Collaborating across disciplines … be helpful without discrimination!

Always reach out with open arms! It is important in academia that you do not get stuck within your bubble.  The world does not work that way, so why should we?  Interdisciplinary studies and research is critical now more than ever as our world becomes more globalized and disciplines overlap to help solve society’s challenges.

As an academic, your success will be determined on how well you can be creative and innovative with your resources as higher education funding becomes more difficult to come by.  As a result, more collaboration and cooperation across departments and disciplines will not only enhance your own overall knowledge of your subject area but also show your ability work with others.

Here’s an example: my research concentration is in higher education policy, specifically in governance, funding, ethics, and diversity.  Although I am an education policy studies student, I collaborate with higher education and student affairs (HESA), informatics, and public health masters and doctorate students.  This kind of collaboration allows me to learn about other areas of academic interest that touches my area of research.

I encourage you to begin working outside of the box and collaborate with others.  Not only will it be helpful in your academic career but also your professional work.  It’s always good to be open, helpful, and embracing of others!

And now your waiting? What to do next?

Now that you have sent in your application, you must be wondering what you should do next.  Double check with your school if you need to submit separate applications for fellowships and scholarships.  You will want to investigate these opportunities.  It’s a good idea to talk to faculty of your department to see what departmental opportunities there are to apply for.  Fellowships will provide opportunities for you not only to seek funding but also experience.  What is important about fellowships is that they allow you to be secure regarding funding and during your first year as a graduate student, you can explore other options if your fellowship is only awarded for one year.  If fellowships are not an option, begin looking for other financial assistance either through campus employment or working in the community if you are in need of funding while studying. Many schools and departments have research centers that may be looking for help.  Make sure to be exhaustive in your search.

If you have missed the deadline to apply for fellowships, create a folder and collect information for the next year.  Being prepared will help you keep a foot out front and have all necessary documents, recommendations, and information ready to submit at a moment’s notice.  If you are needing recommendations, do not procrastinate.  Professors will write you a better recommendation if they have time to prepare and not have to use a “canned” letter.

Stay tuned to next month about filing for a FAFSA.