Tips for Grads: Rest and plan for the spring semester

By Khine Thant Su, PhD Student

Is it just me, or are the last few weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break the longest in the semester? This past year has been especially challenging, as we navigated in-person classes amidst the ongoing pandemic. Many of us are looking forward to the winter break as we wrap up our final projects, exams, and grading. Here are some things to focus on once the semester is over and we head into the winter break.

Prioritize wellness

  • Reset your sleep schedule during the winter break if you have been struggling with sleep during the semester.
  • It is tempting to stay up late watching panda videos over the break. But better sleep is crucial to get you feeling ready to take on a new semester.

Plan for the spring semester

  • Identify your top three priorities for the spring semester.
  • Plan backwards. For example, if you want to apply for a grant next year, plan backwards from the application deadline.
  • Set intermediate deadlines: for example, dates to finish brainstorming ideas for research proposal, writing your first draft, submitting to advisor for review, etc.
  • If you need help prioritizing tasks, consider using the Covey Matrix to sort your tasks in terms of urgency and importance.

Reflect on career development

  • The Graduate School’s DiscoverPD tool is a great place to start for graduate students wanting to explore professional development opportunities.
  • Check out Beyond the Professoriate’s Career Exploration Video Library to learn from other PhDs who transitioned to different career paths.
  • If you are considering academic careers, For Future Faculty has all the resources for your application process.
  • Make sure to stay informed about networking opportunities and career development workshops in the spring by following the UW­–Madison Graduate School on Twitter and Facebook.

Winter break is a great time to recharge and reflect upon the past year so you can plan for an even better year ahead. Try out one or all of these tips to see what works best for you.

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.