Preliminary Steps for Applying to Graduate School

1) Are You Ready: Determine if you have the time (this is a very time intensive process), resources (applying and/or traveling for interviews can cost a lot of money), qualifications/experience to make a competitive application for programs you will be applying to. If not, then you may want to consider waiting to apply until you do.

2) Picking Programs: You want to begin narrowing down a list of 5-15 (this varies a lot by interest, degree, and discipline) places to apply. You can do this by asking professors, checking the places where the research you are interested in is being conducted, consulting books that outline the different components of programs across the country in your field.

3) Make A Timeline: Determine when you’re going to complete all the necessary components for your applications : narrowing down your list of programs, polishing your CV, personal and/or research statements, obtaining letters of recommendation, completing the application itself, taking and sending in GRE scores, etc. Having a plan will help you get everything done in a timely manner.

Far Reaching

C. Morton 2017

Photo Credit C. Morton 2017

Upon entering my doctoral program, I was told by one of my professors that doctoral study is a lonely process. I have never been one for crowds. So while I appreciated the notice, I did not put deep thought into her proclamation. Now in my fourth year of the doctoral process, I have a deeper appreciation for her words.

While the physical solitude of distance from friends and family stings at times, pursuing a doctoral degree for me has been more mentally isolating as I cultivate my academic self. In order to add to the body of knowledge I had to first consider who I am, who I am as a researcher, and who I want to be as a scholar. I encourage others to consider some of these questions before entering a program of study. For me the answers shaped my ontological and epistemological understandings of the purpose and goal of research. In turn, my understanding of my truths has shaped the courses I have taken and the way I frame my research.

Labor Day Weekend Musings…

Welcome to our blog site and to a new school year! As I sit here munching on a plate of study food and talking to you, I still can’t believe we are almost through with summer. But, like you, I’m excited about the new year and once again know we are in the right place at this time in our lives.

You know, I always do this–just jump right into a conversation without introducing myself lol. Let me roll this back a bit: Hi, nice to meet you. My name is Amy Aiyegbusi. I’m a 2nd year PhD student in the department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at IU Bloomington, completing a concentration on the ethno side. I completed my BA at IU in English with various minors and my MA in European Studies at IU, plus I am a Bloomington townie, so you could say I know my way around here some:) I’m pretty accessible via email if you ever would have any questions for me about either the city or the University, so feel free to contact me at if you need something.

So, as I sit here on a long Labor Day weekend and think about the fact that I’m inside managing my coursework instead of walking around in the sunshine, I can’t really complain. I went out last night with a friend to Indy (here’s a food pic, which was fabulous, as always), shopped a little online and organized all of my deadlines for this semester in my calendar. Academics is all about figuring out your current priorities weighed against your long-term goals, and so far this year, I seem to be doing something right. Oh yeah, almost forgot–it’s just the beginning of the 3rd week. Check in with me in about a month and we’ll see how I’m still feeling;) lol

Bis später,




Researching Potential Graduate Schools by Thomas Elton IV

This month’s entry will discuss researching potential graduate school programs. This process can start as early as freshman year (to give you time to meet admission requirements for a school you want to go to), or senior year or later depending on when you want to enroll in a graduate program.
When researching potential graduate school programs one should do the following:

1. Determine what type of graduate degree you want to earn. There are many graduate degrees out there; you need to decide if you want a MA, MS, MBA, MPA, MPH, MSW or other graduate degree. With this step you should also decide if there is a specific area within that degree that you would like to concentrate or focus on. Some schools may not have the degree at all while others may have your selected degree with a focus or concentration that no other school may have. Some schools may even offer dual graduate degree options.

2. Investigate which schools have your selected degree/degrees with your interest area. Once you have decided what you want to study, you need to research what schools have those programs and make a list of those potential schools.

3. Investigate admission requirements and application deadlines for the potential schools. Once you have generated a list of potential programs, go through the list and look up the admission requirements for each school. Graduate programs will have different admission requirements that may include but are not limited to one’s GPA, standardized test scores, classes that one should have taken, or even work experience. For example a graduate program may require an applicant to have a 3.5 GPA, score 300 on the GRE, and have an undergraduate degree in a related field; while another program may require a 3.3 GPA, doesn’t require a standardized test score if you meet the GPA requirement, and the requirement for undergraduate degree is the fact that you have earned one in any field of study. Once you have researched the admission requirements of potential graduate programs, you can remove all of the schools on the list that you do not meet or do not see yourself meeting their requirements. Also at this time, if early enough you can start meeting requirements that you have not met. For example if a program requirement is that you take a biology course and you have time before graduate, you can register and take the course so that you can fulfill the requirement and potentially apply to the school if you want to.

