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graduate school

In graduate school on
July 4, 2017

22 Quick and Useful Tips to Tackle Your Thesis (Part 1)

If you have been following me on social media, you know that I recently submitted my thesis Who Steps In To Defend Online. This has been a long time in the making, and I am so glad to have officially successfully defended my thesis. Today I wanted to offer some quick and useful tips that I feel will be really beneficial for you as you tackle your own thesis.

This post was supposed to be just 10 points, but that didn’t quite happen the way I was expecting it to. Turns out I have a lot of advice to offer you from all of the mistakes I made while writing my own thesis.

Let’s get started.

22 Quick and Useful Tips To Tackle Your Thesis (Part 1) | Tackling your thesis is pretty difficult. For many, the thesis is the first major paper they will create. Check out part one of this two part series for 11 great tips on how to tackle your thesis successfully whether you are working on your undergraduate or master's level thesis.

Keep Reading, Darling

In Academics, graduate school on
May 13, 2016

The Road To PhD: 5 Things I Am Looking For In My PhD Program

As some of you may know, right now I am getting my Master’s in Sociology here in Arkansas. Today on the blog I want to share the five things I am looking for in a graduate program and why I am looking for those things. This summer, among many other things my goal is to narrow down a list of schools I want to apply to this fall. On the road to my Ph.D., I will be sharing an in-depth look at a variety of different topics. If you are starting the application process for a graduate program this summer too, I’d love to hear your opinions. Also, this post was inspired by a post on Kayla Blogs titled, “SLP Grad School: Deciding Where To Apply,” She gives a lot of great advice there, and I hope this post is just as helpful for those applying to graduate schools soon.

 The Road To PhD: 5 Things I Am Looking For In My PhD Program | Picking a PhD program can be very difficult. There are a lot of questions about the program that you have to ask because you are potentially devoting years of your life to a program. Click through to find out what I am looking for in my PhD program as well as a free guide featuring 20 questions to think about when picking a graduate program.

Location

As some of you know, I am an Arkansas native. I have lived here my entire life, and honestly, I haven’t spent that much time outside of the state. There are no Sociology PhD program in the state of Arkansas unfortunately. If I would like to continue my education in Sociology, I have to leave the state. This is rather sad for me, because my whole life is here. All of the family that I love and adore are currently living here and it’s the only home I have ever known.

Academia requires you to be able to move around though, so I understand that I will probably have to move around quite a bit to find the school I want, a school the will hire me once I get my PhD, etc. I am hoping to stay pretty close to Arkansas though. I have been looking at places like Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama for places to go to get my PhD. Although, I completely understand that that won’t be easy. I might have to look outside of my comfort zone for a place to attend if it means a greater education.

Diversity

Diversity is pretty important to me. Not just diversity in skin color; but diversity in gender, religion, ideas, sexuality, etc. I want to be around a diverse group of people with lots of amazing and unique stories to tell. I also would love diversity in the professors that I am exposed to if at all possible–not just within the school itself. Not to be so weird here, but in my department of choice I have never taken a class with an African American woman as my professor in either of the schools I have attended. It would be so nice to able to have a class like that during my PhD program. It would give me so much confidence in my own teaching abilities to actually see someone like me teaching a course in a subject that I love. *I’ll stop being so emotional now.*

On a less emotional note, diversity is important to me. I want to be able to see and understand a variety of voices during my PhD years. I love having discussions with my classmates now. I learn so much from the people who are attending my master’s program with me. I can’t wait to attend a PhD program and be exposed to many more voices and opinions.

Research areas

I already know what I want to focus on in my sociological career. I have decided that race and social movements/collective behavior are two areas of sociology that I am very interested in. I am excited to find a program where I can study at least one of those (bonus points if I can study them both at the same time!)

Understanding your research area when it comes to a PhD program is especially important because this is essentially the training you get for the rest of your life so you want to make sure you love what you study. Often times during your PhD program you are getting a lot of opportunities to not only get training but to get a ton of real world experience through publishing research, teaching classes, etc so it’s important that you get your research area down so you can pick a program based on the research areas they offer.

