Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?

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

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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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