As a alumnus and current student of Indiana University, I represent the university and the schools that I am affiliated with everyday and every interaction I have with others. Indiana University is a world-renowned institution that attracts quality and diverse scholars to study and research.
This semester, I plan to attend and present at two scholarly conferences: the Indiana Student Affairs Association Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Education Law Association Annual Conference held in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I will be presenting about the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas – Austin when the Justices will hear oral arguments in October. Their decision in this case can change how universities and their admissions offices consider race and ethnicity as diversity in their admissions decisions, and thus, impact the make-up of our student body and the quality of our higher education.
While at these conferences, my interactions with fellow colleagues and prospective students will be to introduce them to Indiana University. IU is a place that embraces diverse research and viewpoints. As such, I am proud to be representing IU and continually recruit and introduce others to IU.
Recruiting at academic conferences isn’t akin to sales. I am not there to pitch a sales message, but I am there to build life-long relationships, friendships, and academic camaraderie. The name of the game isn’t competition, but collaboration.
Welcome to IU! I look forward to meeting you and showing you how IU can help you succeed in your academic career.
Things to do as soon as you start your PhD program
1) Set up a support system around you, both academic and non-academic. Meet with your cohort, go out to grad student events, meet with your professors, and start a good relationship with your advisor. Let your family and friends know that will you need their support too as you start this new phase of your life.
2) Manage your time wisely. Being a grad student involves juggling a lot of responsibilities! Start identifying what works and doesn’t work for you, and work around your strengths and weaknesses.
3) Continue/Start networking. It’s never too early to start. Ask your advisor what conferences are good to attend, set up meetings with faculty members that you share research interests with, mingle with the advanced students and post-docs (these are good people to look for mentorship too)
4) Start looking for and applying for grants/funding. The more you do it, the better you get at it, and the higher the probability of you getting something.
5) Start looking into what you can do to build up your CV. Applying for grants is a start, but you can also start planning conference presentations and joining professional organizations.
6) Get into good writing habits. Our job as PhD students is to learn how to conduct good research, AND to be able to communicate it (after all, what good is research if nobody knows about it). Writing takes a good chunk of our time, but there is no good system in place within the PhD student process to make people good, habitual writers. Join a writing group, ask advanced students to talk to you about the writing process, and start a daily writing habit. This will really help you out in the long run!
In computer science, summer academic work usually narrows down to two avenues. On one side, grad students can go on to an industry (or research lab) internship where they can gain professional experience, as well as earn some extra money for the upcoming semesters. On the other side, grad students can spend the summer working on their research project(s) without any other academic or teaching responsibilities. Throughout my grad student career, I have experienced both and found each one to be uniquely rewarding. Previously, as a master student, I did a research-oriented internship where I had the opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary and industry-related research project. It was a great experience and I gained several skills which I would not have received any other way. Additionally, I was paid a decent amount of money, thus, I got some financial flexibility for the upcoming semester.
Nowadays, as a PhD student, I rather spend my summer working on my research projects than doing anything else. This strategy has proven to be quite beneficial as I am able to make substantial progress on my projects while still having some time to enjoy the summer.
Most of my colleagues have talked about the most common source of funding for graduate students: research and teaching assistantship. However, I am going to take a different route and share some tips that helped get a highly competitive external fellowship.
Tip #1: Find someone that received a competitive fellowship and ask them if they will be open to share their materials with you. To be honest, most people will say no, but all you just need if for one person to agree. Once I got a successful application, it was not difficult to identify what I was missing.
Tip #2: Identify one of more faculty members that specialize in the area you are interested, and ask them if they will be willing to give feedback on your proposal. In my case, I approached a potential adviser and his comments played a fundamental role in improving the quality of my proposed research plan.
Tip #3: Apply to at least one fellowship that provides feedback to all applicants. Therefore, even if you get rejected, you will receive feedback on your application.
Tip #4: Keep applying until you are no longer eligible. If you applied Tip #3 you will get a sense on which fellowships to re-apply and those that you should not bother. Do not get discouraged!
Here is a link to some external awards: http://www.indiana.edu/~grdschl/external-awards.php
Last week, I attended a workshop for graduated students entitled “Statements of Teaching Philosophy: Critical Reflection About Teaching Practice” sponsored by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL). The workshop was outstanding; for instance, we received strategies for reflecting on teaching as well as information about the qualities of effective statements of teaching philosophy. Moreover, we analyzed several statements and received reflection guides for getting started.
CITL mission is “to provide leadership and expertise that support efforts to innovate in the curricula, to implement effective pedagogies in and beyond the classroom, and to enhance student learning and engagement”. I encourage all graduate students interested in academia, or teaching and student leaning to check the center out.
For more details about Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning visit: http://citl.indiana.edu
Many, if not all, Ph.D. programs offered at IU has two refreshing requirements: doctoral minor and “Pedagogy and Professionalism” course. To be honest, I find each requirement quite useful, rewarding and unique, specially if your degree is on an highly interdisciplinary field.
