Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?


Leave a comment

A Day in the Life of Chelce Carter, a graduate student in anthropology

Chelce Carter, graduate student and mother of cats.

My name is Chelce Carter, and I am a graduate student in anthropology, among other things—including intern/advocate, graduate assistant, graduate school ambassador, wife and mother of cats.

MORNING

My day normally starts around 7 a.m., but more often than not it starts a little later. After I get up and get ready for my day, my husband (also a graduate student) and I take off for campus. We live out in the country, so driving in takes about 20 or 25 minutes depending on traffic. This isn’t the worst drive, but fog, rain, snow or other bad road conditions can make the trek longer.

TREAT YO’ SELF

After we get to campus, he gets out at Robert Bell to start his day, and I go on to my internship. Most days, I go straight to the shelter where I’m an intern, but on Wednesdays, I treat myself. The closest I get to breakfast on any other day is a banana in the car on the way in, but today I stop at the Caffienery, a downtown Muncie coffee shop, for a bagel and tea.

WORK, PART 1

Sometimes I can enjoy these before my work at shelter starts, but more often I have to wait until I am done with my first task—client area. This is where I spend an hour with any residents or children who might be awake. Today is pretty quiet, but still poses challenges as I am not very good at interacting with children at times, especially ones who are less inclined to listen. Another staff member has made playdough for the children to play with later, and I mess around with it a bit. After more volunteers and staff arrive in the back, I head up front to start taking calls.

In addition to being a shelter, we also have a designated suicide hotline as part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This means that we can get calls from all over the nation, and sometimes even international calls. Calls range from very serious issues, such as emotional crises or suicide in-progress, to lighter topics, including lonely people wanting to talk or requests for resources relating to mental health, homelessness, etc. Today the calls were pretty light for most of the day, but there was a moment where the phones were ringing one right after another.

I was more than happy to take over the front desk, which requires watching the cameras, controlling the doors and fielding basic calls regarding business operations. At the desk, I was able to do a little bit of work for the Ball State Student Symposium, where I will be presenting a paper that is still in progress. I also chatted with some staff members about upcoming events that I’m helping with. Before I knew it, it was 2 p.m., and I was ready to leave.

FOOD, PART 1

I’ve been trying to eat healthier, but on busy days like this, I’m happy just to get something to eat. Today, I stop at a fast food place, get some food to go and eat in my office while watching some Netflix to unwind after my time at shelter. This is an important part of my self-care regimen that I try to practice to avoid burnout, a frequent occurrence in the non-profit world.

WORK, PART 2

After lunch, I head over to the Graduate School Office to call some prospective students to offer a meeting with our director of enrollment and recruitment. This task is part of my job as a Graduate School Recruiting Ambassador. In total, I call 15 people and talk to three, leaving messages on the others’ machines. Two of the callers set up a meeting, and I follow up with them via email.

WORK, PART 3

I do many types of work in graduate school, including work for my assistantship. This involves helping professors with a wide range of tasks. In the past, I have graded papers, organized study sessions and edited chapters of books. Right now, my main task is to get an article ready to go for submission and go over book chapters to make sure they make sense. I’m also reaching out to the local community to find out what opportunities exist for graduate students to get involved.

FOOD, PART 2

Tonight, I’m going to a poetry/essay reading with my husband. We meet at one of the food courts and get some food before heading to his office to eat and relax with dinner. After finishing off my pizza, I do a little more work before the reading.

EVENING

The poetry reading is pretty full, but we find a seat and settle in. Before the reading starts, I go over my calendar to make sure that I’m keeping up with everything that I need to. I’m using a Passion Planner this year, and it’s been immensely helpful in keeping my life on track. The readers begin, and in order to reduce my anxiety, I work on the task I was doing before while they read. At the end of the reading, I feel a little better, but still a little worried about everything that I have to do.

Some of the early reading that I did that made me feel really great about graduate school.

