Even though this is my 4th year in a doctoral program, I was recently reminded of the importance of self-care. Over the summer, I found myself staying faithful to a good exercise routine and participating in the free cycling course at the SRSC. Once summer came to its inevitable end, my workouts stopped. They did not slow down or gradually decrease, I mean they completely stopped. This was partially due to my schedule and also not wanting to make trips to campus on days that I did not have to be there. However, my main reason for not working out was that I wanted to relax during the little free time I had instead during the first month of the semester. While I possibly saved myself some aches and pains in the moment, I lost all of the benefits that come along with working out regularly. After taking over a month off from the gym, I recently returned and am trying to get into a new rhythm for this semester. Due to scheduling conflicts, I will not be able to have one workout partner this semester, but it looks like I will be able to piece together some sort of routine where I can lift with friends. This extra accountability will hopefully be enough to keep me in the gym now that the semester has settled down. Moral of the story: make time for the gym! Author Michael Altshuler states that, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot.”
While all graduate students have different schedules, I thought for this blog entry I would share what my typical week looks like as a Ph.D. student in Education Policy Studies. Please note, my schedule for this semester is 10x better than it was last semester!
Mondays-Class 9:30AM-12:15PM, Work 12:30-4PM
Monday morning classes are rare in my program, but this year there was no avoiding it. While I enjoy the course, it is a bummer as I must return to Bloomington by Sunday evening in the event that I go out of town for the weekend. My part-time job is with the Balfour Scholars Program and, fortunately, I can set my own hours so I choose to work Mondays after class is out.
I rarely leave my apartment and avoid scheduling any meetings or appointments on this day. It is nice waking up on Tuesdays knowing that I do not have to go to campus and am on my own schedule. I tend to complete several assignments on Tuesdays.
For the first eight-weeks, I only teach one section but the second eight-weeks I will teach two sections. It is really convenient that I was able to have all of my teaching on one day. I also try to do some grading on Wednesdays. I am an Associate Instructor (AI) for the Student Academic Center (SAC) and it is a great place to work! If you are in need of a graduate assistantship and are interested in teaching, check them out.
Thursdays-Bible Study at 7PM
The only time I have to leave my place on Thursdays is for bible study. As a result, I tend to put in a few hours at the Balfour office prior to bible study. Since I already have to leave my apartment, I am more flexible with scheduling meetings and appointments on Thursdays than I am on Tuesdays. I also use Thursdays as a reading day for my Monday class.
Fridays-Staff Training at 1PM
Each Friday, the SAC has a staff meeting for our undergraduate teaching interns and I am often charged with leading the meetings. After the training is over, I usually stay at the SAC to finish my grading for the week and run copies for my next class. In the evening, I usually get together with friends. Last Friday, a group of us went to IU Late Nite which featured karaoke and free bowling.
Saturdays are mainly work days during the morning and afternoon and then I hang out with friends in the evening. Sundays are mainly work days after I get home from church.
I should also note that this semester I have a weekend class. We only meet 5 times throughout the semester: three Saturdays from 12-5PM and two Sundays from 9AM-2PM. It is actually a pretty good deal and frees up my schedule during the week.
I hope this day-to-day has given you somewhat of an idea of what life may be like for you as a graduate student!
With a new semester beginning on Monday, I thought I would share some steps and tips that I take to prepare myself.
Purchase color-coded notebooks and folders-Maybe this is because I am a former middle school teacher, but I still purchase the same color notebooks and folders for each class. This small trick makes organization a bit easier.
Say no as needed-The beginning of the semester always seems to bring a ton of meetings, appointments, etc. Say no when you need to. The new semester can already be overwhelming with new classes so you may need to focus on your studies and hold off on scheduling non-urgent meetings and appointments.
Schedule time for yourself-It may not happen if you don’t! If going to the gym is important to you, put it on your schedule as if it is a class and make it happen. Same goes for massages, seeing friends, weekend getaways, etc.
Happy New Year!
For those contemplating a return to school, I thought it might be useful to give you a snapshot of what the final weeks of the semester look like. To provide some context, I am a third-year Ph.D. student in Education Policy Studies. Let’s begin with the Thanksgiving break that wasn’t…
While I enjoyed the opportunity to go home for a week, I went into break with one smaller paper to complete (7-10 pages) before returning to school, and two larger papers (20+ pages) due on December 11th. Since I did not want to be working on two large papers at the same time, I decided that I would complete my smaller paper and put a big dent in one of the larger ones. The good news is that I completed the smaller paper and put a dent in the larger paper! However, this came at a cost. One, I did not tell many friends that I would be in town because I knew I would not have time to see them. I work best when I have full days to work as opposed to days broken up by luncheons and dinners. Second, I chose to cut my break two days short because I knew I would get more work done at my apartment in Bloomington than at home where I would rather be spending time with my family. So, while I technically had a break, I also felt like I did not have much of one since I was still doing work. While this was a sacrifice, it definitely paid off upon my return.
While several of my friends were cramming to complete several large assignments in the final weeks, I was left with just a few pages to finish on one paper and then my other large paper. There is no right or wrong answer here; you just have to know what works best for you. Some people needed Thanksgiving break to rejuvenate and then tackle all of their work during the last few weeks. I knew that it would be better for me to get work done over the break, so I only had one major assignment to complete afterwards. As a result, I finished up my semester on Friday, December 8th leaving me with a full month of no work before returning on January 8th. This time, I will tell my friends I am home!
Happy Holidays, and I hope that you have an opportunity to take a little break as well!
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!