Preparing For a New Academic Year as a Graduate Student | Lex Academic Blog


Even for the most seasoned graduate student, the arrival of a new academic year invites a rethink and refresh of one’s most ingrained study and writing habits. There is something uniquely invigorating about new timetables, events calendars, research journals, or academic diaries: it’s hard not to feel an uplifting sense of possibility when the campuses reopen, even if, in practice, you’ve spent the summer working on your thesis or an article and attending conferences. You may have developed your own rituals and routines for a fresh start. As a community of veteran academics, we have our own thoughts that we’d like to share with you about making the most of the new academic year.

Be inspired by a clean slate

Whether you are a meticulous keeper of journals, or rely on apps to keep you organised and focused, this is the perfect time to refine your daily routine, or to create one from scratch. Around this time, institutions offer study skills classes, drop-in sessions, and refresher courses from academic and support staff that are open to everyone. Even if you know most of the information already, you might come across a new idea, or a new hack that saves you hours of effort, streamlines a process you don’t enjoy, or helps you to figure out how to do something that’s important to your research trajectory.

Get situated

Take time to explore your learning environments, whether physical or virtual. The start of term can be hectic but taking time to get to grips with new or updated software used by your institution or finding the perfect route to cycle to campus can pay off hugely in the long run. Give yourself plenty of time to acclimatise to your environment, or to build on what you’ve come to learn about it. If you’re brand new to your institution, where can you go for a quiet coffee after a morning tutorial to decompress before you switch to research? If you take an earlier bus and sacrifice more of a lie-in one day, will it give you an extra half an hour of study or writing before a meeting with your supervisor(s)?

Think big

Remember that you’re laying the groundwork for a successful and productive year, and that this is the optimal time to ask yourself what you want to achieve. Write down your goals, however outlandish they might seem to you at the time. A year may seem to go by fast, but so much can be achieved in that time. Do you want to organise a conference, or to co-write a paper with a respected peer? Make a note of your objectives for the year in the front of your academic diary, set reminders on your calendar app, or pin them to a wall in front of your desk. Often the achievements that initially seem the most modest have the biggest impact. Reflect on how realistic your plans are to finish papers or chapters. How have your initial deadlines shifted? Adjusting your schedule at the start of the new academic year with the support of your supervisor or department in order to better accommodate your life and responsibilities can completely transform your practice.

Invest in yourself

At Lex Academic, we’re here to support you with a wide range of services; including proofreading, copy-editing, and providing feedback on journal article drafts, as well as job and funding applications. If you have a challenging thesis chapter or journal article that you want to finish before the year is out, we can help. Get in touch with us and we will share our experience and expertise to put you on the best possible path for the new academic year.