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Burning Questions for the Student Pursuing an Advanced Degree

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Grad school is a tapestry of unique students from equally unique areas of life. While you have your students who are fresh out of the undergrad mill, you also have a large amount of older students that have taken a break between degrees. Some students are recently single while others are happily married with children. The one thing that brings us all together is our desire for an advanced degree. While I sat waiting for my most recent grad school orientation to begin, a series of frequently asked questions flashed across the projection screen. For all of the newbies out there, I figured I’d answer some of the most relevant questions here.

computer lab

How does a graduate student balance time between work, classwork and research?

            Now is the time to utilize all of the information you surly retained from those time management workshops from freshman year. While some students may have the luxury of only having to worry about their classes, chances are you’ll probably be juggling school with a full time job (which is probably paying your tuition in the first place). In some cases, you may have a family to throw into the fray as well. The good news in all of this is that your job and your class times are already structured for you. Therefore, the smart grad student schedules a few hours a day specifically for studying and research. Make this time a part of your daily routine and it’ll soon become second nature.

lawn

How do graduate students meet people outside their discipline or the university?

            During the orientation icebreaker, I met a handful of students outside of my major. While meeting peers in different disciplines is easy at big events such as this, its a little more difficult to do on your own for one main reason; most grad schools don’t have general education classes that all students must take. Rather, all of your classes are focused on your particular major and you usually tend to end your program with the same cohort of students you started with. If socializing with peers outside of your discipline is of importance to you, pay attention to your campus email as most schools do social events (picnics, holiday parties) geared and open to all grad students. Also, if your institution has a student government that grad students are permitted to join, then become active (if time permits) as this is another prime way to mix it up

Pro tip: Explore study environments outside of your apartment or house. Just because you are working on an advanced degree doesn’t mean you can’t mingle with the undergrads in the school library. All of my reading takes place there, while my writing happens at a local irish pub

I’m a regular Hemingway!

teacher

Some graduate students are overachievers. How do you deal with not being able to over achieve at everything all at once?

            These were the same students in undergrad that just “got it”from day one; they’re frustrating. The main thing to remember is that grad school is not a competition and your degree is not based on how much better than someone else you did. If there are things that you are struggling with, remember that the academic resources that your school offers its undergrads are available to you as well. There is absolutely no shame in meeting a professor during office hours or seeking the help of a tutor. At first I balked at the thought of an undergraduate student helping me at the writing center. That is until I saw my grade on my very next paper elevate after said help.

drinking

Are you able to maintain a social life outside of grad school? Should you? 

            Not only are you able to maintain a social life, its absolutely necessary. If it were not for those nights of cheap beers, chicken fingers and fried mushrooms at the pub behind our school, it is questionable if my school chums and I would have been able to maintain our sanity while working towards our master degrees. Find a few classmates you click with as these students can serve as your study group, drinking buddies and support system when the road gets rough.

Pro Tip: While you may be making a ton of new connections with your intellectual peers, don’t neglect your non school friends. There will be times that you’ll want to talk about anything other than school and these these friends will be more than happy to take you mind off the 45 page qualitative research paper you have due in two weeks.

7 Things To Do When You’re Broke

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Let’s face it, many college students are usually a little short on cash. Not because they don’t work or have money, but because they use their money on important items, like textbooks and food, which could be a bit pricey. Luckily, there are plenty of fun things to do with friends or alone that will cost next to nothing.

Piggie bank

1. Go for a Hike or Walk

Put on those walking shoes and put in those ear buds because this fresh air will make you feel amazing.

2. Have a Picnic

In the mood to dine out but don’t have the money? Having a picnic changings your regular routine, making it feel fresh and exciting, similar to dining out.

3. Meet at the Nearest Coffee Shop

Bring friends and a few dollars for coffee or tea.

4. Read a Book

Visit your school or public library and immerse yourself in a good mystery novel.

5. Rent a movie

Renting a movie only costs a few dollars and if you’re with friends, they can help front the cost. Better yet, if you frequently want to watch movies and TV shows, Netflix is even better than renting.

6. Play a Board Game

If you or a friend has board games, now would be a great time to play them. Not only is it free but you can spend time with another person or with many.

7.  Make Something

DIY projects sometimes require items you no longer use either around your house or in your dorm. Search the internet or your own imagination and create items into something useful again.

If all else fails, catch up on some school work or if your professors have given you an itinerary for the full semester, start completing work for the following week.

Thanksgiving Travel Tips

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It’s easy to assume that most students will visit family over Thanksgiving break. It’s a great time to enjoy the company of friends and family that you probably haven’t seen since the beginning of the semester; all the while eating to the point of exhaustion. It’s a holiday where you don’t have to pass on the gravy and can get as many plates as you want. I can’t think of anything that would put a damper on this holiday; except maybe the driving part. No matter which way you spin it, traveling across the U.S. in a cramped car with siblings and the family dog is a pain. It’s even worse while sitting in stand-still traffic, not even 100 miles from home. For those flying, I don’t even want to think about the security checkpoint lines.  Lucky for you, I’ve dug up some pointers for those who aren’t veterans of Thanksgiving traveling. I’m hoping these can make your trip a little less miserable, and a little more comfortable.