ADVICE

Grad school is not necessarily hard—but it is difficult at times. It will challenge you and invite you to learn more about your field of interest and the topics you’re passionate about. It will go from 0 to 60 in no time at all. One day, you could be sitting in a poetry reading looking forward to the weekend, and the next, you could be worrying about all of the things that you have to do before the weekend. However, I would rather have that worry than not, since I know that each thing I do is pushing me to a better place of knowledge and exploration.

While it can be challenging, and at times, anxiety-provoking, it’s worth it. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t ready to be done in a few months and graduate, but I would also be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy my experience. It has helped me in so many ways—academically, professionally and personally. Reading and exploring texts about my subject area has had a huge impact on my desire to continue on this path, one that is often not easy or filled with happy endings. Through this journey, I have gotten a better sense of who I am, what I want to do and what drives me, something that would have been much harder to do without the guidance and structure of graduate school.


Leave a comment

What Socrates Taught Me

Transitioning to a New Field of Study in Grad School

I have identified with the term “writer” all my life, but I haven’t always had the credentials to prove it. Though I was at first a physics major, then a philosophy major and classics minor, then a customer retention representative, one thing has remained constant throughout my various daily routines:  I always left time for writing. When, at 24, I decided to attend graduate school, I knew it had to be in fiction writing.

As much as I loved Socrates, Wittgenstein and Schopenhauer, I didn’t think I had as much to contribute to the philosophical community as I did the literary world. My passion lies in advocating for diversity. And as a writer, the most effective way I could advocate for diversity was through storytelling. So I began the daunting process of applying to creative writing graduate programs.

The process was daunting because I had very little formal background in creative writing. I remember people telling me along the way, “Oh, don’t worry, you don’t need to go to grad school for the same major that you got your degree in.” No matter how many times I heard this, I didn’t believe it. I was sure that maybe this was true for rare exceptions, but that I would have to put in a ton of work to prove my worth in an entirely new field.

Once I was accepted to Ball State and began my master’s degree in creative writing, I began to see a very different side of the story I had been telling myself. Here’s what I’ve learned

  1. You will need to do some catch-up work, but so will everyone else.

There is no “traditional” graduate student. People find their way to graduate school through many different paths. Some come straight from their undergraduate institution, but many people may be coming from a long-term job, an experience abroad or previous graduate study in a different field.

What this means is that when you’re sitting in class debating whether or not to ask a question, someone else is likely wondering the same thing. Whether it’s been a few years since you’ve cracked open a textbook, or you never had time to fit a particular class in your schedule, there is no shame in asking what may feel like a foundational question. Especially at the beginning of a new program, many people may be glad someone else asked for a refresher.

  1. You can learn a lot from socializing with your peers.

Everyone likes to feel smart, and the easiest way to make someone else feel smart is by asking for advice. If you are a student who switched fields when coming to grad school, you are in a perfect position to make friends by asking for help from those around you.

Within the first two weeks of my program, I heard people mention they were submitting their poetry and fiction to literary journals. I had barely heard the phrase “literary journal” before, let alone submitted to one. One day at the library, I asked a friend in my program if he could walk me through the process of submitting to magazines. He showed me everything: how to write a cover letter, find magazines I liked and submit to contests. Though artists have a reputation for being competitive, I think most of us realize that we are not competing for America’s Next Top Fiction Writer, and that there is room for all of us at the top. In my experience, the joy of seeing a friend published is just as gratifying as being published myself. While I can’t speak for the atmosphere of every academic field, I have always found people supportive and happy to lend a hand.

  1. Your previous degree may actually make you a more valuable applicant.

If I could go back in time, I would never choose to do my undergraduate in the same field as my graduate study. Coming from a different field of study has helped me in ways I never could have imagined. Especially in the arts, I sometimes wonder what people write about if they have only ever studied writing. My philosophical background appears in my fiction all the time; in fact, I am rarely thinking about writing without thinking about philosophy.

