You are not alone…

Sometimes, writing a dissertation can be exhilarating.  There is nothing like that day that you check something major over the ToDo list.  On other days, however, it can be lonely and/or boring.  On those days, it really helps to reach out to others who have been where you are.  Here are links to a few of those blogs:

I hope they help you remember that you are not alone.

Piecing Together the Puzzle

Finding time for your research around your class, teaching, and work schedules may seem daunting by itself – but what about fitting your schooling and research into your long term plan, applying for jobs, figuring out a place to live, and finally starting your career?  It can all be overwhelming – but like a puzzle, once you find the corners, build the edges, and sort the pieces, everything starts to fall into place and the middle begins to fill in.

IMG_1911

Sometimes getting through school, job applications, moving, etc. can feel like one big puzzle. Photo by Ren-Jay S.

So don’t despair – there is hope!  No matter how despondent you may feel at times, hold the line and keep plugging along, because you will piece your puzzle together and reach your goals. Continue reading

212° the extra degree

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.

IMG_1907cr

212° the extra degree by S.I. Parker. Photo by Ren-Jay S.

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?”

Getting Involved – Graduate Student Organizations

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.

SPHSG Fall2013 Group Photo 1

The 2012-2013 School of Public Health-Bloomington Student Government Council

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.

Visits, should i stay or should i go?

So you have started to hear back from your chosen schools. Some said yes, some said no. No worries because you have chosen a variety of good schools, all of which you would gladly continue your education at. Let’s say you have two schools from the same tier that have both sent you an offer. How do you choose? Well if you haven’t visited the campuses yet, now would be the perfect time to go. Every brochure is going to show you the best the area has to offer but sometimes the parts you don’t see can make or break the deal. Depending on your budget and number of choices, you may be looking to make a number of trips. I suggest trying to narrow down your options as much as you can before buying plane tickets. Aim to get down to 2 schools and if you can’t choose between them then visit them both. You can inform the department you are coming or maybe they have an open house. You will either have a structured or unstructured visit. There are pros and cons to both but at the end of the day when you leave the visit you will have a gut feeling of if you could spend the next half of a decade at that school and not only be happy but prosper both academically, professionally and socially.

So you have applied, now what?

Congrats you have sent off all of your applications. You have paid your fees and jumped all hoops. So one last question remains, now what do you do? There are two very different options. You can begin your preparations if you plan on moving in the summer. That is the fun and studious option. Personally I’d suggest you ENJOY THE END OF UNDERGRAD! wooo congrats you made it. The grades you will get the final semester will most likely not destroy your graduate school chances (although I wouldn’t suggest testing it). This is your chance to finally relax while still at your soon to be alma mater. You cant really specifically prepare for graduate school because you don’t know exactly where you are going yet and you don’t have the tension in your shoulders from getting piles of forms and transcripts together. Yes you are stuck in the blissful window of waiting. Reconnect with friends if you have been distant, find out what other people’s future plans are…or don’t. But whatever you do just relax and let your past efforts dictate your future. Good luck