My roommates and I at our first Clemson football game. (I'm on the left!)
My roommates and I at our first Clemson football game. (I’m on the left!)

A few weeks ago, Mel Baxter, reached out to me about blogging and my thoughts on the best hosts for a blog (she’s starting a blog soon- I can’t wait to read it!). In Higher Education we should be the professionals who support one another as much as we support our students. I decided to see if Mel would want the opportunity to try out blogging on my page..and she did!

Here Mel talks about her first year as a graduate student and what she’s learned. Thanks  Mel!

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My first year of grad school was definitely an interesting one. I made the tough decision to not apply to my undergraduate institution, though UGA will always have a special place in my heart, with the hope that I could learn and grow even more at a school that was unfamiliar to me. Thanks to the help of some great mentors at UGA, I decided to attend Clemson University. Though Clemson and UGA are less than 90 minutes apart, my experiences at both schools have been entirely different…and for that, I am grateful. I learned about myself, the profession and even had the chance to compile a list of things I wish I would have known going into grad school.

 What I Learned About Myself

My biggest regret is not balancing my work and personal life. I typically did nothing but schoolwork and my assistantship from

Meeting Luke Bryan with a group of my students before his concert last fall.
Meeting Luke Bryan with a group of my students before his concert last fall.

Monday morning until Friday afternoon. Then I would have my weekends free to travel, explore and not think about work. In reality this might sound like an ideal situation, but it wore away at me because nothing was balanced. I regret not taking the time to get dinner with my classmates after class or going to more baseball games with my students during the week. I also regret working so hard all week, every week so that I wouldn’t have to work at all on the weekends. Some of the best times in college are studying at a coffee shop on a Friday evening or cramming for a group presentation on a Sunday afternoon. I very much so lacked balance this year because I was too focused at times and wanted to keep my routine. What did I learn about myself? Work life balance is key to a happy and healthy life.

 What I Learned About Student Affairs

The Clemson Dance Marathon executive board and one of our miracle families after a very successful event.
The Clemson Dance Marathon executive board and one of our miracle families after a very successful event.

The biggest lesson I learned about being a student affairs grad is that it’s okay to be doing something you don’t love. I know this sounds confusing, and normally I’m all about doing things I’m passionate about. But, I say this because grad school is a time to learn and grow. You’re never going to figure out what you do and don’t want in a job, office environment, university, etc. if you don’t go out on a limb every once in awhile. With that being said, I also learned that even in the process of doing things I might not be passionate about, I should never stop doing the things outside of work and school that I enjoy. I LOVE exploring new places, going on adventures and making bucket lists, however, it took me a full semester of grad school to start checking items off my bucket list. I learned that I should never stop doing the things that

Most of my cohort at our annual holiday party.
Most of my cohort at our annual holiday party.

bring me happiness.

Things I Wish I Would Have Known:

  • Don’t compare grad school to your undergrad experience

  • Get involved with things outside of your assistantship and cohort

  • Take time off when you need to

  • It’s okay to not always have all of the answers…that’s why it’s important to get to know people around campus (both students and staff members)

Mel Baxter will be entering her second year at Clemson University in the Counselor Education/Student Affairs Masters program. You can email Mel at mel.baxter08@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter: @melbax11.

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