A professor once told me that she loved how I could make connections between any two subjects. It took me a while to understand why she thought that was an important skill, rather than just a reflection of my jumbled brain. But eventually I realized she was talking about audience. Having a deep connection to more than one field of study (whether through a major, minor or hobby), meant I could connect to more people when I explained my thoughts. With my classics minor, I can make metaphors that make sense to archaeologists, but also linguists and historians. I can draw connections between Wittgenstein and Hemingway, or between Dungeons & Dragons and composition pedagogy. This has shown up most in my teaching, where I feel it helps my students better understand the material in my classroom.

In short, if you’re like me and are hesitant about switching majors from undergraduate to graduate school, know that it is far more common than most people think. Sure, it may take a little extra effort once you arrive in your new program, but in my experience switching my field of study has been an incredibly affirming, positive experience.

This post was written by Graduate School Recruiting Ambassador George Hickman. George is a graduate student in English with a creative writing focus.


Leave a comment

A Day in the Life of Chelly Neuenschwander, a graduate student in counseling psychology

Hello there, and welcome to a snapshot of my life as a graduate student at Ball State University. I’m a first-year Ph.D. student in counseling psychology, and doc school is its own special beast. In other words, I started 20th grade this year, and I have not had a year off from school since I was 5 years old. I graduated from Ball State last July with my master’s in clinical mental health counseling, and four weeks later, I started doc school. Every doc student is busy by nature because we fill many roles and prioritize our lives differently. Right now, I’m working to balance building my professional identity as a counseling psychologist and caring for the people in my life. I hope this play-by-play of my day shows how I seek this balance. I hope it shows where I make mistakes because we’re all human and have limits. I hope it also reminds you that you have worth and your worth never changes, regardless of your grades or relationships.

scheduleFirst things first, my schedule for the week. The green items are my set schedule each week, and purple are meetings that change each week.

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 12 a.m.

Time to take a break from reading a research article for our practicum discussion the next day because it just became one of my best friend’s birthdays! We met during the first week of college because we lived near each other, and we still try to meet once a month to stay invested in each other lives and to care for each other. Seriously, keep good people close to you. My break from the article was to text her a happy birthday message.

12:10 a.m.

Back to the article…in my practicum class each week, we write an answer to a broad question that relates to the readings for that week. This week our question is: “What is the real relationship in psychotherapy?” I work on creating an outline for my answer, but I get sleepy before I can actually write it in paragraph form.   I decide to wake up earlier to finish it.

8:30 a.m.

Time to rise and shine. I open my assignment to continue processing the real relationship in psychotherapy and respond to emails about a presentation I’m giving later in the day.

10:13 a.m.

I’m not sure how correct my answer is regarding the “real relationship” in counseling, but I’ve finished the assignment and emailed it to my professor. Like many things in life, I don’t think there is one correct answer, and that’s okay. I’m again thankful for this Ph.D. program that pushes my mind and understanding of the world.

hairNow it’s time to get ready for my day. The major question I have to ask myself: Do I straighten my hair or wear my hair up to show off my undercut?

Since it’s winter, I decide to wear my hair down. I make a mental note to get more rest for the bags under my eyes to go away.selfie

11 a.m.

My commute from my apartment to Ball State is about 10 minutes, and I build in another 10 minutes to ride the bus from the parking lot to whatever building I need to go to. An easy way to get exercise is to NOT ride the buses, but most of my shoes were made for fashion, not walking.

11:10 a.m.

I’ve lived in Indiana my whole life, and I forgot to check the weather this morning before dressing for my day. It’s snowing pretty hard and turning my straight hair to waves. I make a mental note to always check the weather. On the bus ride, I mentally plan my Instagram post for my friend’s birthday and respond to text messages.

11:20 a.m.

Meet with a current graduate student at the on campus Starbucks. We discussed the ups and downs of graduate work, graduate school orientation last fall semester and how the Graduate School can best support its students. I walked away feeling peaceful that graduate students are concerned about the community they are in and how students want to learn more about social justice and advocacy—especially for the voices that go unheard.

11:50 a.m.

I make a quick detour to the Graduate School to pick up brochures for my Path Marked Graduate School presentation.

