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Top 4 Lessons from My First Semester in the Accelerated Master's Program

AMP Survival Guide  


Written by Alexandra Holley, VP Publications  


Since before I started classes at Alabama, I knew that I wanted to participate in the Accelerated Master’s Program, a track that allows students to take graduate and undergraduate classes at the same time, and in my case, finish both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years. The transition from undergrad to grad school is hard as is, but trying to do both simultaneously can be extremely overwhelming and hard to navigate.  


As an academic overachiever and someone who prioritizes being involved on campus, trying to manage two graduate-level classes, upper-level undergrad courses and multiple leadership positions seemed impossible at first. However, after my first semester in the program, I’ve figured out some tips to make it more manageable.  


1. Time Management is Key  

With so many things to juggle, every minute counts. I’ve learned that I work best in the late morning and early afternoon, so I try to take advantage of that time whenever possible. I also find it easier to work when I have a large chunk of time, so I like to block out afternoons to lock myself in a study room and get my heavier assignments done.  


How I schedule and keep track of my commitments has also been a major factor in my success. I make a monthly calendar to keep on my desktop and use the Stickies app to place notes over each day with my extracurricular commitments. On the side, I have a sticky note for my weekly academic and extracurricular to-do lists. This helps me look ahead and stay on track each week so I can use my time productively when I have free time between classes or meetings.




2. Shift Your Mindset  

The expectations and type of work for grad classes are entirely different from undergrad ones. I’ve found undergrad classes to be a lot of learning the fundamentals of public relations and how to execute campaigns. In grad school, a lot more emphasis is placed on research and contributing to scholarly discussions. I’ve found myself having to think a lot deeper and more critically to write my assignments.  


3. Your Network Matters  

Making friends in your grad classes is so important. Not only can they help you through assignments or give you notes if you miss class, but they will be your biggest support system. My friends in AMP have been the only people who can relate to the stress and pressure I’ve felt this semester, and I’ve relied on them a lot.  


4. Motivate Yourself  

The semester is going to get tough, and you will feel defeated at times. It’s important to learn how to get yourself through it. I’ve started giving myself little motivators to give me something to look forward to and stay positive.  


One thing I’ve implemented is rewarding myself with little treats. This could be as simple as walking to a local coffee shop mid-afternoon for a pick-me-up so that I can return to my mindset feeling refreshed. I’ve also started writing myself sticky notes of things I want to accomplish or am looking forward to and placing them on my mirror. Having constant reminders of my goals reminds me that the hard work I’m putting in now is going to be worth it.  



While stressful and overwhelming at times, I am grateful for my decision to do the program. I have gained so much confidence in my work ethic and ability to do hard things. If you’re considering doing the Accelerated Master’s Program, I would definitely recommend meeting with an advisor to make sure it’s the right decision for your career goals and applying if it aligns with your plans for the future. 


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