Tag Archives: graduate school

So You’re In Grad School: September

Clearly, August and September are busy times when you work in Student Affairs. First impressions count, especially for incoming students. Even without taking classes, I’ve had barely any free time the past month or so!

If you’re a first year student…

By now you are anywhere from one to four weeks into your first semester. Depending on what you studied in undergrad, there might have been (or still may be) a rocky adjustment period as you get used to the workload, the way it’s taught, and the course materials. At first, I thought I wasn’t going to have to read anything. Few of my Undergrad U courses actually used the book, and besides, the lecture was basically a presentation about what we just read. It was COMPLETELY different once I was a grad student. We were expected to discuss what we had read. That was class. Discussion. So I swung completely the opposite way and thought I had to read EVERYTHING. That also did not work. I drove myself insane. There were not enough hours in the day. Eventually, I became really good at prioritizing and skimming and bullshitting discussion topics in a pinch.

You also might feel homesick. Or undergrad sick. I’ve said it a thousand times, but grad school is DIFFERENT. One of my friends decided to go to Grad School State and she’s having a rough time with it. She says she doesn’t like it. I know she likes her classes and professors…but she hasn’t really made any friends yet. A big difference is that she’s not studying Student Affairs, her program isn’t cohort based. I definitely need to make time to chat with her soon. It’s hard to make friends as a grown up. My advice? Put yourself out there. Find something to join. Organize an event and invite the people you know and tell them to bring the people they know.

One thing that I didn’t have too much of an issue with was being busy with work. I worked part time (and sometimes more!) my entire way through undergrad. Balancing work and school was completely normal. I had other friends that struggled though. Some never worked while they were in college. Others had non-ResLife assistantships and struggled to get all their hours in each week around our class schedule. One issue was if we were doing group projects, it was hard for ResLifers and non-ResLifers to work together just because our work hours were so different. I had programs to attend at night, I couldn’t be doing homework then. At the same time, they had office hours during the day, so clearly they could not work on homework at that time!

If it’s your second year…

So you (successfully) made it through your first year and you’re probably thinking that you have this grad school thing down. You have a way of studying and doing homework and balancing everything that works for you. Great, share those tips with some of the first year students. They need the help. Also, hey, first years need friends. Go befriend one!

Unfortunately, you can’t plan for everything. In your second year, you’re going to be starting your job search. Your program may require a comprehensive exam or that you do an internship. Your supervisor or other higher ups at your assistantship might decide that you’re getting more responsibility. All of those things could happen at once! So if you’re a second year student reading this, remember to keep calm and carry on breathe.

 

 

I hope you all enjoy September, no matter what year student you are, or even if you’ve graduated (like me!).

 

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Where Are They Now?

One book that I have been meaning to read is Job One. Job One follows a group of SA Grads AFTER graduation. Kind of like this blog does…except. It only follows me. While this book is nearly ten years old, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on where my classmates now are in their careers.

A lot of my classmates are in the same boat as me – they found jobs somewhere around graduation, started, and they are still there. I keep seeing a ton of Facebook statuses about everybody hitting their one year mark. For those individuals not in ResLife, I see a LOT of apartment searching right now. Why? People quickly signed leases since they NEEDED to move and now that they know they are staying longer, they are looking for a nicer place or they are moving in with friends they’ve made.

Two classmates went back to school. Well, one just kept on trucking and started doctoral classes WEEKS after we graduated. The other wound up getting a job at a school with a doctoral program and enrolled after she finished her first year. While another degree isn’t on my agenda anytime soon, I am very proud of these two for continuing.

I have a few classmates that did not hit their one year mark for a variety of reasons. All but one finished out the academic year at their institutions but have recently started at their new jobs. Their reasons for moving included wanting to be closer to significant others and family. One got a job at Grad School State – although in a different department than where she worked while we attended school. And the one who didn’t make it through a school year? He had some MAJOR life changes. Shortly before Thanksgiving, his wife was offered a job on the other side of the country. They could not turn down this offer, she makes a LOT more than he does. His wife moved out before Christmas and he followed in January. He was going to start looking for jobs but then they found out that she’s expecting! He’s decided that he’s going to be a stay at home dad once the little one arrives this fall, so finding a job for just a few months didn’t make sense.

