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Advice for Incoming Graduate Students at Drexel

September 13, 2023

Graduate students at orientation in Main Building with blue and gold balloons
Graduate students connect at the 2022 orientation event in Main Building.

For graduate students officially starting their education journeys at Drexel University, there’s a lot to absorb about starting a different, rigorous program at a different college (and/or city, and/or country). There’s so much to try and do and learn — but you don’t have to start everything all at once.

Looking for help on what to do and where to go? That’s why 15 current Drexel graduate students shared tips related to starting at the University, connecting with peers and mentors and finding places on and off campus to eat, relax and study. 

Here’s what they had to say:

Advice for new, incoming students? What is something you wish you knew when you started at Drexel?

Reflecting on my graduate journey at Drexel, I wish I had known the importance of networking early on. Building connections with fellow students, professors and professionals in my field would have opened doors to valuable insights and opportunities. Additionally, for international students, proactive preparation is vital. Define a clear career goal early, outlining your desired job role post-coursework. Craft a comprehensive résumé in the initial stages with projects, certifications and work experiences, because this readies you to effectively present yourself during internship searches (which comes at a way too early stage). While I initially felt unprepared, I persevered and secured a co-op opportunity. Learn from my experience and ensure you’re well-equipped to excel in your academic and professional journey. Remember, every experience is a chance to learn and grow, so embrace each moment and make the most of your graduate journey. — Sanket Lalwani, MS in information systems in the College of Computing & Informatics

My advice is to use all the available resources that are offered! This includes tutoring services, reaching out to alumni or second years, using CLASS, meeting with advisors and mentors and so on — even if you don’t think you need those services/meetings. — Arathi Pillai, MS in interdisciplinary health sciences in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies in the College of Medicine.

I would advise incoming students that they should feel comfortable advocating for themselves when they need something or even want something. This journey will be what you make it, and the time will fly, so be sure to always be in control of your education. — Portia Taylor, MS in public policy in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Have a solid out-of-school/lab routine, including cooking, laundry, cleaning and self-care! — Shayna Singh, PhD in neuroscience in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies in the College of Medicine.

Definitely stick to time management, because graduate school is intense. Prioritize tasks, allocate time for each assignment and stick to a schedule. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek help from professors, peers or advisers. They’re there to guide you. — Nijanthan Vasudevan, MS robotics and autonomy in the College of Engineering.

Do you have any tips for making connections with peers and/or with faculty mentors or advisers?

Collaboration in class is key. Within my small cohort, we have connected even in an online setting. We offer suggestions, tips and personal experiences with one another in hopes to better each other’s future careers. You automatically have a strong connection with your cohort, simply working with them throughout your program. — Elizabeth Brouse, MS in nonprofit management, Goodwin College of Professional Studies

One way is to seek out individuals with similar research interests and arrange for informal ways to chat about science and exchange ideas. Another is to share your interests with your peers because you never know who may share your love of rock climbing or visiting museums! — Elizabeth Espinal, PhD in clinical psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Be open to talking to everyone. Ask questions and actually listen to the answers. — Megan Nelson, MHS in physician assistant in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Talk, email, chat and repeat. That’s all. There are many open doors on this campus. If one door doesn’t solve your problem, knock on the next door and move on. You will definitely find what you need. — Partheepsiva PrasadPulikallu Veerala, MS in business analytics in the Bennett S. LeBow College of Business.

Opt in for a roommate! They are built-in/forced friends! — Catherine Thompson, MS in health sciences (PA program) in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

What are your favorite places to visit on or off campus?

Halal carts! They are super accessible and quite affordable. Best of all, the food tastes ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. — Srinivas Pai, MS in data science in the College of Computing & Informatics.

Fairmount Park is great for a long run/walk! Drexel Park is great for the city view and is nearby too. — Purvi Panchal, MS in business analytics in the LeBow College of Business.

I love the [Drexel] Recreation Center for fitness. Food-wise, Shake Shack is always a go-to. — Brandon Smith, PhD in Materials Engineering in the College of Engineering.

My favorite place to hang on campus is the Rush Building. There’s some cool art on the first floor and a lot of resources for students throughout the building. Off campus, I enjoy checking out the free live music events that are around Philly almost weekly. Also, there’s a great monthly community dinner that Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships hosts on 35th and Spring Garden streets. — Portia Taylor, MS in Public Policy in the College of Arts and Sciences

Ross Commons and the Rec Center are great for the gym/sport/games. I’d recommend Shake Shack and LaScala’s Fire for food around the campus. The W. W. Hagerty library, Ross Commons and the Rush Building have good study rooms. — Evan Velagaleti, MS computer science in the College of Computing and Informatics.

Rachel Mroz, communications & events co-op in the Graduate College and a political science major in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Sandra Strang, director of communications & events in the Graduate College, contributed with the collection of answers.