12 p.m.

This hour is my clinical supervision of my counseling work with a licensed psychologist, who also teaches in our department. My supervisor and I discuss my cases, and I bounce ideas off of her for my practicum midterm exam and presentation.

1 p.m.

Path Marked Graduate School presentation! My co-leader and I discuss the mechanics of different graduate school programs and what to expect in graduate work to a class of undergraduate students. Part of my graduate assistantship is teaching an undergraduate course, and this year I’m teaching Human Relationship Development. One member of the audience is one of my current students, and I also have a past student in this audience.

2 p.m.

My practicum class is four hours long because we spend the first two hours discussing the reading and the last two hours watching each other counsel and giving feedback. At least 30 minutes of our discussion is attempting to define what it means to be genuine/authentic as therapists to create a real relationship with our clients.

6 p.m.

After class, I immediately switch from being a student to being a therapist. I work on being genuine in the session, and it seems to have a good impact on the therapeutic relationship.

feet7:10 p.m.

Remember how it snowed all day? Totally wore the wrong shoes. Plus, I wore my coat without gloves to get into my car for my ice scraper.

7:40 p.m.

To rest and slow myself down, I make dinner and plan to watch the last half of “The Revenant” (this movie is terrifying and one of those that you become invested in the story).

8:50 p.m.

One of the men in my Bible study group calls me for my roommate and I to go to Savage’s Ale House with him and his roommate, who is also in our group. I have to know how The Revenant ends at this point, and my roommate was finishing a television show too. I tell him we’ll venture onto the icy roads at 9:30 to meet them.

9:40 p.m.

Safely arrive at Savage’s. We keep making jokes and adding onto our roommate’s stories for dramatic effect. I laughed hard enough for my sides to hurt! I feel grateful for these friendships and the memories we created from this evening.

11:10 p.m.

I finish watching a Factor Analysis lecture from yesterday, which is one of my classes that you can either go to class, watch class live from somewhere else, or watch class afterward.

I hope this detailed blog of my day has given you an insight into the different roles that a graduate student holds! Each day is a little different, but the experience is worth it.


Leave a comment

A Day in the Life of Morgan Gross, a graduate student in English

Hi! I’m Morgan Gross, and I’m a grad student at Ball State. I’m in my third year of the rhetoric and composition Ph.D. program in the English department. For this “Day in the Life” series of blog posts, graduate students are supposed to give readers a glimpse into our typical day… sorry to disappoint, but my schedule doesn’t really do “typical.” I occupy the positions of student, teacher and administrator, so my day-to-day activities are a bit of a juggling act. Every day is different! But I kind of love that.

As a graduate student, I’ve completed my coursework and, as of last month, successfully passed my comprehensive exams (yay!). In the video below—thanks, Jacket Copy Creative!—you can see me reading in my office and in the library. That was in preparation to take my exams. Not captured in the video is me also reading at my favorite café downtown, at home (on my couch, at my desk, in bed), in line at the DMV, while driving in my car… just kidding about that last one. My point is studying for exams involved a lot of reading.

Currently, I’m working on writing my prospectus, which is getting me excited for the dissertation project itself! I’ll be conducting writing center research for it, and writing centers are my area of specialization and the main reason why I chose to come to Ball State for my Ph.D.

I take my graduate assistantship as seriously as I take my schoolwork as a student. That’s because it is helping me become a professional in my field. For the assistantship, I teach undergraduate courses in the English department, usually for the Writing Program, but last semester I also had the opportunity to teach Introduction to Digital Literacies (again, pictured in the video), which was really fun and interesting (robots + writing = YASS). Teaching is a big responsibility, and requires me to spend time designing curriculum, lesson planning, conferencing with students and grading their projects.

I also have the opportunity, as part of my assistantship, to do some administrative work for the Writing Program. This involves participating in various departmental committees, supporting other instructors in the Writing Program and planning and facilitating professional development events, maintaining the program’s digital and print presence, conducting institutional research and organizing the annual Essay Contest, to name a few of my duties.