There were some people that didn’t get job offers last summer. One just kept doing temp jobs at Grad School State before getting offered a job at a school a few hours away. Another moved to a pretty remote area of the country with her fiance where there really aren’t a lot of job opportunities. A third wound up with a job offer sometime last fall – but not in Student Affairs. He took it and he enjoys what he’s doing and he definitely applies the things he learned in our program, just to a different set of people.

I really want to get my hands on this book. I’m interested to see how my classmates compare to the students in the book!

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So You’re In Grad School: August

Here we are. The start of a new school year. This is when I should have started my SYIGS series, you know, so it started with the school year. Oh well. If you’re new to this, SYIGS provides some tips as well as gives information on what to expect in a Student Affairs-esque grad school program. Everything I write is based on MY experience at Grad School State…your program might be somewhat different, but it shouldn’t be TOO drastic.

If you’re a first year student…

You’re probably getting ready to leave for grad school if you haven’t already. I’ve said it time and time again – grad school is VERY different from undergrad. It’s an adjustment and it will take you some time to get used to it. That’s okay. Oh, and you’ll probably also learn a theory that will later explain your behavior during this time period.

My first few weeks at GSS were jam packed with training for my assistantship…why yes, I was in ResLife! Not only did I have training for my position, but I also sat through all of RA training so I could know the campus and the procedures better. It was a big help, especially since GSS and Undergrad U were VERY different institutions.

GSS held a graduate school orientation. The ResLife office made sure to have it on their schedule so us newbies wouldn’t be missing anything important. It wasn’t like the fun-filled orientation that I went through as a student and that I saw GSS freshmen going through. No campus tours, no entertainment, no ice breakers. I was so confused! I went to a resource fair, but instead of showcasing the different departments on campus, I was provided with bank and insurance options. At one point I was told I needed to pick up my student ID, but I didn’t know where to do that! It was at this moment that I realized graduate student services is an area that will probably be on the upswing in the next few years…

Another eye opener was that there were a lot of people in my program OLDER than me. Many of the students had graduated from college and worked “real” jobs before realizing they hated being mindless corporate robots whatever they were doing and making the decision to start a new career. So at the end of the day while I wanted to go to the bar and get to know my new classmates, they had homes and husbands to get home to. Who does that?

I guess all of my previous “points” have been stories about my experiences, my major tip for this month is DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. I can promise you that there will be somebody in your program or working at your assistantship who thinks they “know everything” and will roll their eyes at your question, but do not let that deter you! Training and orientation are the times to ask questions!

If this is your second year…

You might be a little bored right now. I’m sure there are training things that you are being forced to go to that you feel you don’t need to go to because obviously you learned it all before. Obviously. Yes, you might be bored, but please don’t let this attitude show! It might stop one of the new students from asking a question (see above).

I definitely recommend getting to know the new grad students in your program. Did you have a second year take you under their wing last year? Be that person for someone else! It is great to form a friendship like this now so you can help someone with this whole grad school process.

I had someone take me under their wing and then I took someone under my wing. I am in touch with both of these people. My “older” friend helped me as I was navigating the job search process. I just helped my “younger’ friend with hers and I also talked her through some tough decisions that she had to make during grad school.

No matter what year you are…

August is a crazy month for Student Affairs…students are returning, orientation is happening, training is happening, and of course there is a HUGE programming push during the first few weeks of school. Good luck to all of you out there!!

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So You’re In Grad School – May

May is always a month that’s pretty easy to remember…LAST DAY OF SCHOOL, WOOOOO!!! But seriously. I know last month I dropped the ball on my “So You’re In Grad School” post because I couldn’t remember what I did in April during my first year of my program. Guess what? I’ve been thinking about it all month and I STILL don’t remember what I did in April. But, because May was the end of the year, I definitely remember what I did in May.

