How to Succeed in Graduate School as an International Student

Written by: Abhishek Verma, MS in MIS ’23 

Higher education is a significant investment of time, resources and money in the United States. A master’s degree can help you advance in your career and stand out from the competition. It takes careful planning, dedication and hard effort, regardless of nationality, to succeed as a Master of Business Administration or Master of Science student. Here are seven ways to help you as a graduate. 

  1. Research your program and school.  It’s best to research your program and school thoroughly to see if you are really a good fit. Check the school’s rankings, class sizes, instructors, courses and resources. Attend information meetings, talk with current students and graduates, and explore the school’s website and social media for program specifics. 

Talking to professors about their research and interests can help you understand the program and institution.  LinkedIn lets you connect with academics, students, and alumni and new graduates who can share their knowledge.  

The university may also hold webinars and online information sessions. The program directors or admissions staff lead these workshops discussing the program, admissions and financial aid. 

  1. Plan your finances. Because US graduate programs can be expensive, you must plan ahead. Get grants, loans and other education support. Consider the cost of college food, transportation and other essentials. Budget for books, food, lodging, and amusement. Track your expenditures with Mint or Personal Capital to improve your financial management. A part-time job or an internship might help cover costs and provide work experience. 
  1. Develop strong time management skills. Manage time. American graduate school requires time management. Schedule your academic, extracurricular and personal obligations. Focus on important chores first. 

Pomodoro can boost productivity. 25 minutes of vigorous exertion followed by 5 minutes of rest. This method may help you avoid burnout. Trello and Asana assist manage many projects. 

Use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize urgent and vital tasks. This method lets you minimize or delegate less important jobs to focus on the most critical ones. RescueTime and Toggl can help you assess efficiency and detect issues. 

  1. Build relationships. Faculty, students and alumni contacts can help you excel academically and professionally. Meetup, collaborate and seek mentorship. Meeting new people can lead to education, employment and professional development. Networking events and genuine curiosity are fantastic ways to meet new people. Contact them after the event. Find professors who care about your academic and professional success. 

Join student organizations with similar interests and professional ambitions. Case competitions and hackathons are another wonderful way to meet new people, work in teams and enhance problem-solving. 

  1. Develop strong communication skills.  Graduate school and beyond require efficient communication. Write, speak, and convey clearly. Practice and get instructor and class feedback. 

Public speaking improves communication. Join Toastmasters or a public speaking class. Change your writing based on faculty member or writing center input. 

Active listening and empathy are useful in school and employment. Actively listening, asking questions and summarizing the speaker’s points ensures comprehension. Emails, reports, and compelling presentations improve textual communication. 

  1. Stay motivated and persistent: Getting an MS or MBA in the US is difficult, so stay motivated. Work toward achievable goals. Health should be your main priority to alleviate stress. Divide major jobs into little portions to stay motivated. Recognize and reward yourself after every success. Breaks and self-care prevent burnout. 

Make sure your goals are achievable and broken down. Visualization can help you imagine attaining your goals while tracking your progress, and celebrating your successes can inspire you. Mindfulness and meditation reduce anxiety and improve focus. 

  1. Be proactive in your job search: Never wait for a job. International students in STEM-designated programs may find work in the US after graduating. Attend job fairs, networking events and interviews to find a job. Your school’s career services can improve your CV, cover letter and interview skills. 

Connecting with people in your field can help you find a job. They may be able to help you find work. Practice interviewing and customize your CV and cover letter for each job. 

  1. Embrace diversity: Faculty, students and alumni contacts can help you excel academically and professionally. Meetup, collaborate, and seek mentorship. Meeting new people can lead to education, employment, and professional development. 

Value diverse viewpoints. Your MBA or MS program may reflect US diversity. Hear others’ stories to expand your horizons. Join activities that celebrate originality and welcome newcomers. Joining clubs or attending multicultural activities might help you further appreciate differences and broaden your worldview.  

Successful MBA and MS students are structured, self-controlled and dedicated. Know what you want to study and where you want to go to school, make a budget, learn to manage your time, network, embrace diversity, improve your communication skills, stay motivated and persistent, and own your job search. Follow these suggestions and you will be better prepared to succeed in graduate school and achieve your career and educational goals. 

Abhishek Verma, MS MIS ’23

Abhishek Verma recently graduated from the University at Buffalo School of Management with a Master of Science degree in Management Information Systems.  

One Reply to “How to Succeed in Graduate School as an International Student”

  1. i say your content its awesome, its very helpful for my college project thank you man, i love your content

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