Finding a balance between all of these various responsibilities and my personal life can be a challenge. Here are the things that I’ve found can help: a high quality agenda book, flexibility and a sense of humor when things don’t go as planned, good friends, regular exercise and a passion for my work. Oh yeah, and tea! (See video.)


Leave a comment

A Day in the Life of Preston Radtke, a graduate student in the Center for EMDD

Hello everyone! My name is Preston Radtke, and today, I will be taking you on a somewhat abridged trip into my life as a graduate student. A little about myself: I’m currently a first year graduate student in the Center for Emerging Media Design and Development. I graduated from undergrad here at Ball State last May with a double major in creative writing and public relations. I am also a Graduate School Recruiting Ambassador for Ball State.

Anyway, to the trip:

7:30 a.m.—Wake up and get ready for the day.

8:15 a.m. —Arrive at work. Work for me comes in the form of a graduate assistantship with Unified Technology Support in the Adaptive Lab. We’re in charge of all adaptive and assistive technologies and services for students and staff with disabilities here at Ball State. When I first arrive at work, I always have a brief meeting with my boss to dish out assignments for the day. Today for instance, I was sent to the Learning Center in North Quad to install a screenreader on a number of their computers.

I’m usually at the Adaptive Lab all-day if I’m not in class. At the lab we serve as a study space, a resource for assistive technology and we sometimes go on trips to speak at classes or to install software across campus. This position has been extremely rewarding for me; I’ve gotten access to activities and programs that most normal students wouldn’t have. For instance, early last semester my boss and I went to a meeting in iLearn to discuss the viability of using Canvas, which is an alternative to Blackboard.

I learned about this position because in undergrad I was a lab assistant there. I had several other graduate assistantship options, but this one seemed to be the most familiar and comfortable—something that I valued as a first year grad student.

2 p.m.—Class. As an EMDD student, all of my classes and most of my class-related meetings take place on the third floor of the Arts and Journalism building. Our classes meet once a week and generally last for two hours and 40 minutes. However, sometimes we don’t meet each week; instead, we go to smaller meetings with our project teams or conduct fieldwork.

4:40 p.m.—Leave class and check-back in at the lab. I do this at the end of the day if I’m not in the lab. Usually I have a quick meeting with my boss to go over loose ends, and I instruct the night lab assistant on what needs to get done.

After this I usually go home, volunteer or attempt to go to the gym. I usually don’t get started on my classwork until after dinner at around 8 p.m. Though this is a “Day in the Life,” no day is the same. For instance, tomorrow I don’t have class at all, but I have a meeting with a prospective student in the Student Center. The day after that, my boss and I will be attending a conference on mobile screenreaders in Indianapolis. The point is, my job and my classes are both very unpredictable, and exciting.

If you have any questions about graduate school, assistantships, or Ball State on the whole, please feel free to reach out to me at rpradtke@bsu.edu. Thank you for reading!


Leave a comment

A Day in the Life of Hilary Janysek, a graduate student in flute performance

Hi! I am Hilary Janysek, and I am a graduate student in flute performance. I am in my second year of study in the Doctor of Arts Degree, and it is my fourth year at Ball State (I also did my master’s degree here.) Coming to Ball State for graduate studies in music was a HUGE decision for me, as I moved far away from my friends and family, and left a well-paying job as a public-school teacher in Texas. However, as you will see in this snapshot of my life, grad school challenges me to think in new ways and inspires me to go after my dream of becoming a professional performer and university professor.

7:40 – 9:15 AM: This week was only the second week of the semester, so my schedule is still getting settled. I decided to take some down time last night instead of working on some assignments, which is why I woke up so early this morning. My day began by arriving at school at 7:40 a.m. to get to the library and prepare for my 9:30 a.m. class. The class is MUST 722: Seminar in the Principles of Music Theory, or more commonly referred to as Theory Pedagogy. In this course, we learn how to teach music theory to undergraduate students, which is part of the core music curriculum. Music Theory is usually taught by specialists, but many beginning university teachers are assigned to teach this course. Our assignment was to plan a 15-minute lesson on a topic of fundamentals. It had been a while since I had learned or taught the topic I was assigned, but once I started reviewing the text, I became very excited about teaching it. I typed out a lesson plan and printed it just in time to head to class.