Assistantship/funding opportunities

Graduate school is super expensive. It costs a lot of money and a PhD program can literally take years of your life. Since graduate school is so expensive it is important that my graduate school of choice has great assistantship and funding opportunities so that I can pay for my school in other ways.

Right now I am so fortunate to have a graduate assistantship during my years getting a master’s and it gives me so much great experience. I was so fortunate that I was even able to attend a class with one of my professors. I love the experience that assistantships bring and I can’t wait to continue being a graduate assistant this summer and in the fall. Check out my post all about graduate assistantships if you want more information about the process.

Extra-curricular activities

I have talked about involvement in college a lot on this blog, and I want the graduate culture at my PhD institution to be great. Since I do have to leave the state for my PhD program I really want to have other great activities to throw myself into so I don’t miss Arkansas so much in graduate school. Having great extra-curricular activities is so crucial in my opinion so that I can gain leadership opportunities, connect with new people, and more. I want to be really involved in school where I get my PhD so that I can stay sane during the years it will take me to get a PhD.

Getting involved, even as you get older, is very important. You should look for different clubs on your campus related to graduate school, your graduate school major, and anything you can do on campus to be involved like attending games or lectures. Involvement is just as important in graduate school as it is when you are a freshman in college.

I hope this information was helpful for you as you think about your graduate program. What are you looking for in your graduate program? Everyone is different and while I care about these topics you may not care about them at all. I’d love to hear what you are looking for or what you looked for in a graduate program if you are already in one!

In Academics, graduate school on
April 27, 2016

The Ultimate Guide To Graduate Assistantships

This semester I got the awesome opportunity to be a graduate assistant at my university (and in my department, which is actually 10x better, and more practical for what I want to accomplish.) For those who are looking into being a graduate assistant, I am here to give a basic rundown of responsibilities, compensation, balancing work and school, and finding a graduate assistantship.

Graduate Assistantships 101 | Are you in the market for getting a new graduate assistantship? Click through to read all about what graduate assistants do, how you get compensated, how to balance school and work with a graduate assistantship, and how to find a graduate assistantship.

Keep Reading, Darling

In Academics, graduate school on
April 8, 2016

Finding Your Passion: Deciding What To Study In Graduate School

Making the decision to go to graduate school is a tough decision. It’s years of study, tons of debt, and you aren’t always sure what the point of all of it is. Today I am going to share with y’all my reason behind why I chose to study Sociology in graduate school, how to figure out what you want to study, and sticking to that.

 Finding Your Passion: Deciding What To Study in Graduate School | Graduate School can be difficult, but it will be less difficult if you study something you love! Click through to figure out some tips for just that!

I think that for me personally, I always planned to continue my education after college, for me my journey was more about what I would major in during graduate school, sticking with that, and applying.

Why I Chose Sociology

Since I majored in Sociology in college, I think a lot of people might assume that I always planned to study it in graduate school as well. That wasn’t really the case for me though. In fact, until my last semester of college, I thought I wanted to continue my education by getting a Masters in College Student Personnel Administration. I loved the higher education environment and the way things worked together. I really wanted to focus on retention rates in college or disability services because those were two places I had become really passionate about being a student and an ambassador for my college. Then something changed.

My last semester of college I got a job working in the Sociology department at my school. I’d always loved all of my professors, but there was something about actually working in the office. After working with the office and seeing the camaraderie between my professors and how they worked together, it really made me think. I also just loved the environment, the talks about sociological issues that I would often hear in the office, and just the thought of having a group of colleagues to do research with and grow with seemed awesome.

I had this passion to continue learning about sociology because my professors made me want what they had as a group. I am not 100% sure if I want to teach for a living or do something else with my sociology degree, but it’s really awesome to think that in the future I might have that sort of relationship with a group of amazing intellectuals.