If you’re a first year student…

Hopefully you have your summer plans all set because now it’s time to plan for them! You might be staying right where you are, you might be traveling to the other side of the country! Orrr you might be in the unlucky position of “we’re closing your building, MOVE!”. Trust me, that’s no fun. Also, I’m over moving. Like seriously over moving. Anywho.

If you do have to travel a long distance for your summer internship, make sure you have a reliable way of getting there. What’s that mean? Well, if you plan on driving to your internship, whether it’s a daily commute or driving ten hours twice the entire summer, take your car for a tune up. You don’t want to have to tell your supervisor that you are going to be late because your car broke down. If you are flying to get where you’re going, make sure you have a ride from the airport to campus and make sure you know how you’re going to get around during the summer. Does the city you’re going to be living in have a good public transportation system? Check it out ahead of time! Do you plan on renting a car for weekend trips? Look into the car rental service closest to where you’ll be living and see if there are any special restrictions. I rented a car the WEEK before I turned twenty five and had to pay an extra ten dollars a day. Other places might have a higher fee or might not rent to you, depending on your age.

Try to find out as much as you can before you leave for your internship. What are the details of where you’ll be living? Will you be housed in an apartment? Will you have roommates? One of my classmates got housed in a dorm room for his summer internship! It was a NICE dorm room…but he never thought he’d be back in one of those! Are there any special summer trips or retreats that you are expected to go on? What is the weather like in the summer where you are going? What are you supposed to wear in the office?

If you do your homework from the above two paragraphs, you will have a better grasp on what to pack and what not to pack for your summer internship. If you are flying, you might want to look into shipping a box or two ahead of time so you’re not paying a fee to check extra suitcases. At the end of the day (I can’t believe I’m about to say this) every town in America has a laundromat, so always pack less clothes. Always.

If you’re a second year student…

Congratulations. You’ve survived grad school. You better celebrate now because you’re about to start working full time and you will continue to do so for the next fifty years or so. I just sucked the fun right out of it, didn’t I?

Hopefully you have a job offer. Heck, maybe you’ve even accepted a job and have a start date and all that jazz! If so, that’s exciting and you might want to actually read some of what I wrote to the first year students as you plan to pack and move to wherever it is life takes you. Especially that part about bringing your car in for a tune up. You do not want to be stuck on the side of the road with your fully packed car. It’s no fun.

You might have multiple job offers at once. Whatever you do, DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THIS TO OTHER PEOPLE. There are plenty of people out there that are currently employed and you will not earn their sympathy. If you have a few select friends that have their job situation figured out, talk to them about it or chat with a professor. But seriously, do not just complain to the whole class. Every program has that one kid that does it and nobody likes them.

So. Yes. You might have multiple job offers. And you might have a hard time choosing between them. There will be pros and cons about all of the schools, the positions, the locations. One job will pay more than the other. It’s not an easy decision to make. You need to think long and hard about it and honestly, you need to go with your gut feeling. I know most people fresh out of grad school will want to go with the highest salary (you’ve gotta pay those loans somehow!) but that might not be the best job to take. In a perfect world, the job with the best description and best location would also be the highest paying, but it NEVER works out that way. I wish you the best of luck with your decision. (Also, if you do need someone to complain to, I have a job, you can whine to me. Or wine to me. Whichever.)

You might not have a job offer yet. That’s okay. As people are accepting (or declining) job offers, more positions are opening up. Some schools don’t have their budgets set for next year yet and once they figure those details out, they will know if they can add that position or not. If you don’t have a job offer yet, put your stuff in storage, keep looking for jobs, but more importantly, ENJOY YOUR TIME OFF. Once your friends with jobs get settled in, go visit them. See new parts of the country. Go to the beach. Once you get a job offer (which you will), you will not have time to do any of those things.

 

Whether you’ve finished your first year, your whole program, or just finished college and are about to start your Student Affairs adventure, congratulations on finishing another year!

