You’re in a deep panic, you just turned in a proposal or a portion of your thesis and the response from your advisor was a simple head shake and a paper full of red markings. You feel like crap, your legs are walking but your movements lack motivation. You think to yourself “Maybe I have enough money in my bank account to buy a one way ticket to some place where Sallie Mae can’t find me if I decided to begin my life a new as a monkey trainer.” You get in your car and begin to drive home, contemplating driving hours back to your hometown to begin your career as the guy who lives in his mom’s basement. You stop at a red light, you notice a man walking crossing a buy street with two McDonald’s bags in his hand and in his other he has managed to use all of his fingers to carry four Happy Meal boxes. Life can be hard, struggle is relative, but always remember you’re pursuing your dream and you haven’t touched the ground in a very long time.
…and by do it for the vine, I mean join at least one organization while you are a student at Indiana University.
One of my closest friends and mentors once shared a short book with me called 212° the extra degree. He is a highly successful businessman who is an IU alumnus, former Hoosier football player, and whose dad was also a Hoosier football player who went on to play for the 1972 Miami Dolphins team that went undefeated and won the Super Bowl. My teammates and I owe him for his continued guidance as we grow from teenagers into adults, and we are all grateful to have him in our lives.
The premise of 212° the extra degree, is that “at 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train.” Now this might sound like a gimmick, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate the meaning of this book and how applying its principles can help you advance in your studies, career, and life.
The book discusses how a difference of just 1 degree distinguishes hot water and steam, and goes on to give many examples of how the smallest of differences can have a large impact. One of my favorite examples is the average margin of victory in the Indianapolis 500 (we are at Indiana University after all) between 1997-2006 is 2.80 seconds, but the first place prize is $1,497,639 whereas the second place price is $587,321. That 2.80 second difference over 500 miles of racing makes a huge difference in the outcome for the drivers in terms of prestige and prize money. The book goes on to give examples of where and how you can teach the 212 philosophy and how small changes in your daily life can amount to big returns, such as eliminating 30 minutes of television every day to get 182.5 extra hours (or four and a half weeks of work) each year that you can devote to something else.
I would highly recommend this book, you can read it in about 15 minutes, but the message is powerful and can motivate you to take that tiny bit of extra time and effort to differentiate and distinguish yourself amongst your peers. So ask yourself, “what have I done today to get that extra degree?”
Once you get into graduate school and arrive on campus, you’ll probably take a little time to get settled into the town, your program, and your routine. After that though, what then? Well, fortunately there are number of great student organizations that you can choose to become a part of.
As a graduate student, you are automatically eligible to join the Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO), the official campus-wide student government body for graduate and professional students. There are also programs such as the Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity that work in a more focused manner to promote a more specific interest, such as diversity. Some of these organizations are specific to graduate students and gives you a chance to interact with people outside of your own department, which is always a great opportunity to broaden your horizons.
Each individual school and department is also likely to have its own student government organization, which is a great opportunity to get involved, get to know other students and faculty, and share your input on a variety of topics that are important to your experience while here at IU and for future students.
Beyond organizations such as these there are innumerable other clubs and organizations that encompass almost any interest. Many of these are open to both undergraduate and graduate students, so it’s a good opportunity to get to know more people beyond just graduate students.
When it comes down to it, getting involved is a great opportunity for you to balance your work and schooling with something that you’re passionate and interested in. You can also meet many great new people and develop personal and professional relationships that can last far beyond school. So go ahead and take a look to see what’s out there for you, who knows what doors will open when you get involved in a graduate student organization.
For those of us graduate students who aren’t in relationships, are on a budget, and looking for some tasty treats, the day after Valentine’s Day can be the best day of the year! Why you ask? Valentine’s Day candy is ON SALE! Yummy chocolates that were once $5 are now anywhere from $1 to $2. I am on a mission to make February 15th a new holiday called “Treat Yourself” (taken from my favorite show Parks and Recreation). Take time for the real “Reason for the Season” of love…love on yourself and buy yourself some discounted candy!
The first time you see the Herman B Wells Library at IU, you may think, “wow, that’s awesome!” or perhaps, “what a strange looking building!” Either way, you may or may not realize that you’re looking at a library that hosts an extraordinary Information Commons, multiple quiet and group study floors, and endless rows of stacks that contain tomes of knowledge that have been slowly accrued over the last several millenia. So I encourage you to venture in, grab a coffee, and learn about the endless resources that are available to you through the IU Libraries.
We are fortunate here at Indiana University to have a library system that includes agreements with other libraries to grant us students and the faculty access to almost any resource in the world. I have yet to find a book, journal, or article that is not accessible either online, in print, or through Inter-Library Loan. So, it’s pretty easy to access scholarly resources here at IU, which makes life as a graduate student MUCH easier. There are many satellite libraries here on campus housed within each academic department (for example, the Chemistry Library, Life Sciences Library, Law Library, etc.), so you don’t have to venture far to speak with a librarian to assist you with your studies. Moreover, the library even offers live chatting to help you facilitate your research if you get stuck and need to ask a question right away. A little known secret is that some of the satellite libraries even offer graduate assistantships to students that includes a fee remission, health insurance, and a stipend, just like a teaching or research student academic appointment would. So if you’re still searching for funding, the libraries might be a good place to look if you’re running out of options.
The bottom line is that the extensive resources and expertise that are available through the IU Libraries exist to facilitate the work of graduate students and faculty, which makes life much easier for us. So go ahead and stop in one of the libraries sometime and get to know your friendly neighborhood librarian, because they might just get you out of a bind when you’re burning the wick at both ends trying to finish up an important project.
The start of the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, has, and will, force me to better manage my time for the next couple of weeks. It is such a great time to invite people over to my apartment; I usually describe myself as someone more reserved with social outings, but it’s nice to cheer on teams and people in sports that we have never, or rarely, play with others. You can look on the 2014 Olympics as a political, sports, and social event – basically something for everyone.
Let’s face it – as graduate students, we are saddled with juggling the classes we’re taking, the research we’re conducting, the classes we’re teaching, and then all the other things we’re involved in (voluntarily of course, since we are choosing to be here!). Time is clearly a precious commodity in the life of a graduate student. So when your home School or Department hosts a seminar, lecture, or other event, the debate is always whether or not it’s worth your time to attend. Most students consider such things as:
1) Is the topic of direct interest to me or does it impact my area of study?
2) How long is the seminar/lecture?
3) Does it fit in my current schedule?
4) Who else will be there? Will I be expected to be in attendance?
and most importantly 5) IS THERE FREE FOOD?!?!?!?!?
It’s kind of like betting in a poker game…
With Winter in full swing, it’s just about time to start bemoaning the lack of having a significant other. Because I’m on that list, I’d rather curb this discussion to talk about relationships in a different light, particularly with one’s family, during the process of seeking a degree.
I am very close to my family. We have a strong bond centered around a love of
food each other, support, and trust. That being said, when it’s holiday time, or time to go visit home, it can get a bit tense, especially when trying to go home and instill upon your family all that enlightenment that has come from higher education.
My sister and I lovingly call out “Okay, Denise,” in reference to the lovable, yet severely out of tune Denise Huxtable from the Cosby Show,whenever we start going off on tangents about how society needs to change, and that our parents need to get with the program of all the new progressive things we have learned while away. It is difficult to remember sometimes that your family is not the same as your cohort, and they aren’t in your same social sphere. While it can feel like everyone around you is learning the same things you are, it is important to remember that graduate school exists in a bubble.
I had become…a Denise with a Master’s degree…