On the way out of the library, I stopped by the main desk to pick up a bundle of books that came in through interlibrary loan (a FANTASTIC resource to use). I am starting a research project for my lecture recital, and I ordered many pieces I had never heard of before. Getting new music is like Christmas morning for me, so I was so excited to pick them up and am looking forward to trying them out later!

Interlibrary loan materials

Interlibrary loan materials

9:30-10:45: Theory Pedagogy class. We ran out of time for my teaching assignment, unfortunately. But, I had a blast acting like a student and trying to come up with questions undergraduates might ask. This energized my enthusiasm for teaching even more and got me fired up to teach my lesson next week!

10:50-11:50: Right after class, I had to run downstairs for a meeting with the graduate coordinator of the School of Music, Dr. Linda Pohly, and the director of graduate recruiting and enrollment, Stephanie Wilson. This was another inspiring moment in my day as I got to learn more about what happens “behind the scenes” in terms of recruiting management. We looked at enrollment numbers from previous years and discussed some ways that we can improve recruiting strategies for the future. This meeting and other activities I have participated in as a Graduate Recruiting Ambassador are so important to my career as a university professor, and I am so blessed to take part in them.

11:50-12:15: My “lunch” time. I had a few minutes to eat a power bar and answer emails before my next task. Don’t worry, I’ve been snacking all morning and will continue to snack in the afternoon when I can!

12:30-1:30: I teach a private flute lesson. While in grad school full-time, holding a graduate assistantship in Music History and participating in the Graduate Recruiting Ambassador Program, I also have a very small studio of private flute students to bring in a little extra income. My student today is also a private teacher in the area who wants to improve her playing and eventually audition for graduate programs. We enjoy high-level and pedagogical discussions throughout each lesson, which I LOVE!

1:30-2:30: After the lesson, I head back to the sanctuary of my office, where I spend some time answering emails, organizing some school work and preparing for another class I will be attending tonight.

2:30-4:45: These couple of hours are devoted to accomplishing work for my assistantship. As a GA, I am assigned to 20 hours of work per week. Usually, I teach an undergraduate course, MUHI 100, but this semester is devoted to more administrative tasks for faculty members—organizing and uploading Blackboard content, grading (oh, so much grading!) and working on data files that will lead to a professor’s publication.

5:00-7:40 PM: This is my final class of the day, MUSE 743: Seminar: The Role of Music in Higher Education. I have been looking forward to this class because of what I have heard from other students who have taken it. I knew the rumors would be true when the professor began the class with a statement about how his job in this class was to make sure we all got jobs. Great! That is what I need! Throughout the semester, we will discuss resumes, curriculum vitas, cover letters, the tenure process and how to make a good impression. In the first class, we all had to describe what job we wanted to apply for and why we were qualified in two minutes. It was a great exercise to prepare us to speak eloquently in an interview process. I left the class again feeling inspired and uplifted.

Dinner at Ruby Tuesday

Dinner at Ruby Tuesday

8:00-10:00 PM: Dinner! I had a pretty action-packed day today, so it was nice to meet up with one of my best friends and fellow grad student for dinner at Ruby Tuesday where we enjoyed good food, laughter and great discussion.

10:00-11:30 PM: Since I didn’t get much practice time in today, I had to end the day with a bit of practice. With such a hectic schedule, I really do love practicing. I can really feel progress happening and don’t have to worry about other work-oriented tasks.

Midnight: I finally get home and crash into my bed! I must get some good rest so I can do it all again tomorrow!