For Drivers:Family Car
1. Leave Early, Stay Late. Obviously for some this may not be possible, but the roads are going to be packed. I recommend scheduling a Tuesday-Tuesday trip. You can also consider leaving home Tuesday and coming home Saturday. Regardless of travel dates, you’re going to be competing with obnoxious amounts of traffic.  According to Consumer Travel, November 24th is the single busiest travel day for Americans (That is Wednesday before Thanksgiving).  On some interstates, the traffic becomes horrendous in the early evening, so this is something I would highly advise for those traveling long distances.

2. Don’t Just Rely on Your Mirrors. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one of the months with the highest car crash severity is November. Also, consider that the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most deadly periods of the year for Americans. So think twice when you’re trying to cut your ETA a few hours by speeding (not trying to be all fatherly, but just saying).

3. Lighten the Load. Remember, you’ll only be gone for a a long weekend, so plan accordingly. There’s no reason to bring extra bags to fill the car to the brim, only creating more stress for your ride. More Space in the Car = Comfort = Better Trip.

4. Cruise on Through. You might as well click on that cruise control once you’re well on your way. This feature has more benefits than keeping pace at a constant speed. Cruise control will save you gas, prevent you from speeding (unless you set the car speed above the speed limit), and give the driver’s legs some much needed rest.

5. Lose the Gas Guzzler. Unless it’s needed, consider driving your smaller car to your destination. It will save you a lot more in gas expenses than driving an SUV. For those traveling with family, an SUV or Van may be your only option. Also, consider whether comfort or price are more important. If someone is squished in the back with the suitcases on their lap, you may want to consider a bigger vehicle.

6. Forecast the Best Route. There’s going to be traffic almost no matter which way you head, but by looking at traffic flow and other factors ahead of time, you can plan the trip more efficiently, saving money and a headache.

7. Bring Snacks. Grab some peanut butter crackers, some drinks, etc. to save a few extra dollars, and a few extra stops. Four stops at a gas station can take up an hour that could be better spent on the highway.

For Flights:
Thanksgiving Plane1. Pack Light. This is reiterating what was said for those driving. Make sure you’ve packed the lightest amount possible, because those extra checked bags can be awfully pricy (unless you’re flying Southwest!).

2. Arrive Early. With Thanksgiving being one of the most traveled holidays of the year, the security checkpoints will be extremely busy. Try to arrive at the airport at minimum 2 hours before the flight departs. This time of year, most airlines won’t wait for the stragglers.

3. Fly Smart. If you haven’t booked your flight yet, you better get on that ASAP. The tickets only get more expensive closer to your departure date. Surf around on some travel websites like Expedia or Kayak to find the best deal for you.

4. Avoid Busy Days. If you want to have a less crowded flight, consider flying on days besides November 24th, 25th, 28th, and 29th. This is Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, and Monday, respectively. It shouldn’t be too awful if you can’t avoid them, but it would be ideal to schedule around these dates.

5. Be Sociable. Being on a flight is a great opportunity to meet new people and have friendly conversations. Just be careful talking to strangers, try to avoid conversations about politics, religion, or the one percent.

 

Willhelm

I’m reading Biology

 

 

Sources:

Green XC

Examiner

Auto Insurance

Street Directory

 

Tips For Safety On Campus

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Campus safety has always been among the most important issues facing students attending college. Many of us have been forced to walk home alone at some point, because of procrastination (those late nights in the library) or because sometimes it’s a good move to walk home instead of driving (those late nights at the fraternity house). If you want to be as safe as possible, follow these steps to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.

safety whistle

  1. Don’t walk alone. Avoid this at all costs if you can. Walking alone late at night makes you a target, especially for females. If you are forced to walk alone, stay aware of your surroundings and avoid talking on the phone.
  2. Know the phone number for campus safety. Many schools have emergency phones strategically placed throughout campus, however it’s best to have the number saved in your phone.
  3. Carry a whistle. This will get the attention of others in case of an emergency.
  4. Always be cautious of who you invite into your home or dorm. You will meet many people in college, but be careful because there is always a small portion of people who are malicious.
  5. Keep your doors locked and windows closed. This applies to your car as well. National statistics show that theft reports increase on campuses. There were 24,069 burglaries on campuses nationwide in 2009. I once knew a graduate student whose laptop was stolen, and he was forced to start all over on his dissertation. That sucks.
  6. Follow your instincts. If something isn’t right, more than likely you will get the feeling and act accordingly.
  7. Stay alert! While walking around campus, keep your eyes scanning your surroundings. Look behind you, in front of you, and check both sides all the time. You will want to know if there is a shady character walking 50 yards behind you.
  8. Avoid binge drinking when possible. Statistics show that the majority of crime on campuses nationwide are alcohol related.
  9. Take a self-defense class. Most colleges offer these free of charge and they are useful in the future, not just during your college years.
  10. Sign up for your school’s campus alert system. Many colleges have these now; they are used to inform students of crimes reported on campus.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, and taking these steps will increase your chances of staying safe even in dangerous situations.

 

Alabaster

I’m reading Psychology

 

 

Statistics from: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/criminal2007-09.pdf