I'm an undergrad student studying physics and math and I will be graduating very soon. I might be going to a PhD program in the US and an MSc program in the UK (in the same field). When I reflect on my undergrad studies, I realized I spent too much time on academics to maintain a decent GPA. However, I didn't spend enough time socializing and communicating with different people. Now I feel like I probably should be more sociable and focus on something else to get prepared for grad school.

My question is how can I switch from the current 'knowledge acquisition mode' to the lifestyle of a post-graduate student? I know in my field, the grad courses (for both programs) will still be intense. I'm worried about whether I'm able to balance academics and social activities. Is it essential to keep a good GPA in a master's program (for future PhD application) and PhD program (for applying internship/summer schools, etc)?

Thanks for the help and advice :)

  • 2
    I think I'm still mostly in 'knowledge acquisition mode' almost 4 decades after my BSE. I guess I don't really get what you are asking - yes, you need social interactions. No, there is not a definitive 'lifestyle' of, well, anyone. What fits you is what fits you.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 15:47
  • @Jon Custer Thanks for the comment! My concern is if I spend more time on joining activities and expanding the network, would that be okay if I just have an average grade as a PhD student?
    – IGY
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 15:52
  • @IGY okay for whom? For me personally I'd rather enjoy my life than spend every waking moment studying. But for others, working that hard is fulfilling/enjoyable. Of course there are extreme cases at both ends: the key is to find a balance that you're happy with. (And grades don't matter as a PhD student. At all. In fact I don't think any country outside the US even has the concept of grades during a PhD.) Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 12:51
  • @astronat Thank you!!
    – IGY
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


If you continue your studies then you won't find it very different from undergraduate school. It will get more intense, actually, in a doctoral program. And successful academics never stop learning.

But isolation isn't a good practice for most people. And for extreme cases a visit with a professional is called for.

In the general case, however, you can just add some activities a bit at a time until you feel comfortable. Even group/paired study can get you a bit of a life. Some places with a lot of similarly situated students have a tradition of weekly sports activities, say baseball in the US. It was also a chance for spouses of married students to get involved in a larger social circle.

But the intensity of study isn't likely to lessen. It isn't like a switch will be thrown. You probably need to work into a more social environment gradually.

If you leave academia then the change will be pretty abrupt. But you will hopefully have some people in a new job to help you adjust.

  • Thanks, that helps :)
    – IGY
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 16:01

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