Thoughts on Being a Married Grad Student

Cheryl Tan, 2nd Year Epidemiology Student 

I graduated from college with a double major in Chemistry and economics, then went on to work for 5 years in a consulting company with stressful deadlines. During this time, I met, dated and married my husband of almost 3 years. It was with his support and encouragement that I took the first step in my career switch and applied to Rollins. Personally, being a married grad student has been a wonderful experience, but I didn’t want to speak for all married students so I roped in a couple of lovely ladies to help out with this post. Thanks Ahlia Sekkarie (2nd year Epi) and Erikka Gilliam (2nd Year GH) for their insights on life as a married grad student!

Adjusting to student life again, as a spouse and parent

“The first semester was the toughest for me because I had to learn how to juggle many hours of school, homework and a work study job, while also making time daily to spend with my family. In my previous career I was used to working my 8 – 9 hours, then having my evenings with my son.  After many trials and errors, I realized that the first thing that I had to do was find an optimal time and place where I could study and do classwork. I found that very little school work got done at home because there were just too many distractions. Because my husband works nights, he was unable to help take care of my son while I studied so I started taking him to school with me. This improved my grades tremendously and my son met lots of new friends.”

Living further away from campus

“I have a longer commute than the average student so websites and apps such as Google Maps and Georgia Navigator (http://www.511ga.org/) are great for navigating GA traffic.”

“I found that riding the Emory commuter shuttles from North Dekalb Mall helped save time (from having to drive the longer commute), and save money (because I didn’t have to buy a parking pass). I ended up bringing some of my class reading to do on the shuttle, which wasn’t always punctual!”

Evening classes make it hard to create a class schedule that works around being able to pick kids up from school/daycare … But ADAPs, Professors and other students are really flexible and willing to help!

“Many of the required classes, at least for Global Health occur in the evening, making it difficult for parents who have to pick up children from school. My solution to this problem was to bring my child to class with me. Luckily, he wasn’t disruptive and many times the professors were happy to see a young face in class. Once I had to take a Biostatistics quiz on a day that my son was off from school and Dr. Weiss let him draw on the whiteboard to keep him occupied during the quiz. While Rollins’ curriculum isn’t family friendly, the professors are very accommodating. I found most of my support from fellow students at Rollins. Many students found my son a good stress reliever so they would play with him in the GCR basement while I worked. I’ve had fellow students watch him while I was in interviews and even when I had off campus group meetings.”

Include your spouse/family in Rollin’s extracurricular activities like Convos on Tap, on-campus talks and Emory Grad student events.

“That was how I could develop relationships with classmates while still spending time with family!”

“Living with your spouse and away from the apartment complexes where most of the other grad students reside, means taking extra effort to make it out to school events or to plan hang outs with school friends or making an effort to arrange lunch dates with classmates on days when you are on campus.”

Plan specific times that you will spend with your family

“At times I had to schedule a block of time on my calendar for spouse time even if it was a 15 minute conversation between classes. Although many people would cower at the idea of taking a full day off of school/work, I made it my mission to take Saturdays off as often as possible unless it was midterm or finals week. It works for me but it is up to you to figure out what best works for you.”

“My husband was a tremendous source of support during stressful school periods (exams, writing thesis, searching for a summer internship). It was definitely easy to get so consumed with school that I took him for granted! It’s good to plan a date night every now and then!”

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