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A Review of My Internships

Technically, I had three internships during grad school. All three were in VERY different areas of student affairs, but one really just felt like an extension of my assistantship, so I tend to not count it.

One of my internships was with an office at a college that provided services to people with a range of…I’m going to say needs because I dislike the term “disabilities”…including test-taking accommodations (extended time, readers or writers, etc), note takers, physical accommodations (arranging for a private bathroom or ground level room), and many other things. I loved the work that the office did…the only thing was that I didn’t do enough of it! Shortly before I came on board, the director of the office left, so there were some transitional issues in the office. I don’t think the interim supervisor was ready to take on an intern and as a result, there really weren’t too many projects for me to work on. A lot of the time, I would just assist in whatever area needed help. One day I wrote someone’s test answers because the student had broken their arm in a snowboarding accident. I took on a LOT of tasks meant for student workers. I also did not have much interaction with students…something I really wanted seeing as I was going into student affairs!

Luckily, I wasn’t the only student in my program with internship issues. I think a lot of us didn’t realize that since these internships were meant for us to learn something, we could ask our supervisor to assign us tasks that would help us grow and develop the skills we wanted. As I went looking for my third internship, I thought about what I didn’t like about the past two…and yes I’m saying two because I really didn’t like that my not-really-an-internship didn’t teach me anything that I wasn’t taught due to my assistantship. Also, it was getting closer to graduation and I was beginning to think of what sort of job I wanted after graduation. I made sure to look for things that I knew were going to help me out.

This last internship was in a student activities office. I focused mostly on the “fun” stuff, like events and Greek life. There were multiple professionals working in the office, so even though I had one direct supervisor, I got to work with a lot of people! It was completely the opposite of my previous experience. The very first day I was there, one of the office workers walked me around campus, both to give me a tour and to introduce me to other campus administrators. The nature of my work had me interacting with students more frequently, but to provide even more chances for interaction, I wound up moving my “office” location so students could pass by and say hi. I was a much happier person at this internship!

Some tips when you are looking for an internship…

Ask your potential supervisor what type of projects he or she has in mind for you! You don’t want to be viewed as just an office assistant that is going to make copies and file things.

Tell your potential supervisor about some things that you would like experience with. Some might be projects you can do on your own, others might be things you’d assist with. Is he or she open to helping you get these experiences?

What are some things that you will NOT do? One of my internships (guess which one) was something that I absolutely did not want to do. I took it just to have something to do. I’m sure if I had tried harder, I could have found something else. OR I could have spoken to my supervisor about what I wanted to get out of it. While I didn’t want to be an RD for the summer, I could have thought of some projects that I was interested in.

How have your internships gone? What are the most valuable things you’ve learned from them?

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So You’re in Grad School – April

So I might have dropped the ball this month. And no, that’s not an April Fools joke. Ever since the students returned from Spring Break, I’ve felt incredibly busy. Some days I look at my calendar and it’s a solid block of meetings. With all this madness, I’ve had no time for writing (or anything else…empty fridge, I’m looking at you!). I’m so bummed, I had a GREAT idea for an April Fool’s Day post. I guess it will just have to wait for next year.

I also really haven’t had time to think more about what I did during my first year of grad school during the month of April. Also not an April Fools joke. Sorry, first year students. Prep for you upcoming summer adventures? Seriously. I don’t even know what to tell you at the moment. I’ve forgotten stuff that happened only two years ago in my old age.

I remember April of my second year much better. That was the month we all started having on campus interviews. Now remember, never compare yourself to your classmates. You may not have an on campus interview arranged yet. You might have more than anybody else. Do what makes you comfortable. That being said, here’s a few tips!

On campus interviews will take you away from school and you might be gone quite a while if your interview is far from your college or if you are lining them up back to back (don’t do that). Your professors and supervisors will be flexible, but please make sure you’re checking the calendar before scheduling an interview. If a potential employer suggests a date that definitely doesn’t work, you can let them know. Remember  they work in education so they understand that you are still a students. Also, think about how you are going to keep up with school work on the road!

