Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?


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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.

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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.)


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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!