I think the best analogy of finding the correct graduate school or program is; think about picking out a pair of pants that you have to wear for the next 4-6 years. I say this because you want your program to fit you perfectly. You have to consider the academic standpoints that are important to you but you also weigh that against the environment that the campus is in as well as the character of the department. Now that you have to consider so many different factors you will appreciate the tier system of school applications. In my personal opinion a good number of schools to apply to is 6. 2 top schools: these are the dream schools, where if you got into them you would take off work for the rest of the day. 2 middle schools: these are schools that if you get into them you are happy about it, you cleared the hurdle and you are happy with how the next phase of your life will go. 2 safety net schools: now these schools are often misinterpreted as “bad” schools. Let me get this clear never apply to a school that you would not want to go to. Safety net schools are good schools that have probably sacrificed one of the lower list of requirements but still maintains the academic standards that you have set for your graduate education. So if location is somewhat important for you but not a deal breaker then your safety net schools will be academically sound but be in places that you wouldn’t have picked to live first choice but still wouldn’t hate to be. Last but not least it is very important when you are placing your choices into the tiers that you are realistic. There is nothing worse then putting two top schools in your middle category and not getting into any of your top choices. Now you are left with your safety nets and probably not happy about it. So be self aware and break things into categories and best of luck.
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
- Idealist.org, 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.
It may seem like a big world out there; besides your colleagues that you see and work with everyday in your academic department, your academic family can extend to others in your discipline. Whether you see or interact with each other daily or even weekly, because of technology, the world is a much smaller place than you think.
It is important to meet and get to know others in your academic department. The wealth of knowledge from your colleagues will help you explore areas that you may not have thought of or even known. More importantly, this allows for collaborative efforts in teaching and research. In addition, others in your department can help you network and navigate the larger world in your discipline.
I have had a benefit of professors at the IU School of Education to encourage me to collaborate with them on research and attend academic conferences with them. This opportunity not only strengthens my academic portfolio for later employment, but it helps me make connections with other colleagues. By being involved, the large and scary realm of academia becomes much smaller, manageable, and personable. It all becomes your family!
Every person has something unique about them. If you spend time to really get to know them and understand their life experiences, you will be amazed of what you can learn. Reach out to your colleagues now; either those you work with everyday or those you see once in a while, you will be surprised of how much you can learn from each other.
Many graduate students enter graduate school with some experience in writing resumes for previous jobs or even to fulfill requirements in the graduate student application process. Regardless of prior experiences, most face the realization that they must immediately strengthen their current resume and/or upgrade to a curriculum vitae in preparation for grant and scholarship applications during the first year. Having a well-updated curriculum vitae is one of many essential components of academic life, and as a graduate student, could mean the difference between earning that sought-after research fellowship or yet another trip back to the drawing boards.
The expression curriculum vitae originate from the Latin expression curriculum vitæ which loosely translate as “course of life,” or more fluidly, “the course of my life.” A curriculum vitae, or as known colloquially as a CV, is meant to provide a complete overview of a person’s experiences and qualifications rather than an abridged overview of experiences as provided by a resume. A commonly accepted rule of thumb is that resumes are typically limited one sheet of paper (front and back) whereas curricula vitae will require several pages of information to fully articulate one’s accomplishments and experiences. Well-constructed curricula vitae will often minimally include: a cover statement or statement of research interest, educational background, publications, conference proceedings, research experiences, specialized training, teaching experience, service, and awards and honors. In addition, a curriculum vitae may also include sections on invited talks, publications in preparation, relevant work experience, and personal information that you feel will add to the organization or group that you are interested in working with. However, each field has slightly different expectations of content, formatting, and language, so be sure to consult with colleagues, professors, and mentors when constructing and refining your curriculum vitae.
Remember that one’s curriculum vitae is a dynamical piece of work that will need to change to reflect the purpose of its implementation. For example, when applying for a research position or a position in which research is emphasized, it is important to highlight your research experiences and publications right away on the first page. This seems obvious, but it is of the utmost importance that the reader understands how prolific of a scholar you are and on the way to becoming. Whereas applying to a position in which teaching is emphasized requires your teaching experiences to be placed at the beginning. Imagine an impatient reviewer making his or her rounds reviewing potential applicants. You would like to catch their attention immediately upon picking up your curriculum vitae instead of having them flip through many pages to get the essential information that may be critical to your success.
Your curriculum vitae is meant to be a detailed account of all your education, training, and experiences along the way as well as any recognition that you have earned to reflect the effectiveness of your training. Do elaborate fully on your experiences. When listing previous positions held also include a small description of duties carried forth and tools that you have used to accomplished your work. For example, a young astrophysicist whose work included reduction and analysis of spectral data would give a brief description on how the programming languages IDL and C++ were used to complete his or her task. This will not only give the reviewer an idea of your competency in a particular discipline but the tools that you have learned that may also be applicable in future work.
Tasteful verbosity is quite the gift to have in writing a curriculum vitae. Have close colleagues and friends critique your curriculum vitae often to ensure its fluidity. Know your audience and tailor the information that goes on your curriculum vitae to be in parallel with the reviewers’ objectives. Of course this goes without saying, but in light of recent cases of fallen CEOs due to falsification of information on their curriculum vitae, DO NOT attempt to embellish the information on your curriculum vitae as it may hurt you in the long run. Have fun and good luck. Feel free to message me if you have questions.
A large research higher education institution as IU can be daunting as there are so many options. Everyone has a specific specialty and academic niche. There are a myriad of academic disciplines that students can choose from, and there are hundreds of academic research centers to wade your interests through. Although it can be overwhelming to some, it is a paradise to others who enjoy collaborating across disciplines.
I am studying higher education policy at IU; however, I am also a trained secondary education teacher and a lawyer. From my old days as a lawyer, I still currently serve as Director of Disaster Legal Services, which is a partnership program between the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). DLS provides pro bono legal services to disaster survivors after a natural disaster strikes the United States.
After meeting Mike H., a fellow IU Emissary for Graduate Student Diversity, we talked about the things we were involved in. Mike mentioned that he used to work for FEMA and was intrigued with my work through the ABA and FEMA. After several discussions, we figured that we could collaborate with each other to find better ways our services could be delivered to disaster survivors.
Mike H., is studying for his master degree in Human-Computer Interface Design at the IU School of Informatics and Computing. Through my work and connections with FEMA, I was able to invite Mike out to Washington D.C. for our quarterly meeting with FEMA and his capstone project to design a mobile application to better deliver disaster legal services was approved.
This government/non-profit – academic partnership is possible because of the collaborative nature at IU. Because of the varied disciplines and opportunities, Mike H.’s past experience with FEMA and his interest to build this mobile app for us as his capstone project will allow us to better serve disaster survivors.
Come and find out more about IU’s collaborative nature among students, faculty, and the community!
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