You don’t have to say yes to all on campus interview offers. IN fact, you should only say yes if you are really certain that it is a job you would accept if offered. Why  An on campus interview is a pretty big deal. Schools don’t invite twenty candidates on campus for one open position. It sometimes spans two days and a lot of people interview you. The school puts a lot of effort (and sometimes money) into planning it. If you don’t think you’re going to take the job, don’t waste their time.

Different schools have different reimbursement policies. Some schools will book your travel for you if you are traveling by air. Others will have you book it and then reimburse you. Some schools will reimburse you for travel expenses no matter what. At other schools, they might only reimburse half or not reimburse you if you decline their job offer. These are all very important reasons why you need to think long and hard about saying yes to an on campus interview. I was in your shoes last year. You are in NO position to shell out $800 for a last minute flight and not get that money back.

The traveling there is honestly the worst part. A word of warning – nobody expects you to wear a full suit while traveling, but you definitely don’t want to be wearing sweatpants!! You might be meeting a person from campus right as you arrive and even though it’s not a formal interview, it’s totally part of the interview. If you MUST wear yoga pants while driving, try to find a rest stop close to your destination to clean up at.

One time that someone told me was to take advantage of the bathroom breaks. During your long day, people will ask if you need to use the restroom. ALWAYS SAY YES. Even if you don’t have to use the bathroom, enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet. I had some fruit snacks in my bag and used one break to eat those to stop my stomach from rumbling.

Do you have any other tips for second years about to start their on campus interviews? Leave them in the comments!

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A Request…

So April has snuck up on me rather quickly. And I need to write my next installment of “So You’re In Grad School”. I know exactly what I’m going write about for the second year portion (since it is oh so fresh in my mind) but I have absolutely no idea what happened my first year. Seriously. SO. If anybody would like to help with that portion, please let me know by emailing me at collegeforeverever@gmail.com by Tuesday!

In other news. I’ve become addicted to “The Carrie Diaries” except I have one minor OKAY major problem with the show. Whoever the set designer/prop chooser person is REALLY needs to take a good hard look at the items they are using on the show. I swear, I’ve seen some of those outfits at Forever21. And in a recent episode, a person made a dumb joke about computers only for Carrie to whip out a 3 1/2 inch floppy which true story, I used to high school. I saw what floppies from the 80s looked like and let me tell you, there’s a reason they are called “floppy”.

That is a floppy disk from 2001.

This is the sort of floppy disk my grandfather used in his Apple //e.

Sorry about the rant…just something on my mind. Have a wonderful weekend!

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So You’re In Grad School: March

I know that February is a short month, but honestly that was the fastest four weeks of my life! I hope it felt a bit slower for all you grad students out there…

If you’re a first year student…

By now you should definitely know what you are doing for the summer, even if those plans are working at the town beach Snack Shack. Some awesome last minute opportunity might come up, but if you don’t have plans to learn more this summer, you better have plans to EARN MORE this summer. (See what I did there?) But really. I know you. I know your past. You graduated with a degree that you’re currently not using and have loans you’re currently not paying off because you’re in grad school. You might spend too much time and/or money at the mall…okay maybe that was just me in grad school. ANYWHO. If you haven’t already been offered an internship, now might be the time to come to terms with being a camp counselor/nanny/retail worker for the summer.

Registration for next semester (aka next year) is right around the corner. As a second year student, you probably have more room to take electives. Ask some of the current second year students what they took and what they liked. Think about your future career goals and see how those electives fit in. Also, you might be required to do an internship during the school year at some point during your second year. I might have mentioned this before, but if your grad school is in a city or located a reasonable distance from another college, see if you can do this internship at another school, particularly if this school is a different type than the one you currently attend/work at (small vs. large, public vs. private, etc.).

