncomfortable and for me, bring about fear, anxiety and imposter syndrome (yes, it is a real thing).

If you are feeling these things too, you are not alone!

Here are some tips that have been helping me squash that fear and anxiety but most importantly prove that imposter syndrome wrong!

  1. Ask Questions.

Even though you might feel very alone right now, there are so many other students feeling the exact same way. And they also have the exact same questions as you. So, ask people questions, ask how to get around campus, ask where the HR building is, ask how to get the readings online. This is the only way you will learn and these first few weeks is a good chance to ask these questions. They are not stupid questions and (most) people want to help.

  1. Stop Negative Thoughts.

Stop the negative self-talk or negative thoughts, as soon as they come up. This fear and anxiety can bring about your worst set of thoughts but recognizing them as soon as they appear and rephrasing these thoughts to positive self-talk can really help your mindset. This is almost an hourly practice for me right now but the more you do it, the more automatic it will become.

  1. Exercise.

Yes, it is important to stay physically healthy but exercise is actually so important to stay mentally fit as well. The number one primary function of your brain is movement. Not to mention, endorphins, no one ever regrets making time for a workout – am I right?

Also, if you get more exercise, you will be able to sleep better (see the next tip).

  1. Sleep.

When you rest properly, your brain will be able to function to its potential and will have the mental ability to stop those negative thoughts. So make sure to get a proper sleep and dream BIG!


PRO TIP: Set reminders on your phone, on your calendar or on post-it notes. These tips may seem simple but I set reminders on post-it notes to make sure that I fit them into my daily routine.



Do these things with intention and make the most out of them to improve your transition from work → school.


What other things are people finding a struggle during this time of transition?

I would love to hear what other strategies people use!

Until next time,

 Christine xo

P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.

P.P.S Applying to grad school in 2018? Check out this FREE eBook on 5 steps to a successful grad school application.

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