Tuesday May 21, 2013
Commencement ceremonies were held at most colleges and universities within the last week or two. Graduates often report feeling a mix of relief, happiness, and also some sadness. Why?
You've been looking forward to graduation since you first started college or graduate school. It's finally here! Why aren't you happier? Students spend a great deal of time and effort working towards earning a degree. Sometimes when a long-awaited goal is achieved, we feel a sense of emptiness -- sadness. Why sadness? What are the graduation blues?
Often students say something along the lines of: "I thought I'd feel different, but nothing has changed." It's a common feeling. I experienced it after defending my dissertation. What's the solution? Remind yourself of how much you've achieved. Look back on the path you've taken. Take pride in your accomplishment. Think about your next goal(s), whether it's to improve your social life, improve your physical fitness, or earn another degree. Did you experience the graduation blues? Share your response on this page and read what others have to say.
Thursday May 16, 2013
For those not in the know, an adjunct refers to an adjunct instructor - a part time college instructor. Adjuncts are paid by the class. Adjunct positions typically pay about $3,000 per class though some may receive as little as $1,500 and others $4,000. Most adjuncts are graduate students or graduates pursuing full time tenure track positions in academia. Adjuncts typically string together multiple jobs and often teach for two or more colleges.
Some have argued that adjuncting ruins lives. Why? Low pay, little control over what class assignments and schedules, and low status. Adjuncts often are invisible in departments. No office space, no phone, no status. The stress of adjuncting gets in the way of completing dissertations and job hunting. Although intended to keep oneself afloat before obtaining permanent employment adjuncting can delay graduation and negatively affect one's career. Is this overly dire?
Should you avoid adjunct teaching? Not necessarily. It's a personal decision based on your personal situation. But a broader perspective is always helpful. Thoughts?
Also see: Teaching Tips
Don't Over-Prepare for Class
Tuesday May 14, 2013
Summer is just a few steps away. If you're planning on going to graduate school, whether applying this fall or next, you should take advantage of summer time as an opportunity to get some research experience. Its not too late to speak with your professors and get some leads on research opportunities. These opportunities likely will be unpaid but help you get experience and make contacts.
Saturday May 11, 2013
Passing a comprehensive exam, also known as a qualifying exam, is the last step towards finishing your coursework. Successful students then become doctoral candidates and begin working on their dissertations. Comprehensive exams, or comps, are simply that: very comprehensive exams in which the student demonstrates his or her mastery of the field. Graduate programs approach comps in a variety of ways. Some require that the student learn all of the basic material covered in his or her coursework as well as the most recently published work in the field. Others require the student to select several areas on which to be tested. Still others treat the comps as a dissertation proposal, in which the student is tested on the literature that will become the basis of his or her dissertation. Comps may be oral or written.
Regardless of format, comps are a big deal and a source of stress for graduate students. Science Careers' Alan Marnett likens comprehensive exams to kidney stones. Passing a kidney stone "may involve crying, screaming, or fainting -- not unlike the most feared events in graduate school, including the qualifying exam." However, he explains that there are ways that grad students can make comps less painful and instead transform it into an incredible learning experience. Seriously good advice.
Also see: All About Comps
Studying for Comprehensive Exams