Your friends in their second year are probably VERY into their job searches right now, but see if they have some free time to grab a drink or hang out for a bit. They will be gone soon and you won’t be able to ask for help or advice…at least not as easily as you can now! But don’t worry…you know who will be taking their place soon? YOU! Which means…new first year students! Try your best to squeeze in some volunteering during interview days. I unfortunately did not get to do this, but I remember the student who (literally) took me in and showed me around during my interview weekend.

If you’re a second year student…

You probably skipped the first part of this entry. THAT’s how busy you are right now. Actually, you’re probably reading this while sitting in the airport waiting to board your flight to TPE. I wish you the best of luck!

What can you expect at TPE? Well, it’s going to be huge. Like, no matter how much I say that, you still will not be prepared for just how huge it is. The room with mailboxes that was at your regional conference? At least ten times more. Oh, and that’s just candidate mailboxes. But if you did go to a regional conference, the set up is rather similar, just bigger.

There’s a room with candidate mailboxes. You will want to check this room every five minutes but you MUST refrain from doing so. It will just make you feel bad about yourself. When you do go in there, try to ignore all the goodies you see stuffed into or on top of people’s boxes. I swear, I somehow managed to interview with the only schools NOT giving out water bottles or t-shirts or stuffed animals. That also made me feel bad. As much as you’re going to want to go check your box with friends, try to not go with friends that interviewed for the same position as you. Nothing feels worse than one of you getting invited to a second interview and the other one not. There’s also a room with employer mailboxes. You will not go in this room. Instead, there are boxes you can leave it in in each of the candidate work rooms.

So yes, there are candidate workrooms. There are some that are more quiet than others and there are some with computers and printers. Unless it is first thing in the morning or the end of the day, you will never find a completely empty table, so be ready to make some new friends! I actually stayed in touch with the friends I made at TPE and it was nice to hear about somebody else’s job search that wasn’t in my program.

There’s a candidate waiting area, but this time it’s grouped by alphabet. You will begin to know the people in your section. If they are set up like they were last year, interviewers could come to either end of the curtained-off “room”, so sitting in the middle was your best bet. Try to get there a bit early so you can sit in the front row and won’t have to awkwardly step over people’s feet and bags when trying to leave your middle row seat. Also, try to avoid scheduling interviews back-to-back. This will KILL you.

Have a wonderful March and I cannot wait to hear about either your internships for the summer or next year ORRR your first big kid jobs! Also, if you have any ideas about what to tell first year students in April…just looked in my notebook (and on the SYIGS page) and saw that all I wrote was question marks. Sigh.

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So You’re in Grad School: February

Welcome to February’s installation of “So You’re in Grad School..”! Congratulations, if you’re reading this, that means you’re still in grad school. Whether you’re starting your second semester or last semester, it certainly is an achievement.

If you’re a first year student…

You are starting your second semester right about now. The good news is that you’ve done this once before and you should have the hang of things by now. The bad news is that just when you had a nice routine down, you have to start over with different classes, different professors, and possibly some new responsibilities. Hopefully the friends that you made last semester are still around and you can still use them as an outlet from the grad school madness.

Last month, I told you to think about assessing your assistantship experience. This month, as your new classes get started, take a look back at what went well and what didn’t work so well last semester. Did some studying techniques work better than others? Was there any area that you particularly struggled with? My first semester, I couldn’t read all the pages and pages my professors assigned me. I finally came up with a system that made it somewhat manageable. Are there any resources on campus that can help you with these areas? I didn’t go to Grad School State for undergrad, so I was unfamiliar with the GSS versions of the resources I had relied on Undergrad U.

Work/life balance is something that student affairs professionals talk about a lot. It does apply to you as a student…except it’s now work/life/school balance. You know your supervisor and some of your professors better. Feel free to discuss any balance issues with them. I had a supervisor once that was completely new to Grad School State…she wound up assigning me more tasks than any of the other GAs on my level had because she was unaware of how rigorous my program was. I spoke with my supervisor and made her aware that I was taking more credits than the other GAs AND had more responsibilities than any of them. I know it comes off as whining, even when I write it, but the truth is that I was not going to do well in school or by her standards. I’m not going to lie – the conversation sucked BUT it made me more prepared to have these conversations with my current supervisor as we both navigate some new positions at PDFM U.

