Education is crucial to the development of the human civilization and the progress of an individual in modern society.
This paper discusses how a person can prepare for academic success at the graduate level. It begins by highlighting the characteristics of graduate writing and how they differ from other writings. It then discusses the elements of effective written communication.
The paper also addresses the issue of plagiarism, which can have deleterious effects on graduate studies. It reveals how a student can avoid plagiarism. The paper concludes by highlighting best practices that can be adopted by graduate students to help them effectively manage their time.
Education plays a crucial role in the development of the society and the progress of an individual. Through academic success, a person is able to make a greater contribution to his community and attain social and economic benefits for himself/herself.
The benefits of education increase as one attains even higher levels of education. With this understanding, individuals who are committed to enhancing their careers and making a contribution in their areas of specialty study at a graduate level.
This level of higher education is challenging and one needs to be adequately prepared in order to achieve success. To achieve academic success, one needs to understand the features of graduate writing and how to avoid plagiarism.
The graduate level candidate should also possess time management skills and effective methods for coping with the stresses associated with graduate school.
A key component of graduate school is graduate writing. Every graduate student is expected to write numerous papers before the course is completed. These papers range from simple reports to complex dissertations.
In order to achieve academic success, the student should be aware of the characteristics of graduate level writing and especially how they differ from other forms of writing. A significant characteristic of graduate writing is that it emphasizes on analysis as opposed to reporting.
Castello and Donahue (2012) state that the graduate student is expected to synthesize the information learnt and provide a critical analysis of the issue. This analysis should provide a personal perspective by using the theories learnt in class.
The graduate student is expected to come up with original arguments that are well-supported by theories and facts learnt in class and from reliable sources. This differs considerably from other forms of writing where the student only reports on the topic given.
For example, most undergraduate papers do not require students to come up with original arguments, but rather to show that they understand the subject matter. Another characteristic of graduate writing is that it relies heavily on the works of noted authorities in the field for references.
The works of such authorities contain original research and are published by reputable journals (Castello & Donahue, 2012). Other forms of writing do not emphasis on the use of scholarly sources for references.
Non-graduate students are able to use sources without engaging in a thorough investigation of the academic credentials of the authors.
Considering the importance of written communication in graduate studies, it is important to identify the elements of effective written communication. The first element is proper structuring, which enables the author to express his/her thoughts clearly.
Through good structuring, the writer is able to communicate the purpose of the paper and ensure that the key points are conveyed to the reader. The second element is the style of writing chosen by the student. According to Castello and Donahue (2012), the style chosen should be the best suited for the target audience.
Considering the audience needs will determine how much information the writer provides and whether or not he/she will use specialist terms in the paper. By making such considerations, the final writing will effectively communicate the desired message to the audience.
The final element of effective written communication is content. By definition, content is the material that will be presented through the writing. The paper should not contain grammar or style mistakes and it should be structured in a logical manner.
Castello and Donahue (2012) assert that the writer should edit the paper at least twice before declaring it to be complete.
A major issue that might affect the integrity of graduate writing is plagiarism, which is essentially stealing and passing off another person’s ideas or works as your own. All graduate schools regard this practice as deleterious and stiff penalties are meted out to students who plagiarize their work.
The reason why plagiarism is not tolerated is that it affects the integrity of the graduate program (Hall, 2011). This dishonesty leads to students being awarded honors that they do not deserve.
In addition to this, plagiarism hampers the development of original thought in a field as students simply copy instead of striving to come up with their own ideas.
Finally, the originator of the thoughts is not given due credit for his/her ideas. Avoiding plagiarism is crucial to achieving academic success in graduate school.
A student can avoid plagiarism by using citations when an idea is obtained from an external source. Coffin (2003) notes that citations give due credit to the person who came up with the ideas that the student is incorporating in his/her paper.
In addition to this, citations make it possible for a person reading the work to access the sources either for confirmation purposes or in order to get more information.
For most graduate students, time is a precious commodity that must be used with great care. Labosier (2011) confirms that graduate students have numerous demands for their time resources.
They are expected to complete large amounts of coursework, perform research for faculty and engage in out of school responsibilities such as work and family. Effective time management is needed to ensure that the student accomplishes all the necessary tasks.
A best practice in time management is to come up with a schedule. This schedule should have a list of the critical activities and allocate time for them. By sticking to the schedule, the graduate student will accomplish all the set tasks within the deadline. Another best practice is to prioritize on the tasks at hand.
The student should come up with a priority list that categorizes tasks from critical to non-essential. When suffering from time constraints, the student should give priority to the critical tasks. Another best practice is to ensure that time is set aside for relaxing activities.
Labosier (2011) declares that graduate students should recognize that working constantly might be detrimental to their academic and psychological wellbeing.
They should therefore set time aside for relaxing and enjoying friends and family. This free time helps relieve some of the stresses and rejuvenates the student making him/her more efficient.
All students aspire to achieve academic success in their studies. This paper set out to discuss how one can prepare for academic success at the graduate level. It began by noting the importance of academic writing at the graduate level.
The characteristics of graduate writing were given and an outline of the elements of effective written communication provided. The paper also addressed the issue of plagiarism and steps that can be taken to avoid it.
In conclusion, the paper acknowledged the time pressures that graduate students face. It provided some best practices for managing time and stress associated with being a graduate student.
Castello, M., & Donahue, C. (2012). University Writing: Selves and Texts in Academic Societies. NY: BRILL Publishers.
Coffin, C. (2003). Teaching Academic Writing: a Toolkit for Higher Education. Boston: Routledge.
Hall, S.E. (2011). Is It Happening? How to Avoid the Deleterious Effects of Plagiarism and Cheating in Your Courses. Business Communication Quarterly, 74(2), 179-182.
Labosier, C. (2011). Who Are You Married To? Balancing Graduate School and Marriage. Geographical Bulletin, 52(2), 87-91.