Advice from Alumni

"The Graduate School asks every graduate student to complete an exit survey when they finish. At the end of that survey, we ask the question, 'What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just beginning their graduate studies at Michigan Tech?' Below we share some of the responses that we have received over the past two years. We have separated these into specific topics."Dr. Will Cantrell, Dean, Graduate School

Academic life

  • It will be challenging at times, but you just need to pull through those times as it is well worth it.
  • Graduate school will be tough so you need to find the right support to help you go through it.
  • Work hard and smart, enjoy your stay at MTU and get ready for snow!!!
  • I would tell them to be eager to learn from veteran Michigan Tech professors!
  • Use your google calendar!! It's my favorite.
  • Choose a topic for your research early and use each class to build on that research, creating components of your Thesis or Report along the way. Write a draft of your report or thesis two semesters before you plan to graduate!
  • Don't take a position for the sake of a degree -- actually like the work you do.
  • "Talk and meet with your program advisor often".
  • If you are an accelerated master's student do everything you can to avoid 12 credit semesters.
  • Find ways to improve your education outside of class. You can’t learn everything that way and you need to make yourself appealing for jobs.


  • Try to reach out to your cohort and build a relationship with them so it is easier to explore the degree and its expectations in a team setting. You learn more and have a more enriching experience at Tech.
  • If you can, it's also sometimes helpful to sublease somewhere just to meet people and take more time in finding a place to live
  • Interact more with researchers and get involved in research activities.
  • Find balance in life outside of work
  • Don't be afraid to get involved in something different. Even if it isn't the most interesting to you, it's a great way to network, meet folks in your department, and maybe you'll even learn that you really enjoy it!
  • For someone just beginning graduate studies at Michigan Tech: Go above and beyond when it comes to networking with people on campus. Whether that be faculty or other students. Having a strong relationship with those around you makes the entire experience less stressful and much more enjoyable.

Outdoor Activities

  • Participate in GSG activities, explore the different research on campus, and enjoy the Keweenaw while you're here! Stay for the summer!
  • If able, try to get outside. Try to get into hiking, birding, skiing, walking.
  • Enjoy every moment of the journey at Michigan Tech, it is a great school with a lot of opportunities. Also, don't forget to go out and enjoy this amazing place (the beautiful UP)   
  • Get outside. It's rare you get to live in a place like the Keweenaw.


  • Do some form of a winter activity to keep you sane because the combination of graduate school stress and persistent winter can really wear on your mental and emotional state.
  • Be ready for a lot of snow.
  • If you come from areas without snow, please take skiing lessons in your first semester.
  • Be strong to withstand the extreme temperature but summers are great to compensate for the winter. Keep working hard! Library and coffee are a great combination!
  • Be ready for the cold wintertime. You can efficiently study here. Very powerful education and research programs are available. A fantastic student lounge with gorgeous scenery is not always available in many universities, but here we have it.


  • Set a professional goal and then work for it.
  • Fix your career path at the beginning so that you won't be diverted/confused about where you want to go.
  • Think about how your studies will apply to the job market and focus on strengthening skills that are commonly desired by the jobs you want to have
  • I would suggest they start approaching faculty of their interested field for projects and research opportunities. Hands-on experience is most important in the job market right now, and all avenues of obtaining that have to be utilized at Michigan Tech.

General - Positives

  • Don't lose focus, even though MTU may seem to be too isolated and sometimes far from friends and family, it is a great school with a welcoming community.
  • Just keep faith in Tech's history and education system and do your best! We have a legacy out there in industries!
  • You have made the correct decision, and you are going to start a wonderful journey.
  • Be tenacious.
  • It's going to be ok.
  • Grad school is rigorous. Rest when you can.
  • The advice will be that, grad school is hard! You come half way across the world (if you are an international student) and have to deal with things you never thought of. Everything will seem hard, difficult, depressing at start, but just hold on, enjoy the journey and keep that hope, that fighting spirit alive!!
  • Put forward your best effort every single day and you will be rewarded.  There may be days, weeks, months where you make no progress. But you cannot climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pocket, so do not give up trying."
  • get ready for a roller coaster ride


  • Explore all of your options - the department and the grad school is great about helping you develop your own pathway.
  • The university gives many opportunities and provides many resources to help develop our self, so I would suggest to work as hard as one can and make the most of it.
  • Explore and use the resources available to you including other students.

Online students - Distance Learning

  • I am an online masters student working full time. I would advise similar working professionals who enter the program to be prepared to work hard, but it is all worth it.
  • Visit the campus if DL student
  • The (online) classes go fast. Don't fall behind on the work.


  • However much time undergrad took per class, double it.
  • Don't trust other's judgment blindly, even if they are ""above"" you."