Figuring Out What sets your soul on fire

Graduate school is hard. If you are not in it to win it, you may feel the need to go a different direction when the going gets tough. You have to be in constant pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. I feel like you have to be that way in college as well, but in graduate school, I really feel like the need to love your subject is even more intense. Graduate school is not cheap, it is not easy, and it is not always rainbows and butterflies. In this post, I talked about the 5 things I feel like you should know before you go to graduate school. One of the things that I talked about in that article specifically was the fact that it won’t be easy. This means that it is so very important that you love what you go to graduate school for. I recently shared this article exclusively on LinkedIn all about finding your focus in graduate school, and I feel like this advice can be extended to when you are just looking for your major. Here are some more extended tips:

You Don’t Have to major in the same thing

A lot of people get stuck with this thinking that they have to major in exactly what they majored in during college. It’s simply not true. So many majors accept a wide range of people into their graduate programs. This does come with a bit of work though. Most of the time graduate programs have a particular test you have to take and/or a few classes that you need as a prerequisite to get into the program.

My program at Arkansas State, for example, required us to have a B or better in Introduction to Sociology, Social Statistics, Methods of Social Research, and Social Theory. As a Sociology major in college, I had already taken and passed these courses. As a person who hasn’t majored in Sociology though, you would have to take all these courses and pass them with a B as one of the Admissions requirements.

Having to take a few basic courses shouldn’t stop you from applying for a program that is different from your undergraduate degree though. If you are passionate about it and wish to study it in graduate school, make it work. Take the courses. Take the tests you need. Do what you gotta do and slay.

If It’s Not Broke, Don’t Fix It

While you don’t have to major in the same thing as you did during your undergraduate career, I also have to say: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Sometimes you absolutely have to major in something different for instance because you want to be an Occupational Therapist, but there is no undergraduate major for that so you take on a Chemistry major instead. Cool beans, yo! But if you are like me and you love Sociology or insert major here, it’s perfectly okay to continue learning about Sociology or your major of choice in graduate school.

As I mentioned above there are definite pluses to sticking with something. You will be more prepared to enter that field because you have a wealth of knowledge from your undergraduate degree. That will set you up for great success in graduate school. It won’t be the only key to success, but it will be one of them that helps you grow in graduate school because you have a good foundation of knowledge.

Be Open to change

Applying to graduate school is a big deal, I think the most important thing is to be open to change. You may change your mind last minute about what you want to study for the rest of your life. Graduate school is a big decision. One day you might be gung-ho about occupational therapy and the next day decide that psychology is more your thing. You don’t have to have it all figured out, explore those avenues. Research all the different options you have. Talk with people you know in those fields. Get an understanding of all of your options.

Don’t be held back by change though

I think that one of the biggest things with change is that you can’t let all the change you might be going through hold you back. Yes, you may not know where you are going, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward. Don’t let that fear of not knowing exactly what you want to do at 20, 21, or 22 stop you from making a move. Apply for graduate programs, write those essays, take those tests. You can’t be neutral on a moving train. In my opinion, the easiest way to get done is to start. The first few steps of preparing for graduate school are going to be so difficult, but just keep going, just keep moving forward.

Start early, get organized, and get into a program that you love. It’s totally okay to apply to multiple different places and possible even for different things so through change keep your mind open and do something about it.

Monitor what sets your soul on fire

As you are going through your college classes begin to monitor what makes you happy, what grinds your gears, and what makes you want to change the world. Is there an article that you read that made you have all of the thoughts? A conversation with a professor that sparked your interest? Think about all of those things and record them. I feel like with time you will begin to see where your heart lies and where you need to go to find your graduate school destiny.

Forget The Haters

Happiness in your career and school choices is so much more important than money that can be made or anything in the world. If you feel happy and confident in your choice to go to graduate school then, by all means, do it, girl! You don’t have to prove the worth of your degree to anyone and you can do anything you set your mind to. Do you want a Masters in Business? Slay girl! Do you want a Masters in Art? Work girl! You can rock anything you set your mind to because you are awesome!

I hope these tips help you find where you would like to be in the graduate school world. Finding your passion and pursuing that in graduate school is so important.