At PhD level, graduate students are expected to have garnered a lot of experience educationally. Of course, this doesn’t come easy so you’ll experience more independence and work more efficiently with your supervisor to get the work done. There are some vital tips international PhD students should know to enjoy the best of the experience, here they are:

1. Maintain a healthy Work-Life Balance 

Bagging a PhD is no mean feat thus, international PhD students need to develop a good balance between work and life generally. It is not uncommon to find PhD students working intensively to achieve the best but looking after yourself is key to success. Being a PhD student shouldn’t be detrimental to your health, rather maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthily, sleep adequately, exercise, drink a lot of water and visit your doctor at intervals.

2. Discuss expectations with your Supervisor

Make your expectations known to your supervisor early. This will help you to get more attention from your supervisor so that you can work hand in hand and achieve more productivity.

3. Invest time in Literature Reviews

These reviews, both before and after data collection, help you to develop your research aims and conclusions.

4. Plan Early

Be proactive to plan for what you intend to achieve because the PhD programme can be stressful. Establish some guidelines based on your thesis requirements, this will help you to be effective in achieving your plans.

5. Be Organized 

Be organised enough to classify your work accordingly. Know where you can easily locate your documents. Proper arrangement of documents according to subject, date or time will grant you easy access to what you need at any given time.

6. Have SMART Goals

International PhD students need to break their thesis down into specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely goals. You will be more productive if your to-do list reads “The Draft: First Paragraph of the Results” rather than “write chapter 1”. Many small actions lead to one complete thesis.

7. Strive to finish Strong

You are expected to put in your best as you conduct extensive research and compile your work. However, do not expect that your work will be approved simply because you put in a lot of time and effort. Expect your initial works to come back with lots of corrections before the final masterpiece is approved. Remember, the best thesis is a finished thesis.

8. Be honest with your Supervisor

Let them know if you don’t understand something, if you’ve messed up an experiment or if they forgot to give you feedback. The more honest you are, the better your relationship will be. Helping your supervisor to help you is key.

9. Back up your Work

As a graduate student, always remember to back up every bit of your work. You can help yourself smile again if something happened that u cannot retrieve your documents any more. With the internet, you can save as much work as you can and retrieve it whenever you want without hitches.

10. Be Sociable 

Be flexible enough to create time for recreational activities with colleagues and make friends within your department. Friends can easily advise you as a PhD student on issues you don’t know about and how you can be successful. Never struggle alone.

11. Aim to Publish your Research

Drafting articles and submitting them to journals is a great way to learn new skills and enhance your CV.

12. Avoid Comparison

Comparison can affect your success as a PhD student, therefore, stay focused and make your goals achievable within the stipulated time. This is your opportunity to conduct original research that reveals new information and adds value to your career.

13. Never give Up

Failing to achieve your expectation doesn’t mean that you are a bad student, it just means you are a work in progress. Take corrections and put in more effort to build on your weaknesses.

14. Make your PhD enjoyable

The idea behind bagging a PhD is to work on something that fascinates you. Therefore, enjoy every stage of your journey. Celebrate your successes and work on your weaknesses. Collaborate with other students so you don’t feel overwhelmed with research and writing. Do whatever you need to do to make the experience fun and worthwhile, later on, you’ll thank yourself for it.

15. Have a Life outside Work

Although your lab group is like your work family, it’s great for your mental health to be able to escape work. This could be through sport, clubs, hobbies, holidays or spending time with friends.

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