I’m not going to lie, life as a grad student for me is EXHAUSTING! But it is the kind of exhausting that makes you excited to get to work, learn and impact others. I would not be who I am today if I didn’t take a leap and go to grad school four years ago. I am excited for what the future holds after achieving my graduate degree, and I will always be thankful to Ball State for providing me with meaningful and applicable experiences, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with talented colleagues.


Leave a comment

A Day in the Life of Robert Young, a graduate student in English

My name is Robert Young, and I’m a graduate student in the master’s in English program with a concentration in creative writing. When I first came to graduate school, there were many myths and preconceived notions I had. Some of those myths were dispelled and proven false; others were confirmed. As part of the series, A Day in the Life of a Grad Student, I’ve kept a diary of my day. Hopefully this account will give those considering graduate school an idea of what to expect out of a graduate program. This is a day in my life as a grad student.

Monday

9 AM – 10 AM

Mondays are one of my better days. Typically, I don’t have any obligations until 11 a.m., unlike other days of the week where I can start as early as 10, 9, and even 8 a.m. Between 9 and 10 a.m., I wake up at my leisure. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone and clear all the notifications—some text messages from friends, but also a slew of early morning emails to check through. After that, I skim the headlines on my “New York Times” app, read an article or two and then get out of bed.

My morning routine is always the same: shower, breakfast (cereal on busy days, but today I start early enough for eggs and toast) and start to plan ahead for what’s on my plate for the day. I start thinking about all my obligations, the ones I know about, for the upcoming day, but inevitably, more will arise.

10 AM – 11 AM

Do the dishes, get my backpack loaded up with the books I need for the day—this is my miscellaneous hour. With about a half hour of extra free time, I’ll answer some emails, check my social media, write or read a bit. Around 10:30 to 10:45 a.m. I leave my apartment and walk to campus. It takes about 15 minutes walking through the cold morning to get there. I bundle up, of course.

11 AM – 12 PM

I walk into Robert Bell a few minutes before the hour and make my way to the second floor. For half of my assistantship hours I teach a section of English 104, which is in an hour, but for the other half this semester I’ve opted to tutor in the Writing Center. My assistantship stipulates that I work 20 hours a week, and 10 of those hours are in the Writing Center where I tutor and assist students with their writing and school work. Most of my hours fall on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—I’ve only got one Writing Center hour scheduled for Monday.

I deposit my backpack and jacket in the break room and then go sit in the main room, waiting for my client to arrive. A Writing Center session is usually about 50 minutes long. I assist the client, usually undergrads but sometimes grad students, in any way I can. We read through their essay together, talk about it as we go and correct mistakes.

When the session ends and an hour has past, I bid farewell to my fellow Writing Center tutors, gather my things and march on to my class.

12 PM – 1 PM

I was lucky this semester and got a nice classroom in the David Letterman Communication and Media Building. The other half of my assistantship involves teaching a section of ENG 104, and when I walk into the room on the second floor of Letterman, most of my students have already made it and are sitting down. I walk up to the front, drop my things in the chair and  pull up Blackboard on the projector.

Teaching is usually the aspect of my day that I put the most work into. Last night, I spent a good one to two hours planning my lesson, creating my activities and organizing my class’s Blackboard page. I try to keep things fairly streamlined, but there is still a lot of work involved in uploading assignment sheets, readings and rubrics. When I’m all prepared, I start.

Teaching is something that I used to get really nervous about, but not so much lately since I’ve had more practice. This will be my third semester teaching, but I still get some butterflies immediately before starting. They all go away once I get into it though. I start out with a brief recap of the last things we’ve talked about, remind my students about a few upcoming deadlines, and make a joke. They laugh at it, and I test my luck with a second joke. They laugh less at the second joke, but I still call it a win.

The lesson is a mix of some lecture about the upcoming assignment, then discussion. I get the students into small groups of three to four students each to discuss some questions I wrote last night. I walk around as they discuss, popping into conversations here and there, and when I feel like they’ve had enough time, I move into whole class discussion. The discussion goes well; they bring up good points and make some decent arguments about the topics of the day. A 50-minute class period goes by faster than expected, and I notice that it’s almost time to let them go. They’re hungry for lunch, and so am I. Making an executive decision, I wrap up, give them their homework assignment and let them go two minutes early. I attribute this to my hunger.

