GREady: Get Ready for Graduate School

Do you want to attend graduate school? If the answer is yes, shift the gear in drive. This blog will help you 1) stay informed about graduate programs, 2) decide on graduate schools, 3) apply for graduate schools (including the GRE and personal statements), 4) prepare for interviews, 5) find funding and lots more. Although this site cannot guarantee a masters or doctoral position, it does promise that you will be a very competitive candidate for your desired program!

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Statement of Purpose Part I--Getting Mentally Prepared

You know it has been creeping up on you, the last thing on your graduate school application..yep, you guessed it…your statement of purpose. Most graduate school programs place the majority of their decision based off of your personal statement. A personal statement should state why you want to study this subject, why you need a graduate degree in it, why this particular program, any future plans…..and most of all state that you have PASSION for this type of research. However, it is difficult summing up everything in your heart and conveying it on paper.

First off, you need to make sure you understand the entirety of the personal statement prompt. Write it down in a separate sheet of paper and make a list of all the topics the program wants covered. Most personal statements use the same format so you can use it for multiple programs. That being said you must revise it somewhat to cater to that particular program, which shows that you have done your research and really understand what you want. Stick that list EVERYWHERE. Put it on your computer, your desk, your books, your notebook, your fridge, your phone…..this will prevent you from procrastinating and will force you to always be thinking about it. The best statements are those that have been thoroughly thought over and constructed over the time course of 3-4 weeks. No procrastinating!

Next you will need to brainstorm. Ask yourself these questions:

1) What first drew you to this field?
2) When did you know this is where you wanted to be? Was it gradual or was it just one moment…EUREKA!
3) Are you passionate about it? How? (this is REALLY important so give it ample thought)
4) Do you have any research experience? Shadowing experience?
5) Do you understand what graduate school will be like? This is also important. If the graduate school committee feels that you are not mentally prepared, it might decide to decline you as a candidate.
6) Do you need a graduate school degree, why?
7) What do you want to do with your graduate school degree?
8) Why this program? Also, if you find 1-3 faculty members’ research exciting, be sure to mention it. Furthermore, if you have an idea of what you would like to work on with them, state it.
9) Do you feel you will contribute significantly to the program and to the field at large? This is a major selling point, remember you want the program to want to be associated with you.
10) What makes you think this program is a perfect fit for you?

From here, take a few days to mull over these ideas. Although you are not actually writing anything down at this point, you are still thinking about it and mentally preparing yourself for this challenging task.

In part 2 of this series, I will go over the outline. Once you have an outline, writing the actual statement of purpose will be far easier and go more smoothly than first hacking in. All outlines have a basic format but you decide how to approach the issue at hand.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Stress Busters- How To Handle Stress

It doesn't matter what day of the week it is, we always have stress. Even the weekends can be nail bitting. An upcoming interview, a test, a paper, seeing your relatives can all add more stress to your life. You definatly can feel it, mentally and physically. However, some people just seem to handle it better than others. Here are a few tips to help you bust the stress:

20 Stress busters:

1) Make a decision and plan around it. Do not ask others to make your decisions for you; you are the one who will have to commit to it and live with it.

2) Exercise daily. Choose an exercise you enjoy doing: jogging, walking, golf, basketball…you name it. Do not overdo it at first. Exercise releases endorphins, which gives you a boost in the day.

3) Listen to relaxing music. Music can really take you away and allow you to relax before starting a big project.

4) Laugh… a lot. The simple act of laughing can do a lot to change your mood.

5) Take charge of your financial situation. Money problems are a big part of stress. Create a budget plan.

6) Schedule a realistic day. Do not try to do too much and allow enough time to finish projects.

7) Develop a social support network—friends, family, classmates and other groups.

8) Have fun. Find a happy medium between school, work and play.

9) Talk out problems with others or write them out in a journal daily.

10) Eat well. Do not eat all that junk food. Junk food makes you feel bloated and ishy.

11) Listen to relaxation tapes.

12) Get enough sleep.

13) Be aware of daily hassles and try to avoid them if possible.

14) Be aware of role contact. Your roles often bump and conflict with one another, i.e. student/brother/father/husband/employee roles.

15) Avoid procrastination. Take action now and plan everything out.

16) Take time for solitude. Sometimes you just need some you time.

17) Create a personal space. Make a retreat and relaxation place.

18) Be aware of your breathing. Take deep breaths when feeling stressed.

19) Replace negative, over critical thoughts with positive statements and affirmations.

20) Be assertive your communication. Ask for help, set limits or boundaries with others. Do not be afraid to say no.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Upcoming Graduate School Fair

BYU and UVSC are hosting their First Annual Graduate and Health School Fair to educate students about various graduate/health programs and the application process. Over 80 graduate school programs will be represented at the BYU/UVSC Fair. Programs that will be heavily represented include: MBA programs, chiropractics, nursing, army, test preparation help, chemical engineering, pharmaceuticals, and neuroscience. Students that attend the fair are encouraged to dress up, bring a resume and contact card, and act enthusiastically. An estimated 1,000 students will attend the fair but numbers could reach as high as 3,000. If you have the opportunity to go the BYU/UVSC, take advantage of all the graduate school contacts you can make. During the application process, you might need to send a cover letter so make sure to mention that you went to the fair and were impressed by the school’s reputation. Furthermore, it is fine to mention the graduate school representative’s name.

The Graduate School Fair will be held October 25, 2006 at the Wilkinson Center Ballroom at BYU.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Behavior Change Plan

Applying for graduate school is no easy task. Sometimes it requires us to forego a movie with our friends or a much needed shopping fix. Creating a behavior change plan will enable you to fix any type of procrastination and set you on your long term goal to getting into the graduate school of your dreams.

5 Steps for Behavior Change:

1) Monitor your behavior and gather data.
2) Analyze the identity patterns and data.
3) Set specific goals.
4) Devise a strategy or plan of action.
5) Make a personal contract.

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