Bloomington in the autumn

The autumn is probably one of the best seasons to spend in Bloomington.  With the crisp air, falling colored leaves, and smells of barbeque and tailgates, it brings to you the true college town atmosphere.  Not only is Bloomington ranked as one of the best college towns in the U.S., but it should also be considered to be one of the best destinations for visitors and tourists.

With nearby Brown County, stroll the streets of Nashville, IN, shopping for antiques, boutiques, and goodies.  Stop by The Big Woods Pizza and Brewing Co. for a local brew and pizza.  This weekend, we had the Breakfast Pizza … biscuits and gravy with an omelet all in one! Mmmm …

Don’t forget the infamous Oliver Winery.  An Indiana favorite has jazz festivals, outdoor seating, and fun activities for the whole family.  They also have an outlet on the Square in downtown Bloomington.

Lastly, the city of Bloomington has cool boutiques and local restaurants to match your flare.  Chose from “farm-to-table,” ethnic, and good “down home” Indiana and American fare!

Book your trip to visit IU today!

Whew … Quals … CHECK!

Depending on the institution, your comprehensive exam(s) is another hurdle to jump through to obtain your Ph.D. Some institutions call them your comprehensive exams, others call them qualification exams.  I just finished my two qualification exams, and I feel good … kinda! ;)

I hope I did well, but to have these exams in the middle of the semester while I am teaching, research, and conducting other academic responsibilities can be stressful and overwhelming!  Don’t fret … I chose to do them in the middle of the semester, so I guess I asked for it.

They say that if you made it far enough to the qualification exam process then there is no reason why you wouldn’t do well on the exams.  I sure hope this is the case.  Anyhow, I’m one step closer to ABD … all but dead! ;)

Know that when you get to this point, you are not alone!  I had lots of support from friends, family, colleagues, and professors and advisors.  Thank you all!

Too big? or too small?

Coming to a Carnegie Research 1 institution may seem daunting, especially if you are coming from a small liberal arts college.  However, there are many benefits to a large institution.  First of all, the resources and facilities are plentiful.  It’s easy to find the books and equipment you need.  Even if the campus does not have it, one of the other IU campuses may and it will be shipped to you for free!  In addition, the diversity of the student body allows you to interact with international students, those with different upbringings and backgrounds, and others in a field of study you may not have ever heard about.  Interdisciplinary work can be exciting at a campus like this!

Besides academically, there are plenty of options for extracurricular activities to participate in and get involved with.  Whether you are artsy, political, religious, or just plain ol’ wanna chill with your friends there’s something for everyone!  Don’t get frightened with the size of the institution.  Nothing can be TOO BIG, right?  Super size my graduate degree!! Well, maybe not like that, but a place like IU has everything for everyone (except for engineers ;))!

Why come to IU?

If you are checking out this post, you should be scheduling a trip to Bloomington soon! Indiana University Bloomington has high caliber academics and a vibrant campus life and community.

If you are a fanatic sports fan, join us at the football tailgates and basketball game watches. Don’t forget to buy your season tickets to see the game live too! You will love the atmosphere in Assembly Hall. WOW! The cheers and screams exhibit our school pride! Also, don’t forget our championship soccer and baseball teams. Most sports events are free of charge for students!

If you aren’t into sports, the world-renowned Jacobs School of Music has amazing ballet and opera productions. Watching a show in the Musical Arts Center is like being at the Metropolitan in New York City. Really! Don’t believe me, come and check it out yourself! Also, our IU Auditorium has traveling Broadway shows and concerts, and don’t forget the Union Board events in the Indiana Memorial Union. I’m watching a movie there tonight in Whittenberger Auditorium!

A short stroll off-campus through our front door – the Sample gates – brings you to Kirkwood Avenue. A downtown vibrant with ethnic food, nightlife, shopping, and leisure activities is a good excuse to take a break from studying. Festivals and events line the streets during the spring, summer, and fall. Don’t forget the Farmer’s Market at Shower’s City Hall.

If you are an outdoors person, go hiking in our rolling forests and watch the leaves change colors in the autumn. Brown County, one of Indiana’s most beautiful places in the fall, is only a short drive away. Check out boating and fishing at our lakes, and if you are a novice, check out and be a member of IU Outdoor Adventures.

IU and Bloomington is filled with fun activities to keep you busy! Come for a visit and you will feel right at home! See you soon and GO IU!

Should you go to grad school or go to work? Trust your gut!