1 PM – 2 PM

Some days I pack my lunch while other days, like today, I get lunch at a dining hall. To avoid the initial rush, I walk back to the Robert Bell Building and go up to my office on the third floor. I sit down at my desk, look at social media on my phone a bit, chat with my next door office neighbor and then get back to the task at hand: lunch.

The Atrium isn’t so crowded today, so I wait in line for a sandwich from Boar’s Head Deli. When I get my sandwich, I grab some napkins, fill up the water bottle I carry with me everywhere, wait in line to pay and then grab the latest issue of the Ball State Daily News on my way back to my office.

During my lunch hour, aside from eating, I read the paper, do the crossword and/or Sudoku puzzle and then with any time left, surf around social media.

2 PM – 3 PM 

This hour is when I have office hours, so for the next hour I’ll sit alone in my office. Most of the time, students don’t come to my office hours, though it does happen occasionally. During this hour, assuming no students of mine come by asking for help, I work on some homework. Later on in the day I’ll have night class. There’s some reading I haven’t quite finished yet, so I use this time to do that. When I finish my reading, I answer more emails, work on any other work that I’ve got to finish for later in the week and if I get all that done, I’ll write or read a bit from a book in my backpack.

3 PM – 5 PM

At this point my day is almost done—on hold rather—until my night class later. I walk back to my apartment from my office. When I get home, I sit down for a few minutes to relax. I then break out the vacuum and do a few chores, tidy up the apartment, take out the trash, get the mail—that sort of thing. When all of my chores are completed, I’ll play a video game or watch some TV to relax.

5 PM – 6 PM 

Around 5 p.m. I’ll start dinner which, depending on the how stocked my cupboards are, might be more elaborate than usual. Since I’ve got class creeping up on me, I keep it simple: a salad, some pasta, a piece of chocolate for dessert. When I finish dinner, I clean up the kitchen then get ready to leave.

6:30 PM – 9:30 PM

This class, ENG 667, one of only two classes I’m in as a student this semester, only meets once a week for three hours. It’s in Teacher’s College, so the walk is a little bit further, and with it being extra dark and cold, I hurry to get there. I’ve prepared for the class, and it’s a topic I’m interested in—Victorian Literature. The prospect of a three hour class isn’t so daunting. We get a break at the halfway point, which is when I bust out my snack: a pair of granola bars. After the class finishes, I say goodbye to my friends and start the walk home.

10 PM – 12 AM

When I get home I prepare another snack and retire to my room. I snack as I get back to work. At 12:30 p.m. tomorrow I have my second class as a student, so I spend these two hours doing the reading and preparing any and all homework assignments. I could have gotten a head start earlier during lunch, but I wanted to watch a YouTube video instead. When I finish homework, I get to work on any other assignments I’ve got in the coming week like lesson planning for Wednesday and Friday classes I teach. I even start to get a dent in all the grading I’ve got to do.

12 AM – 1 AM

I start to wind down. I’ve completed all the work that needs to get done, so I relax a bit. I write some more, read some more and practice guitar. Around 1 a.m. I start to get ready for bed, though sometimes I don’t fall asleep until later, especially on days where I’ve got a lot of work that’s piled up. Today I manage to get to bed at a decent hour though. Tomorrow I do it all over again!

*

That’s a typical Monday in my life. Some days are easier. Some are harder. One thing that grad school forced me to start doing was manage my time better. With the combination of my own classes as a student, the class I teach, the hours I tutor and the mountain of work that I have to take home with me as both a teacher and a student, there’s a lot to do. Once I started to manage my time and use a calendar, things got easier. Grad school is hard and time consuming, but I managed to find a nice life/student/work balance. Finding that balance was necessary for me. I not only survive grad school; I enjoy it! If you have any questions about my day, about my program, or about grad school in general, feel free to email me at rjyoung@bsu.edu