4. Look at the remaining schools on the list and consider their location, the type of institution, cost and what type of funding do they provide. Once you have a list of schools you have decided you are eligible to apply for, begin looking at the schools as a whole to find out where you might want to go. Some questions that you may want to answer are:

A) Is the school a public, or private institution?

B) How far the institution from where you currently are and do you have to pay out of state tuition?

C) How much will a graduate degree at this institution cost you and do they offer fellowships, graduate assistantships, or research assistantships?

Once you have done your research, you can take or retake the standardized tests, work toward and meet requirements if have not. After this you can make the decisions on which programs you would like to move forward and apply for. Good Luck!

FALLing into the New Academic Year

Photo by Garrett C

Photo by Garrett C

The first few weeks of class have certainly proven to be busy! I just began my third year as a Ph.D. student in the Education Policy Studies program. It feels great to be at this point in my academic journey not only because it means that I am getting closer to the finish line, but also because I am much more familiar with this vast campus and the resources that it offers. After a recent appointment with my advisor, I am reminded that there is still much that I have to do, but I am not overwhelmed and can see how I will get there.

I have many goals for this year and one of them is to attend more school events. I often hear graduate students speak with such pride about their undergraduate institutions and years, but that same pride and excitement is not necessarily there now. Yes, we are older and the academic load is more rigorous, but this year I want to connect more with my institution. I recently attended IU Late Night with some friends and we had a great time. We went through an escape room, played virtual reality games, ate and received t-shirts and other free items. I also attended my first Big Ten football game on Thursday when I saw IU play OSU at a sold-out Memorial Stadium. While we did not win, I had a great time being an Indiana Hoosier!

10 things about the 2017 eclipse you must know

Hello, Readers!

Firstly, check out IU’s plans for the eclipse right here: Everyone in Indiana will see a partial eclipse.

Map of the Eclipse, Courtesy:

(1) Do not look at the Sun during the partial eclipse, UNLESS you have the right solar eclipse viewing glasses. Check here if you have the right glasses: Look at the map above to find out if you are in the totality or not.

(2) You can look at the sky during totality. If you are under the path of totality, you still CANNOT look at the Sun at all times, except for the duration of totality. The totality is when the Moon completely blocks the Sun. In 2017, the totality may last from 1 second to up to 2 minutes 40 seconds.

(3) About Glasses. Trivial but important: do not look up and then wear glasses. Always wear glasses with your head down, and then look upwards toward the sky and find the Sun.

(4) Eclipse without glasses. If you don’t have glasses, here is a way to make your own pinhole camera:
Leaves act as excellent pinhole cameras.

Sun during a solar eclipse through the leaves of a tree. By User:Ellywa (Self-photographed) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sun during a solar eclipse through the leaves of a tree. By User:Ellywa (Self-photographed) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

(5) This eclipse is the first Transcontinental Total Solar Eclipse in the USA in 99 years. Interstate highway system didn’t exist the last time.

(6) Largest Organized Mass Transportation. The eclipse will be the largest organized mass transportation in the US history. Expect the traffic on all major highways to be crazy. Plan to have sufficient gas. Carry extra food. Finding restrooms will be hard.

(7) Eclipse in 2024. Another total solar eclipse will come to the United States in 2024.

(8) Total solar eclipses are rare for a given physical location. Los Angeles will see the next total solar eclipse in the year 3290. On April 1st.

Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France.  Credit: Luc Viatour / via Wikimedia Commons.

Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. Credit: Luc Viatour / via Wikimedia Commons.

(9) The eclipse is evidence that the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun are round. The event is an appreciation of the astronomical size scales, the Sun is so far away (~8.5 light minutes) that it appears to be the same size as the Moon. The Moon is so little that about 50 of those can fit inside Earth, and the Earth is so tiny that more than a million Earth can fit inside the Sun.

(10) Eclipses have occurred since the formation of the solar system, but total solar eclipses will stop happening after a long time, once the Moon recedes sufficiently father away from us. Yes, the Moon’s orbit is getting larger, at a rate of about 38 millimeters per year. At this rate, the Moon’s distance from the Sun will always be astronomically high.



Image Caption: Eclipse in Bloomington, Courtesy:

A new paradigm – How to sustain focus ?

There were a couple of people having a boisterous conversation in the lobby just outside where I was working. My laptop fan was whizzing like a jet engine due to the intensive task it was carrying out. All those sounds reached my ears but my mind was concentrated on the task as if it was in Microsoft’s Anechoic Chamber. Although my mobile phone is in silent mode, there were many incoming messages, notifications, and emails to my mobile phone. Aroma of the flavor from the food which was being reheated in the Informatics kitchen was very much distracting. Though I had not eaten any food in the last 6 hours, I was indifferent and was focussed on the task at hand.

