Living within your means

Picture taking from Google images

This post hits home for me (*gets on soap box*). In America we have a major problem with the Joneses. They (the Joneses) buy something, and then something within our nature compels us to try and keep up with them. Even though as a family their net income is five times our gross income. That doesn’t matter, if we don’t keep up with them we feel less than, unimportant, or incomplete. It is truly a sad state of affairs, when our self worth is attached to what we own or what we can (or cannot purchase). But do not despair, there is hope! (*steps off soap box*)

As a grad student you can live within your means provided you plan ahead. The easiest thing to do is to create a budget. This is fairly easy to do. I would recommend using The software enables you to track your spending and analyze your purchasing habits. But making a budget is not enough, you must follow it.

In addition to using mint, I also keep a simple ledger where I personally track my spending each month. I use an excel spreadsheet to balance my checkbook. It’s not perfect but it helps me stay within my means. And believe it or not because I have balanced my budget in grad school, I have not had to take out any loans. I will graduate with my PhD without borrowing any money. You can do it too. All you have to do is plan.

The FTOD is make a budget and follow it. Simple to say but hard to do, but worth it in the end. Be well friends!

Black History Month Highlights

I love Black History Month! It is a great time of the year to reflect on the achievements and contributions of African Americans to American society. I will refrain of getting on my soap box, but I’d encourage you to reflect on the achievements of African Americans during February but year round. I’m just sayin’. Anyway here are some pictures from BGSA’s event the State of Black History at IU. Enjoy!

To visit or not to visit…

That is the question. Whether it is nobler in the minds of young prospective graduate students to remain at home or travel across the country to visit the schools of their choice. (Forgive my butchering of Shakespeare) The question of whether or not to visit is a pertinent one. I will share my story and as always FTOD (free tip of the day if you’re new to my blog).

My story is a simple one. I got accepted to two institutions, and in the spring I packed my bags to visit the institutions in person. It costed me a pretty penny, but the trip was worth it. Stepping on campus and talking to people in the program face to face was worth it for me. Both schools I was considering were located in fairly rural town. One was more rural than the other, and being their made all the difference in the world to me. I’m a big proponent of trusting your intuition. And when you step on campus, you can get a good sense of if this is where you belong.

My FTOD is contact the undergraduate admissions department generally they do a fantastic job of giving tours of campus and they give you a great sense of what the campus culture is like. It’s a nice contrast to the tours most departments and graduate students give you. Oh and usually undergrad admissions offices will give you institutional swag.

Be well friends!

Future Faculty Conference

This past week I attended a future faculty conference at Virginia Tech. It was lots of fun. I got to meet other grad students and post docs from around the nation. I figured I share the pictures with you all. Check it out! If you are able to participate in future faculty programs I’d strongly encourage it, IU has one in the spring click here for more info.

What to do while you wait

Hey friends… the new year is off and running. And I have some advice for you. By now  you should’ve submitted your application to graduate school (hopefully Indiana University made the cut), now you have all of this free time. You’re probably asking yourself “Self… what am I going to do with all of this free time?” Well that is a good question to ask yourself. I probably wouldn’t do it out loud in public. That is a good way to make people think you’re a little crazy.

The FTOD for you folks in admissions limbo is to stay busy, and stay in contact with the institutions you are interested. Next month we will talk about college visits so I won’t go into detail here. But one simple thing you can do is begin planning visits to your top choices. Something else you can do is continue to research the institution, and the surrounding town. Visit the city’s visitor bureau website, generally  these websites can give you an idea of what city life is about. Finally I’d recommend that you keep talking to people at the institution you learn so much just by asking the same question to a lot of people (i.e. what is this institution like, etc). So go forth and be busy.

Winter Break

So… for the first time in a long time. I actually enjoyed a white Christmas in my home state of Texas. We had a full two inches of snow! For my friends from the midwest and northern states. A white Christmas is nothing to write home about, but for this Texan (whose normal Christmas attire is traditionally shorts and a t-shirt) two inches of snow is extraordinary. So what follows are a couple photo’s from my snow day. Enjoy!

PS – FTOD do your part to fight against climate change, because while snow in Texas is cool. It’s indicative of climate change. Let’s take care of our planet. Peace & Love – J.T.

leónes y tiGREs y osos [dios mio!] or how I survived the GRE

GREs are serious business!
*Photo taken by me

What’s up blogheads I’m back! With some important information about grad school life. The topic this time is grades, gre, and funds [oh my!]. Christmas* is right around the corner and I have an early Christmas present for you. That right it’s the FTOD. Todays free tip is take advantage of test prep offered at your institution. Visit your campus’s Career Services. Often times they have partnerships with testing vendors.

My first year of grad school one of my colleagues informed me that they received free test prep from Kaplan just by going to a session hosted by Career Services. While I don’t believe in test prep as an industry. They do work. The main reason is they help test takers create a strategy to take the test. If you can’t afford test prep. Visit your local library, most will have previous versions of both the GRE and GMAT. You can also go to Barnes and Noble or another bookstore and by a test prep book. Remember practice makes perfect! So practice, practice.

GRE score and grades can largely determine what funding you qualify for. SO do well on your GRE and college grades that will go along way in increasing the number of opportunities that are available to you. Good luck.

PS – I love the Lion King… en Español! Check out the trailer por El Rey León!


CV vs Resume: Let’s get ready to rumble!

When it comes to resumes go big or go home!
*Photo taken by Steven L

Hello my faithful bloggers or random perspective student who just happened upon my page 😉 [ Sidenote – I know the smileys may be played out but I love them!!!] Ok today the FTOD is coming at you hard and fast. My associates and I are discussing CVs and Resumes.

To be honest… two years ago before I started this PhD program at IU, I couldn’t have told you the difference between the two or why they are important. But now being a veteran grad student I can layout a couple of the major differences so here goes.

First with CVs. In general CVs are prepared for academic or research jobs. They are complete index that highlights all of your academic achievements. They can be as short as 5 pages, or as many as 35 depending on the productivity of the scholar or researcher. Currently my CV is 5 pages, but I’m working on it. For CVs in general, the longer the better.

Finally Resumes… unlike CVs resumes are geared toward administrative and business professional positions. Unlike CVs they are short, usually 1 or 2 pages, and they emphasize professional experience.

I will end with my FTOD. Which is make use of your institutions Career Services. They are paid to help you with making CVs and Resumes. Take advantage of it. Until next time.



This past week I spent the week in Las Vegas for the annual conference for the Association  for the Study of Higher Education or ASHE. I had the honor and privilege to present to a room full of my colleagues, got great feedback, and had a ton of fun. Here are some photos from my time in Las VegASHE! Enjoy.


Me performing my civic duty
*Photo taken by random lady at the polling precinct

Hey friends election time is right around the corner, and today I performed my civic duty. I voted for the next president of the United States. This is the first time I have not voted in Texas. It was a different experience. In Texas I always voted on a machine. Apparently in Indiana early voting (which I did) is the equivalent of absentee voting. You fill out a paper ballot, and they send it to your polling precinct. Pretty cool. For me it was the first time I filled out a paper ballot. Check me out!

PS – My FOTD is VOTE OR DIE [Thanks Diddy].