For instance, I am a Computer Science PhD student, and my Bioinformatics minor enables me to gain additional expertise on a relevant area to my research interests. Complementary to the doctoral minor, we have the Pedagogy and Professionalism course requirement which provides doctoral students with an overview of teaching philosophies, teaching portfolios and other teaching resources. This is a great opportunity to get formal training in college-level teaching. Therefore, the doctoral minor and pedagogy and professionalism course requirements give an edge to our graduates which might prove to be the difference in the current job market.
This winter break, I only took a week-off to go home, visit my family and friends, and eat all those delicious home-cooked meals! Anyway, a new year has arrived and here is my list of academic and personal goals for 2012: 1) improve my scientific writing skills, 2) select my dissertation committee, 3) publish at least two papers, 4) learn a new language, 5) incorporate a workout into my daily schedule, and 6) present my dissertation proposal . Some of these goals are more ambitious than others; however, I consider them to be quite simple. The key thing is to celebrate every step because those little victories are the ones that give you the strength to keep moving forward and closer to your ultimate goal.
Finals week is definitely when students are particularly stressed out. As a grad student, we often have final papers or projects to complete for our courses — and I don’t mean the short little “research papers” we had to write in undergrad, either. I mean papers that often take weeks, not hours, to compose and require comprehensive synthesis of major ideas within our field of study. In addition to completing our own coursework, we often have finals to proctor, and then grade, for the courses we teach. This adds up to a really hectic and often very overwhelming week.
Luckily, once it’s all said and done, we have a few weeks to rest, relax, and spend time with family over the holidays. This doesn’t mean there is no work, just less of it. Many of us will be studying for comprehensive exams, writing dissertation proposals, preparing for dissertation defense, etc.
In the last few years, winter break has been a time of rest and relaxation with my family. But this time I will continue to write my dissertation and prepare for job interviews in January. No rest for the weary.
On the bright side, I hope to complete my dissertation this spring and defend in May. I can see the light, but to reach it I have to keep working.
Hey friends! Can you believe it’s November already? I can’t. I realized today that we are more than half way through the semester, which means that these next few weeks are going to be chocked full of reading, writing and CAFFEINE. But before they get too crazy… let me break you off with the… FREE TIPS OF THE DAY! (That’s right people I said tipS… plural… you’re welcome). Today’s tips are about everyone’s favorite thing… Recommendation letters.
1. Follow instructions: If the school you are applying to asks for a letter of recommendation from a faculty member then be sure to provide a letter from a faculty member. I used to be an admissions counselor and nothing made me angrier than when students tried to go “above and beyond” – providing 70 rec letters when we only asked for three. Generally I would throw away 67 and keep only three. The idea is to do only what is asked and do it well. Coincidentally this brings me to my second tip.
2. Quality NOT quantity: Recommendation letters give programs the opportunity to how others in your sphere of influence perceive you. Choose people that know you AND can articulate your strengths well.
3. Give your recommender three weeks and a resume: Typically three weeks is plenty of time to write the recommendation. The resume helps emphasize your strong suits as an applicant. It also shows thoughtfulness and fore planning on your part.
4. Give the recommender an early deadline: We know that people are busy and sometimes things slip their mind. So I would encourage you to give your recommender a deadline that falls at least a week or two before the application information is due. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Finally…
5. Send thank you notes: People love to be recognized for the selfless work they do. So be classy and send a note.
Well folks that’s all the tips I got for today. Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know think or if you have any suggestions of your own to add to my wonderful list. Have a great week!
How important is choosing an advisor? “In 2009, the US Council of Graduate Schools in Washington DC reported survey results showing that 65% of the 1,856 doctoral students who responded identified mentoring or advising as a main factor in PhD completion”, refer to Kearns and Gardiner for further details (link below). Viridiana stated on her post, “Choosing an advisor is like choosing a partner” and I strongly agree with her. In my case, I first identified several potential advisors that shared my research interests. Next, I talked to some current grad students in order to get some feedback. Then, I took a course or independent study with each one of them such that we could get to know each other in an academic setting. Finally, once I narrowed the candidates list to a few, I scheduled one-to-one meetings in order to make my goals and adviser expectations known, as well as get to know their plans and advisee expectations. For instance, I expected my advisor to 1) get the equipment/resources I need, 2) meet with me, face-to-face, at least four times a month to talk about my project/thesis. (Ideally, they would be regularly scheduled meetings but that rarely happens), and 3) provide the type of feedback that I need. In summary, as expressed by Kearns and Gardiner, “If you’re not getting feedback, clear direction or the necessary resources, then you must do something about it.”
I strongly recommend readers to check out Hugh Kearns and Maria Gardiner column: “The care and maintenance of your advisor”. Here is the link: