Surviving (the First Year) of Grad School

The primary goal of Grad School is Doing Research. You'll find a lot of other demands on your time: Class work, Qualifying Exams, the impenetrabilty of research papers and seminars. This will not have been the first time that you have conflicting demands being placed on your time! Nor will it be the last.

Nevertheless, here is some advice. If you have more, I'll be happy to add to this page.
Continue to Look for Grants/Fellowships
Especially, as a first year grad student, you will be eligible for a lot of grad fellowships. Apply for them! You can use one or two letters from your undergrad home, plus one from your grad home. Letters of reference don't have to be written until December. So pick a letter writer, someone who you might be your advisor. And make the "A" in the class, go to seminar, read a paper. Do what it takes to meet the goal of doing research.
  • Pass the Qualifying Exams/Comprehensives (or whatever they are) quickly. Many places will offer new students a free attempt at these exams. Feelings of paranoia and inadequecy are strong motivators for studying. Use them as such.
  • Learn (La)TeX. You will need to any way, and after a bit, you'll find it much easier to type your HW than write it by hand.
  • Go to Seminars! A seminar will be a mixture of overview and technical detail. Learn to master both.
  • Ask a prof for a paper to read. If it is very technical, ask for a list of the primary examples to keep in mind. Or ask for a survey article. Use MathSci to find related sources. Go back and ask about related issues.
  • Once your area of thesis research is narrowed down to something less than "all of mathematics" find out about going to conferences in that area. A huge part of what is interesting and important about the current developments in an area are oral. You can't find out the good bits without going to a conference, and talking math with a bunch of people.