End of the year grind

African American and Africa Diaspora Studies PhD student types paper during finals weekJournalism PhD student Katrina studying in IU's main libraryStudying is one of the best things you can do to get into graduate school. It doesn’t depend on anyone else, you can do it in class, after work, before hanging out, right before and after sleeping. Studying is on you, and if you don’t do it before grad school, you may still get in, but it will be difficult to keep up with your colleagues, your cohort, and your professor’s expectations. I didn’t read much before graduate school, and it negatively affected my GRE score, which in turn decreased my chances for funding. Had I read in undergrad, the verbal portion of the GRE wouldn’t have seemed so foreign to me. Had it not been for my strong math background, I wouldn’t have broken 1000 (old GRE scale, back when 1200 was the high).


So what can you do now, read. Take the GRE again to get the higher verbal score, and submit that with your application. Read, and mention the books and articles you’ve read in your application and personal statement. Read, that’s half the PhD process.

Identify how you read best, do you retain more when you are listening to music, alone in your room, swiping through pages on your nook, kindle, or ipad, listening to books on tape/cd/mp3, or reading in a group; find out what works best for you and get started.  Reading required texts for your program can become boring, so take the time now before starting your program to read books and study subjects outside of your field.  Read some fiction, poetry, and a novel or two.  It is always a plus to be well-rounded, and regardless of how much money you have, with access to public libraries and the open web, anyone can be well-read.  Every book includes a new word, a different approach to an idea, or even a new concept that you can learn and draw upon when writing your personal statement or taking the GRE. Do not discredit or underestimate the power and significance of simply reading. Many current graduate students will tell you that you only need to skim articles in graduate school, but that advice comes with the assumption that you already did plenty of reading before entering the program.  Study now, read now, it will make graduate school much more accessible and manageable for you in the long run.  It is the end of year, grind it out in the library and read.

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About Carl D

I have a passion for helping college students to succeed. To practice my passion I work as an Associate Instructor for a minority achievers program and serve as an advisor to diverse student orgranizations. Additionally, I aim to strengthen ties between the common man and the scholar in my work on "town & gown" partnerships; serving on committees for the city, and promoting civic engagment among my colleagues and those I mentor. Finally, I research Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and seek best practices for how to best promote the merit and quality of these distinguished institutions to the masses.

3 thoughts on “End of the year grind

  1. Read your post. I guess you ae saying that nearly all of graduate school will involve reading and writing.Thanks for the advice.

  2. As far as it concerns the humanities, yes. If you’re going into STEM, however, this may be a bit different.

  3. Thanks for the comment. I wrote this from my phone and it all concerned comments/advice off the top of my head. I don’t claim for anything in this post to be cold hard facts, simply my perspective of graduate student life at IU.

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