Campus visits are important because…

Photo taken from:

Photo taken from:

1)   You feel it; yes there is a feel to a campus that you will only get from walking around, tasting the local food, and seeing and visualizing your new living space

2)   Your questions will be answered; On your visit you can talk to grad students, faculty and administrators.

Photo taken from

Photo taken from








3)   It will be home; And that home needs to be conducive to learning, working, and playing.

IU Campus View Apartments Taken from

IU Campus View Apartments
Taken from

However, if for whatever reason you still can’t make the campus visit there is always an alternative. Check out Campus Tours, where you can take thousands of virtual campus tours. 

Happy touring!

Living within the means of your new life as a grad

Yikes!! Reality can be painful but completely doable.  If you’ve been out in the workforce this return to school will require adjustment to your usual spending habits.

Here are some ideas on reducing costs:

-Housing: Do share the cost and get some roommates.  The Indiana Daily Student (IDS) has its very own housing guide to get you started.  To furnish your place check out Freecycle Network, a website dedicated to saving good furniture and household items from being thrown away and keeping you furnished for free.

-Food: Do cook; and if you don’t know how check out these blogs

Clearly Delicious        The Graduate Student Food Blog            Frugal Cooking

-Entertaining: Do get creative and check out all the free events on campus, there is always something going on.

Happenings Calendar                    Bloomington: Things to Do

-Car: On a campus like IU, you don’t need a car.  You have the campus bus which takes you to major shopping areas, the city bus which  has various campus routes and connects you to the rest of Bloomington. If you need a car you can always rent one from zip car, or get on one of the various shuttles to get to the Indianapolis airport.

Depending on what your income looks like now, the sacrifices may seem many but remember this is temporary and from my perspective well worth it!



Finding a Mentor


Clip art taken from

Clip art taken from

I’ve always envisioned a mentor as someone I would meet with on a regular basis; discuss what was going on in my academic and personal life. They would offer me their experience, serve as a sounding board and help me accomplish my goals. Sound a little too perfect? Maybe…maybe not. My experience has been that one person cannot always accomplish all of the above.

Finding the right mentor(s) can be an amazing asset as you navigate the complex world of graduate school; but what exactly should a mentor do for you, and how and where do you get one? While the following advice is not extensive, it will hopefully get you thinking about how to proceed.
First, what is a mentor? A mentor is someone who will be available to work with you to develop your potential, inspire and challenge you. Because you will need different people for different things, a mentor is not always a one-size-fits all. Finding multiple mentors for the various parts of your career or personal life is important; the key is asking yourself:

  • What can I learn from this person?
  • How can they help me maximize on my graduate school experience?
  • Does their mentoring style fit me?
  • Where to find one?

Mentors can be found in faculty, staff, and other graduate students. Again, the fit will depend on your interest and goals in maximizing your graduate school experience. Be aware of the different mentoring styles, and that some mentors will want to keep their communication strictly professional and not personal.

In short, create a network of mentors that fit your needs and goals, along with clear and realistic expectations.
For more on mentorship, check out the following presentation from Dr. Patrick Dickerson, “How to get the Mentoring You Need?” PLD GLASS 2013 Mentoring

Graduate Student Emissaries at Work

Along with blogging, giving student tours and being successful Graduate Students the Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity also give presentations. Three emissaries gave a presentation on “graduate school preparedness” at the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program LEAD Conference on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Bloomington Convention Center.

Carl D., Zelideh M-H., and Alfonse P presented two workshops on “Graduate School Preparedness” at the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program LEAD Conference on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Bloomington Convention Center.

~ Photo taken by David N.

Winter Break: To leave or not to leave

This year I chose to not do any international or cross-country travel. Instead I took short trips with my family to Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Chicago.

Our first day trip was to experience Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo. Where we enjoyed the holiday lights event, partook in kids activities and caught a glimpse of some of the animals.

Next was our visit to the Fort.  Fort Wayne is the second largest city in the state after Indianapolis, and has many attractions. The activities range from shows at the historic Embassy Theatre to an outdoor stroll through downtown and Headwaters Park. While visiting family there we went ice skating at the Headwaters outdoor rink, and later got some hot chocolate at DeBrand–a local chocolate shop.

From there we headed three hours west to the windy city. While in Chicago we visited the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and did some last minute holiday shopping at the Woodfield Mall.  The next morning we had brunch at Restaurante Aguascalientes at La Villita ( Little Village).   La Villita is densely packed with Mexican businesses and what I consider the closest thing to being in Mexico as I can get in the Midwest. 😉

While we didn’t go very far, the quality time spent visiting friends and family at these locations definitely took me out of the everyday routine. 

Next on the list…outdoor winter activities in the area.

Finalizing the application

If you are planning on matriculating as a graduate student next fall, you’ve done your research, prepared application materials and close to hitting the submit button.    The following are some final checklist reminders:

  1. Finalize Personal Statement; make sure it has been reviewed by various people (career counselor, faculty member, etc.).
  2. Complete Applications. Make sure all sections have been completed and that you’ve followed directions; if they asked for two letter of recommendation, don’t send more.
  3. Submit request for official transcripts.  Most institutions require 10 business days or about 2 weeks to send official transcripts. So make sure you process your transcript before the admissions deadline.
  4. Check and recheck that you have all required components.
  5. Continue to research financial aid opportunities (assistantships on campus, scholarships, fellowships, etc.)
  6. Stay positive.

-Bonne Chance!


One of my few addictions indulgences in life is coffee.  I don’t drink it for the caffeine but for the taste and the memory that I have with coffee.  As a little girl I would visit my grandmother in the afternoons, where I would find her in her ritual of getting her chimney fired up for her evening coffee. While my café con leche was more like a leche with a drop of cafe I felt so grown up.

Today, while the ritual is not so enchanting, I do wake up looking forward to the scent of freshly brewed coffee and the aftertaste that will linger on my palate.  Luckily for me, Bloomington has a variety of places I can go and indulge in coffee and a little more…

Soma:  Just recently won Bloomington’s Best coffee award.  The atmosphere is cozy-eclectic with a Bloomington character.

Blue Boy Chocolatier:  The place is rather small, but perfect for a lazy afternoon of people watching.  They are also well known for their decadent cupcakes, chocolates and other gourmet sweets.  My personal favorite, the dulce de leche cupcake.

 Runcible Spoon: The spoon was first opened in 1976 and is known for roasting their own beans. Here you can’t wrong with a café mocha to go with your breakfast (check out their menu).

So whether you are a coffee addict or the occasional latte drinker, there are plenty of places to get your buzz going in Btown. The ones mentioned above are just a few of my favorites.

Graduate School Prepping: It’s all about the timing

There are many resources out there about when to begin studying for exams to when to begin narrowing down your options. I’m concentrating on resources that give you a timeline based on your current situation/status.

  •  If you are in undergrad checkout sites that break down the checklist by semesters (i.e. what you should be doing during undergrad), like the one below

  •  Specific for international students—Happy Schools Blog has a 15 item checklist along with other tips and resources

  •, Princeton Review & Dr. Ron Martin via U.S. News has a timeline that highlights what you should be doing during the next 12 months.

And finally, because not everyone thinking about grad school is an undergrad, single, and/or working part-time …Expand the timeline! While the timelines above include the major details and important months for most programs, you should customize the timeline to fit YOU with your own individual schedule. This may come in the form of an excel sheet or a calendar on the wall that spreads over 12 + months.

Good luck!