Especially in today’s economy, this question is asked constantly. Should students go back to school? How much will it cost? What is the opportunity cost? How much would I make if I worked? When deciding whether to apply to grad schools, people ask a multitude of questions, including these. Many are concerned whether going to graduate school is a good economic decision. Although this is important to consider, I would suggest that you trust your gut!

If you are unsure about how graduate school fits in your future plans, then maybe you should wait to work and then figure out what your passion is. If you know that you do want to go to grad school, then do it because the funding piece will fall into place. I recommend that you do what makes you happy.

After going to graduate school, then entering the workplace, I knew I wanted to go back. Sure, there is an opportunity cost as I am foregoing potential income; however, I LOVE what I do and what I will be doing for the rest of my life!

TRUST YOUR GUT and go forth! GOOD LUCK! … and welcome back to school!

Campus internationalization

Internationalization is both an internal and external phenomenon for higher education institutions.  Because of our globalized world economy and the increase in international opportunities, this impacts everyone no matter their interests of study and research.  Whether or not you study physics, education, law, business, or psychology, our worlds are becoming more and more international.  That is why it is important to consider how international your institution is when deciding where to attend.

IU is international.  Along with its international strategic plan and its new School of Global and International Studies, IU’s alumni reach all corners of the world.  The programs here allow for study, research, and travel abroad to learn about your area of discipline in another country.  Experiences like these can only help you in your pursuit for a job.

Campus visits are important!

Now that everything is submitted, it is now time to wait for responses. It is important to keep in mind that rejection letters are inevitable. Don’t let them get you down. There are many options out there, and it is not the end of the world.

However, you should still be proactive in the meantime while you are waiting. Do you yet know your list of preferred schools and why you want to attend them? Have you visited them? Visiting an institution and getting the “feel” to what it is like to be there will help you make a decision and not regret it later. Each institution is different. The campus life, environment, and structure can be a huge impact on how you will enjoy spending years there. Do you like big cities? Small college towns? A scenic campus to walk through? Visit, visit, visit! Visit IU by emailing us at emissary@indiana.edu! I hope to meet you at IU! GO HOOSIERS!

Publishing … an important component of academia!

So holiday break brought some good news … an article I worked with a professor on will be published in the Education Law Reporter. An important aspect of academia is to research, write, and publish.  Some tips to accomplish these goals are:

1. Find good mentors who know the system well and can guide you through them

2. Collaborate with faculty members and other graduate students.  Find where your strengths can compliment theirs.

3. Work together and keep each other accountable.  Working with others help you keep yourself accountable and on track to achieve a goal.

4. Research and write on topics that interest you. This is a long process and if you are not interested in the work you are doing, it will become a task not a pleasure!

5. And last but not least … have fun!  Write about interesting and current topics, but also collaborate with fun colleagues!  You can learn so much from each other but also have so much fun!

Good luck!  Research … and write!

Grades and good test scores are important … but not a life & death matter!

Many folks are concerned that if they messed up freshman or sophomore year with their academics and their GPA isn’t as good as they would want, there is no hope for graduate school.   Others are not as good test takers as others and are worried that their performance will hinder their admissions.  Remember that graduate school is not a life and death matter!  There is always hope and if you want it badly, you can achieve it!  YOU CAN DO IT!

If your GPA or graduate standardized test scores are low, supplement them with other positive characteristics of your application.  You may want to get another masters degree that is relevant to your field of interest to perform better as an illustration of your academic abilities.  Getting a job in your field of study and performing well in it will show schools your work ethic.  Studying harder and taking the test another time can supplement a poor score and show schools that you are persistent and really want to achieve.

Remember, there is never a dead-end, just a detour.  Don’t get frustrated and give up … there is hope!  Message me if you want more ideas!  Good luck … and remember … YOU CAN DO IT!

Strong recommendation letters are a must!

When applying for graduate school, scholarships, fellowships, or internships, it is important to have strong letters of recommendation because this is one of the methods that application reviewers get to know you.  Many times, you will not able to impress them in an interview as there just isn’t time to interview everyone; as such, the letter of recommendation should portray what you have done and what others think about you professionally.

In order to have a strong letter of recommendation, consider these ideas:1. find someone who has known you for a while because you want someone who can speak to the depth of your abilities; plus someone who has known you for a while is a more credible recommender than one who has only known you for a limited amount of time; 2. find someone who has some clout; as much as it is important to find someone who knows you well, reach out in your connections someone who has some clout in the community, either academic, professional, or otherwise; 3. find recommenders that provide variety in your application; if you have one academic recommendation, then find another one who can speak to your professional abilities, etc.

Being able to place your foot forward through your recommendations is key, and your recommendations can serve to be the one big push to get you accepted or awarded.  Good luck!