Thursday December 5, 2013
Let's face it, recommendations are often hard to come by. Most graduate programs require three letters. Frequently applicants puzzle over the third, final letter. Who to ask? Students who take large lecture classes often feel that teaching assistants know them best. Is it a good idea to ask a TA for a letter? Probably not. Here's why.
Tuesday December 3, 2013
It happens pretty frequently. A student who I have had in class once or twice emails or stops by my office to ask for a recommendation letter for graduate school. "I've done research with Dr. So-and-so and have done an internship with Dr. Other but I need three recommendation letters for grad school. Can you help me out?" Most students find that third letter trying. At the same time we know that a recommendation letter that is simply positive without offering details or information beyond that found in the transcript is not helpful to graduate applications. So what do you do? Should you agree to write the third (likely weak) recommendation letter?
Friday November 29, 2013
Once upon a time applying to graduate school entailed compiling a thick packet of papers and mailing them off to your choice of graduate programs. Today's online applications have streamlined the process and are a huge improvement. The Internet has made applying to graduate school much easier but it has also posed new challenges. For example, common forms of communication such as via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, let our family and friends keep abreast of our whereabouts but also have the potential to permit outsiders a window into our lives. Do professors and graduate admissions committees review applicants' online profiles? Can you expect to be Googled? What can you do to clean up your digital footprint and put your best face forward to grad admissions committees?
Thursday November 28, 2013
Being an academic is stressful. Heck, stress is a part of life regardless of your choice of career. Take a break today. Take time off from studying, preparing applications, conducting research, teaching, and grading. Enjoy friends and family - and take a moment to recognize all that is good in your life - the pleasures of life. Happy Thanksgiving!