I did not bother about whether I am going to finish the task that day or not. I could not care less if I would get any reward or appreciation for it. I did not think, nor plan any contingencies in the case of a failure of the task at hand. I did not know that it would benefit or harm anyone at any point in the future. I had not blabbered about the task, neither complained about it to any of my friends. It may not be super interesting task to most people in the world who were doing such tasks daily neither for those who were starters.

I was simply making my computer crunch a bunch of numbers and perform some large computations. It is neither a humungous task nor a minuscule one. I simply did not care about its size. I was super interested in performing it, though. I felt like I was swimming in the middle of an ocean by myself. I did not know whether I would be rescued, reach the shore, be eaten, or just die of exhaustion. I was not hungry, neither thirsty. I was swimming for the sake of swimming because I enjoy swimming.

Now, this may sound a little extraordinary. One may argue that one cannot be this focussed every day. Trust me this is what I had been learning in my grad school and I have been very fortunate to have discovered the secret to such unadulterated concentration. From the moment I had known the secret, I have been creating wonders. Whatever the task had been, I have been learning to focus and enjoy doing it.

“One has to learn that the result is not important”

Krishna in Bhagavadgita (A mythical God)

The secret is that one should not have the desire for the result. The motivation you may get from the result is temporary or misleading. But if your love for what you do is genuine and unadulterated, not even a tornado can distract you. Of course, each and every task we do would not be so lovely. But, one can develop a genuine relationship with anything in this world. All it takes is practice and giving.

“The mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but is subdued by practice”

Krishna in Bhagavadgita

I was not a great coder, nor was in love with it on the day I started coding. It was intimidating and It took me a lifetime to be a decent coder. I have been understanding myself and coding every single day. Although many situations stressed me, I had been learning to never feel any pressure of becoming the best, nor show any genuine interest in any results from it while enjoying it. When you associate yourself with either an art, a sport, or a person, or anything in the world, without any desire, such relationship would be so pure and would prosper for a lifetime! Not convinced yet? I am attaching a magical video about how a small kid with a growth hormone deficiency from Argentina changed the world of soccer for good. Hi is my living legend, my idol, and one of the greatest Soccer players of all time: Messi. Watch him, till the end to experience a paradigm shift. Now go create wonders every single day!

Please let your thoughts flow in the comments below!

#hollaatascholar: Building Your Support Network on the Road to Getting PhinisheD

Monday morning around 8am, I get a text message from one of my sista-friends asking me along with four or five other female doctoral students, “Where and what time are we working today?” Tuesday morning, same question…maybe a different person. Wednesday, Thursday, and even Friday or Saturday morning, same question. It’s like clockwork.

Continue reading

Life in Bloomington: Spring Semester-Winter Edition

January officially marks the second winter season and month that I have endured living in Bloomington, Indiana as a graduate student. As a native from Miami, Florida, this seasonal change, at times, makes it difficult for me to get out bed as early as I would like to some mornings to complete some much needed work. Despite the fact that the seasons come and go in Bloomington, one thing that I try to do to manage my physical and mental response to the “cold” is plan ahead.

For me, planning ahead during the winter months usually involves checking the weather app on my IPhone well in advance to accommodate my wardrobe and transportation for school commutes to teach or attend classes. Planning for the “cold” also means spending a little extra time meal prepping and getting those extra “fifteen” minutes of sleep in that become much needed to be able to get through the day without the luxury of more than one coffee break.

Although intentional planning is vital to ensuring great performance as an undergraduate or graduate student at IU, it can be tough to achieve or maintain if you allow the season to get the best of you. Sure, we all get sick, and even have our unproductive days. But, one thing is for certain, students of any classification should not check-out of their responsibilities just because the weather makes them “feel like” doing so. At times, the hardest thing to do is wake up about an hour and a half before class to prepare breakfast, get dressed, check some emails, and then scrape snow off of your car while letting it warm up for fifteen minutes.

You may even consider, in freezing rain and snow warning instances, waking up and getting your car warmed up first, or checking the bus schedule to make sure there are no unexpected delays when its time for you to leave your home. Ultimately, the early winter months in Bloomington can be brutal, especially if you are not used to preparing for the weather the same way you would kind of  prepare for class. As the “cold” wind blows, incoming and current Bloomington students know that it is better to be overdressed with layers and gloves, and up earlier to get ready, as opposed to under the weather and academically “snowed-in.”

I’m glad to say that I’ve adjusted to the seasons with some help from some native Midwesterners, and I keep my spirits high by maintaining a proactive lifestyle and warm personality.