How to Soothe Your Back to (Grad) School Jitters

August 13, 2020

Stephanie Machado

M.Ed. in Educational Leadership

With a lot on our plates and even more on our minds, you may be thinking you have no idea how you will juggle school, too. Even in the best of circumstances, it’s normal to have those butterflies when embarking on the journey of graduate school. Setting yourself up for success when you start your program is essential and can really help mitigate the nervousness you may be feeling.

Here are a few tips to get you started off on the right foot:


Figure out which tools work best for you when it comes to getting organized. A paper planner is great if you prefer writing things down. If you prefer to go digital, use a calendar on your phone and set reminders for due dates and registration dates  so you don’t have to worry about missing them. And the great thing about ACE is each course follows a similar structure. Once you get into a routine, you’ll feel at ease and the calendar will become your best friend.

Coursework Organization

Before you start your coursework, it’s very helpful to set up a file structure on your computer especially for grad school. This allows you to easily find assignments you are looking for. If your program has an internship requirement, I also recommend keeping your internship documents in a separate folder. You will be so grateful to have all of these documents together and already organized when you get to the end of your program.

Grades & Feedback

As an ACE student, Canvas will soon become your best friend. This is the platform where all your assignments will be housed. It also has a grade book you can access, where you’ll not only see the grades you have earned but you can calculate what your grade will be depending on what you earn on each assignment. Use this functionality to see what you need to earn in order to get the grade you want, and set goals for yourself with that in mind. Additionally, the grade book is where you will access feedback left by your course instructors, which you can see by clicking on the speech bubble next to each assignment. Check it regularly and use the feedback! It will help you to be as successful as possible.


While it may seem challenging to make time to do the things you love once you start your program, know that setting aside time to recharge is essential to your success. Whether it’s a bike ride or watching an episode of your favorite sitcom, finding time for you will make you feel better. Even something as small as making a delicious cup of coffee before you dive into your next set of readings is a simple way to treat yourself.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, take a minute and be proud that you are taking these steps to further your education. The back-to-school jitters are normal – even as an adult. Give yourself some grace and never be afraid to reach out to your professor or adviser if you need guidance along the way.

With flexible, fully online programs designed for working adults, American College of Education makes going back to graduate school attainable. Explore all of our offerings to find the program that best fits your goals.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Stephanie Machado
Stephanie Machado, M.Ed. in Educational Leadership

Stephanie is an instructional coach living in Florida. She's also an avid reader, wannabe chef, and lifestyle blogger.

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