Saturday, September 25

What Works Best For You?

I’m on several grad school blogs and one brought my attention to a recent article on study habits and the shift in findings from ongoing research. The article talks about how evidence is suggesting that changing your study environment and studying more than one thing during an individual sitting might better establish the neural networks that help you retain the information that you are learning. I find this interesting from the perspective of working with college level students and my own kids…Milah just took her first test in first grade! I remember being in undergrad and grad school and having different spots in the library or coffee shops that I would frequent depending upon my mood and/or the material I had at hand. Hard core stuff definitely required the sixth floor stacks with an enclosed desk, but next to a window (you guys know how I am about atmosphere!) so that I could have some natural light, and I could pause to look out over the really cool garden in front of the library. I think you’ve heard me say how much I loved, loved, loved Ohio University’s beautiful and historic campus!

So, what works well for you? How do you find that you study best? Oh, the article also stressed the benefits of studying things “a little at a time” instead of cramming the night before – but, of course!

Check out the article and share your thoughts and experiences!

Friday, September 17

Graduate School Mindset

It's no secret that one of the best parts of my job is working with our students, but of course. I love keeping in touch with alumni and I love getting emails, calls, texts, etc. and hearing about their latest adventures and accomplishments. So, besides getting a text message from Sam with a photo attached - a photo of her new "grad student id card" at the University of Illinois....I've been going back and forth with Sam on the email about the acclimation process and her experience so far. She actually just found out that besides her fellowship, she is going to get paid an additional stipend for her research assistantship - how cool is that? So how is Sam doing? So far she loves it. This is what she wrote to me and I think it speaks volumes on why pursuing your Ph.D. is a rewarding thing to do.

"The workload. It's a lot A LOT of reading, but I don't feel overwhelmed. I just got out of one of my classes and I really learned a lot in that class just in the last 3 hours! So I am loving this. I also noticed a shift in my everyday thinking. I don't leave class and talk about random shit, I leave class and talk to my friends about the information we learned. We have more in-depth discussions and I think that really contributes to my breadth of knowledge about everything. It's just a totally
different academic atmosphere, but I like it."

--Sam, McNair '09 (you guys met her this summer)

Can't wait to hear more about Sam's adventures in her Ph.D. program at Illinois! And, I can't wait to hear about each of yours! :-)

Thursday, September 9

In the Swing of Things

We all have goals, right? I love the idea of a blog, but alas, the summer slipped by without much activity on the blog (Maureen is the exception here!). My goal this fall is to utilize the blog to post ideas, anecdotes, thoughts, etc. to help you think about your grad school process and to implement the action plans you all devised this summer. My goal is to post weekly. Here is my affirmation to that effect:

“It is great to see that now that I have made it a habit, my weekly blog postings are a reality! The scholars are enjoying these tidbits and responding with their own, and as a result, they are feeling more connected with the cohort. Even though we can't always see each other in person, it's nice to have this be a place we can just check in and connect when we have a few spare moments in the day.”

So, how is everyone feeling? Busy! That’s probably the word that comes to mind. Yes, yes, yes. And you are probably feeling like the summer zipped by with just work, work, and more work… While that is true, I hope that you do feel like your work was worth it and that you did sneak in some time for rest, reflection and rejuvenation along the way. Isn’t that how we are supposed achieve balance in life? Right!

If I may put this out there, try to keep a focus on your big picture, even as you deal with your classes, work, activities, friends and family and on and on. Especially as it relates to grad school and your prospects for continuing on with your education and developing an awesome career after you get your Ph.D. Try to think about all the work you did this summer from this perspective. Think about the big picture and prioritize your time so that you can implement your action plans little by little, making some progress with your applications each week. Even if you aren’t applying this fall, you can continue to develop your “grad school mindset” in this way….staying involved in research, continuing to research grad programs and so on. Try not to let the “big picture” overwhelm you, but instead, keep your eye on the prize as you take consistent steps toward getting yourself to where you want to be.