If you’re a second year student…

Last month I touched briefly on prepping for the job search. This month we’re going to talk about the smaller job search conferences. During the fall, I went to MACUHO’s annual conference. Later this month, MACUHO will host MAPC – a regionally based conference. Many of the jobs are based in Residential Life, but I did see some that have dual responsibilities with other areas of student affairs as well. While MACUHO is the one that I am most familiar with, I’m sure there are other conferences in other parts of the country. I believe one student from my program attended a different one because he wanted to be in the same area of the country as his fiance.

I had other friends that went to conferences that specialized in a certain area of student affairs including admissions, career services, and orientation. If you know you want to work in a certain area, these are important conferences to attend as even TPE and ACPA still have mostly residence life positions.

Take a look at the jobs that are posted at these smaller conferences. There have to be some that interest you and attending a smaller conference is a great way to prep for a larger one. I made the decision to attend MAPC at literally the last minute and I’m really glad I did. While it was MUCH smaller than TPE, the idea was the same. There was an area with employer mailboxes, an area with candidate mailboxes, work areas for candidates, and a waiting room. As long as you’re not wearing yourself too thin, check out some smaller conferences before you head out to a larger one.

I wish you all the best of luck with your new classes or with your job search!

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TBT – Passing

I remember when I was looking at grad school programs that I was completely opposed to any school that required a thesis to graduate. I hate writing (yet I blog…) and was terrified that there would be so much riding on a single paper. For some reason, the idea of the same amount of pressure to pass one test didn’t seem as intimidating.

During my first semester, a friend at another college studying a completely different subject took her comprehensive exams (hereby known as comps) and didn’t pass. I asked what her options were and she said that she was going to have to take them again. To me, that didn’t seem so bad. Hey, at least she was getting a chance to take them again!

As it got closer and closer for the time that my cohort would take the big test, I became incredibly anxious and stressed. I was actually sleeping with my study guides, as if my brain would somehow absorb the information overnight. I understood why my friend had not been happy about having to re-take comps – she wasn’t mad about not having passed, she did not want to go through this stress again!

And then the big day came and went. I literally don’t remember the actual test. I remember walking to the room and I remember nearly being in tears waiting for them to JUST HAND IT OUT. I know that I must have turned it in to somebody, can’t remember who, and then left and went to work like it was a normal day.

And then came the waiting. Everybody and their mother knew I had just taken this huge test. It was the only thing I could talk about in the weeks leading up to it. So now everybody and their mother was wondering how I had done on this huge test. It reminded me of when you’re a senior and everybody keeps asking you what your plans are for after graduation. I just wanted to shout, “I don’t know yet already, leave me alone!”

I guess in my cohort there was one individual who would stop by our poor advisor’s office on a daily basis to see if our scores were in. And one day, about a week before they were supposed to be in, she told him that yes, she had our scores. The news that scores were in spread like wildfire and everybody dropped what they were doing and ran to our advisor’s office. I had actually been hanging out with two friends visiting from out of town, so I missed the initial text and it wasn’t until after lunch that I found out. I told my friends that we were making a detour and dragged them with me to my advisor’s office. Apparently, I was the last one to find out my scores and the rest of the cohort was all together taking bets on whether I’d be the one person to fail (apparently it happens every year).

Clearly, since I graduated and have a job and all, I hope I don’t ruin the story if I don’t leave you all in suspense before telling you that I passed. I do remember that when I found out my score, I literally jumped in the air and screamed. My friends and I joined the rest of my cohort for our second lunch of the day and a longggg day of celebrations.

If you’re a grad student that has to take comps, the mere idea of them probably scares you. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to study and you will be fine. Remember, you knew this material the first time around. Later in the year, I plan on posting more tips.

Did you have to take comps or write a thesis? What was your experience like?

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