Dear current or future grad students,
I myself am a recent alum of New York University. I completed my last semester this December and after two years, I can honestly say I have gathered a few nuggets of wisdom. If you are contemplating grad school or have already begun your studies I have a few pieces of advice for you. Shall we get started? Get out your pens and papers (or iPads...):
Goodbye social life. Weekends will no longer be yours for the taking. Your friends will wonder if you're still alive. Once I landed an internship 3 days a week... I really wasn't good at managing my time. I ate every meal on the go the first month and a half. Didn't talk to friends for weeks. My apartment was the dirtiest it's been in a LONG time (I'm my own cleaning lady). You may have to sacrifice your young 20-something late nights to do more reading than you ever imagined you could do but it's all to expand your mind. It was impossible to get everything I needed done and be in bed in time to get the 8 hours of sleep I so badly need in order to function the next day for 14+ hours. Do take the occasional breather to just enjoy life and give yourself a break. Something I wish I did more of.
Build your network. You can build contacts more when you're in school either through your fellow classmates or professors. Even reach beyond your grasp. If you say you're a student and want to pick their brain, most people won't turn you away. You won't get that luxury once you're out of school. I wish I had been more brave and reached out to bigger names in the industry. Also, once you're finished, keep in touch! Connect with people on social media (i.e. LinkedIn) and do friendly check-ins every few months (although you should already know this).
Find a mentor. This is important at any stage of your career but perhaps you can find one in grad school. I did. They can help you figure out which courses are best for your career, make introductions and get you invited to events/conferences. Mentors are a wonderful thing to have so start trying to find one ASAP.
And most importantly... Grad school is what you make of it. Like any educational institution, the more time and effort you put in the more rewarding it shall be. Unlike college, most grad schools do not have the same social atmosphere. There is no campus, frat row, sporting events, etc. Most of the students are working full-time jobs and have invested the money to further their career. I say take advantage of every networking opportunity you can, meet with professors outside of the classroom, and have clear goals set for yourself. College is the experimental time to figure out your life. By grad school you should have a clear sense of where you want to go in your career.
I hope you will take these words of advice to heart and it will help you with your decision or educational experience (if you're already begun school). Grad school is like college but for grown-ups. Some people in my program were older and wanting to learn new media, others were making changes in their careers and some were straight of college avoiding the terrible job market. You can learn from this unique group so keep your ears open and be a sponge.
~ A fellow grad student.