Plan B…Plan C….Plan Z?

Grad school is all about being able to bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Whether it’s a class assignment that didn’t turn out the way you expected, a manuscript that gets rejected, rejected again, and still rejected once more, or data that just do not want to cooperate with your hypotheses, adaptability is one of the most important skills to have as a graduate student. Ironically, most graduate students tend to be a little neurotic (after all, chances are that to get this far academically you have to care, ya know, a little bit). So, how did I, neurotic grad student Evelyn develop the adaptability skill? Glad you asked. Here are a few tips:

1) Focus on what IS working for you. Make a list of your tasks for the week, and cross them off as you go along. That way, even if you hit a road block, you’ll be able to objectively see what you have accomplished. Hopefully that will give you the “oomph” you need to push that road block out of your way.

2) Play an upbeat song. My go-to is “Roar” by Katy Perry (I’m *almost* not ashamed to admit that). Whether it’s something cheesy or super serious, find music that speaks to you and put it on repeat until you’ve found a new solution.

3) Think outside the box. If you’re banging your head against a wall with no luck, try banging your head against a different surface–maybe you’ll get different results! But, in all seriousness, sometimes a little change in perspective will help you discover your Plan B. For example, if it’s data that’s not working, what’s a new way you can think of your hypotheses? Try sharing your thought process with a friend outside your field. They may see something that you have taken for granted differently.

No matter what you do, don’t give up! Even if it feels like you’ve gotten all the way to Plan Z and still don’t know what to do, pat yourself on the back for your resilience, and keep pushing. Maybe plan AA will be the one that works :)

Graduate & Professional Student Organization

Are you interested in student government? Do you love the idea of making a difference, or at least being around other people who try their hardest to do so? Great! The Graduate & Professional Student Organization (GPSO) may be for you! This organization is the governing body of IU grad students, and the various committees and officers serve as our voice to the administration and campus at large. Each department gets one representative (or more, if it’s a big department) and that person votes on behalf of their student constituents. That person also serves on one of many committees (the Diversity committee, Sustainability, Programming, etc.), and those committees work to pass resolutions which help let the administration know the issues that graduate students are thinking about. Check out the website for more information!

Please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me

from blog.k12.com

from blog.k12.com

At the beginning of every semester in the social psych area, we set up the schedule for our area colloquium. Once we cover who all the outside speakers are, and when they’ll be coming, there’s the critical moment where the faculty member in charge says, “which graduate students would like to present?” There’s always the awkward moment (or few moments) of looking around, avoiding everyone’s glances, and then eventually enough people sign up. What’s funny is that this same scene plays out every semester! It’s nerve-wracking to get up in front of all the faculty and graduate students in the area and talk about your own research for an hour (or longer…), but it’s a great opportunity to practice presentation style and skills, as well as the best way to communicate the novelty and excitement of your own research to others.

So, if you have a chance to present at anything, a conference poster session, an IU research symposium, or your departmental colloquium, rip off the Band-Aid (so to speak) and volunteer yourself. You may be nervous, but if you prepare for it ahead of time, you’ll be just fine!

With a little help from my friends

Graduate school is an incredible experience that will test your limits, be they intellectual, emotional, health-oriented, or anything else. My friends and my family are my number one support system in graduate school, and I lean on them like crazy.

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wonder_Years

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wonder_Years

One of the most important things that I’ve learned is that it’s important to be honest. Especially in the first year of a program, there will be the people who are trying to put on airs to seem like they work the hardest (most common phrase, “I got no sleep last night”) or that they are the smartest (most common phrase, “I read < article > where < big name in the field > referenced < theory > that said ___”) and if you get bogged down in trying to play that game, you will end up feeling inadequate. Not to mention, those people are probably definitely exaggerating.

The problem with putting up a façade is that you cut yourself off from receiving the support that you actually need. So, instead of saying “I got no sleep last night,” talk to your cohort mate or a more senior student about how you’ve been spending your time, and ask for advice on how to make sure you’re focusing on the right things. Support systems can’t work if you are not honest and open about the kind of support you need. Nurture those relationships, and you will have a much more fun, if not enjoyable, time in graduate school!

O-H!…

Columbus, OH has a lot in common with Bloomington. For one, both cities are more than a little supportive of their Big 10 teams.

farrissports05

alex-farris.com

201311211133416049048

sports.yahoo.com

 

Also, both cities house top public research institutions, and the benefits from this connection are endless. But, chances are, if you’re considering IU, you already know all the wonders of the university. So I’ll focus this post on the other similarities between Columbus–a mid-sized city (often compared to Indianapolis)–and Bloomington, a small town in Indiana. Continue reading

It’s the FINAL COUNTDOWN

wikipedia.org

wikipedia.org

The stretch of time between Thanksgiving break and the end of the semester is always rough for me. Thanksgiving break is a glorious week of being at home, spending time with my family, relaxed work hours, and eating, of course. Then, it’s back to Bloomington for three more weeks of real work before another break. How do you keep your head in work mode when all the signs say it’s time to relax?

For me, the time after Thanksgiving means I am well within my rights to play Christmas carols and decorate my apartment. I hang lights, stockings for my dog and me, and drink a lot of hot chocolate. I also take advantage of the cold weather and light my fireplace. It helps to come home to a warm and cozy apartment after a long day of working. Watching holiday-themed movies like Love Actually also help create a festive mood. Another thing that helps is listening to Pandora holiday stations while I’m working. Since I spend most of my days working on my computer anyway, jamming out to holiday music helps break up the monotony. Sometimes I get so into it that it’s hard to keep from singing out loud–but I don’t want to disturb my labmates!

What are some of your end-of-the-semester tricks? Whatever they may be, remember, we’re in the home stretch. It’s the fi-nal count-down!

Technology @ IU

from homepages.indiana.edu

from homepages.indiana.edu

There’s a running joke that graduate students only know where two buildings on campus are: the building where their classes are held, and the library. Bonus points for other amenities like student union, health center, and gym. As a graduate student at IU, you should add one more to your list: the University Information Technology Services (UITS) building. Continue reading