Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Advice to Incoming Students (From A Current Student)

There are a lot of tips I could offer to new students – connect with professors, form homework groups, do the networking thing, join campus clubs but also find your own things outside Johns Hopkins SAIS, go to the happy hours…! But the most important piece of advice I’d pass along is the one I, myself, received from a former colleague. 

As I was getting ready to come to SAIS, she told me: don’t just be a passive learner; rather, be an active contributor to your graduate education. What she meant was that in the five years I’d spent working after college, I had acquired a wealth of new knowledge and experience that would not only change my own attitude and approach to learning, but would allow me to share a unique perspective from which my classmates could learn. And, indeed, it goes both ways; unlike in an undergraduate program, graduate students come from a much wider range of ages and backgrounds, professional and personal. That means that – as brilliant as our SAIS professors are! – much of the teaching and learning here comes from interactions with fellow students. Of course, this isn’t to say that those of you coming right from undergrad have any less to offer. You, too, have a comparative advantage, having been recently steeped in the intellectual foundations and academic discussions of the issues we’re studying; the rest of us may not have engaged with these topics in that way in years, and are eager to find out what we’ve missed!

The point, ultimately, is to come to SAIS with confidence and an open mind. Remember that you were admitted not just because the selection committee thought you could get something out of this program, but because they believed you could contribute something meaningful to it. So think about what it is that you can bring to SAIS, as well as what you want to learn from your peers and professors, and come ready to shape your education. I’ll look forward to learning from you next year!

Daphne P.
MA Student Blogger