Happy New Year! Starting a New Semester by Thomas Elton IV

Getting back into the routine of school after winter break can be challenging. This is the time to order your books, purchase your parking pass for the new semester, and any other materials or supplies you need to replenish to make sure you continue to do well with your graduate studies.

Before the semester begins it may seem that you have a lot to do and you’re “on break” but here is a list of a few  things you may or may not have thought of to do to ensure you begin the next semester smoothly.

  • Clean and organize school stuff. Recycle all those articles and papers you printed that you do not need. If you believe they could be useful in the future, organize them by putting them in a folder so that you can easily access them later.
  • Check your emails! In graduate school you may find that even though you are “on break” not everyone else is. There may be emails regarding your financial aid, research, volunteer, internship, or even employment opportunities. For example, I recently checked my email, and the initial application window for a position was only 6 days. If I had waited to check my email, I would have missed my opportunity to apply.
  • Clean and stay up to date with your housekeeping. Although you are on break, you do not want to start the semester having chores to do on the first day. For example do all of your laundry, so that it is one less thing that you have to worry about when beginning the semester. Also do any other regular housekeeping tasks such as sweeping (vacuuming) floors.
  • Go grocery shopping and clean out your fridge.  When you have a lot more time than during the semester, stock up with your food. Since winter break is a few weeks, our refrigerators may become bare because food does go bad. This is because we may travel during the holidays and any food that can not last a few weeks will need to be thrown out. I personally like to make sure that I purchase milk, fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks during this time.
  • Make a list of things you do not want to forget. This list can include everything aforementioned in this post. This list can also include anything else you feel that you need to do before the semester begins. I like to physically write my list down but you can do it however you like (i.e making the list in your phone).

These are just a few suggestions that work for me when beginning a new semester  after winter break. Feel free to use them and good luck!

Getting Through The Semester with Breaks

Getting through the semester as a graduate student is tough work. Midterm time is different from when in undergraduate school. This is because one may or may not have tests. For me this semester, I did not have any midterm tests but I still had several assignments on my plate to keep me busy. A sixteen week semester in graduate school can feel very long while in the moment but before you know it, you’ll only have only six weeks or less left. It is important to work ton continue to work hard in your studies but it is also a good idea to make sure you have some personal time away from your school work.

This personal time can include trying a new restaurant with friends, taking the time to be physically active or just watching something you enjoy on television once a week. For me this includes getting together with friends to try some of the local restaurants that I haven’t been to (even though I have been here for over a year). Also it does not have to be expensive, you and your friends could take the $10-$20 each that you all would spend at a restaurant , put it together and buy a lot more food to cook and then watch a football game (something else I have also done this semester).

When it comes to being physically active, you as a graduate student will pay student fees and with those student feels, a membership to the gym usually included. Different universities have different names for their gyms. For example here at Indiana University Bloomington it is called the Student Recreation Sports Center (also commonly termed the SRSC). However at my undergraduate institution, it was the Wellness Center. University gyms have cardio equipment, weight machines, and free weights. There are also plenty of resources that may be available to you such as exercise classes, or access to a pool. If you paid the student fee and not utilized your school’s gym, it is almost like you’re paying not to go (wasting your money!). So take advantage of your graduate school’s resources and go get your money’s worth! Being physically active is beneficial for your health and it can also be a healthy way to deal with the rigor of your graduate program to help you get through the rest of the semester.

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!