Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?


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A Day in the Life of Linda White, a master’s student in journalism

Wow, where do I begin. Let me first say I’m not your typical grad student. I spent 25+ years as an anchor reporter in four different states, raised a daughter, taught Sunday School and served on various community boards before chucking it all to return to graduate school. It was exciting and scary all at the same time.

In a matter of two weeks in late April/early May 2016, I sent inquiry emails about grad schools, exchanged emails with my future grad advisor here at Ball State, wrote a 1000-word purpose statement, received acceptance into the program, interviewed and was offered a grad assistantship. I’m a woman of faith, and I believe it was truly God’s plan! Unlike my undergrad years of procrastination, attending campus organization meetings and well, doing the bar crawl (did I say that aloud?), I keep a pretty mundane and structured graduate schedule. Here it is!

Grad Assistantship days – Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays

My day starts around 6:30 a.m. as I sleepily listen/watch local news and play Candy Crush. (don’t hate—lol) Shortly thereafter, I’m getting out of bed to make my breakfast and lunch to take to work. Yes, eating out is expensive on a grad school budget. Making and cooking your own meals is THE best way to save money! I have two chihuahuas. So once the meals are prepared, backpack packed and I’m dressed, I take them for a walk before getting on the Muncie city bus to campus. It’s free, sort of—we pay for it in our semester fee.

I have to be at work at 9 a.m. I work at Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA). This office helps Ball State researchers and students find and apply for grant money. In my assistantship, I’m the editor of Research magazine. I write about how researchers use grant dollars. I’ve learned there are a lot of amazing people who do extraordinary research here on campus. Fortunately, since we have about a half dozen grad students in the office, I’m able to set my own hours. I work, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, two seven-hour days and one six-hour day. If I’m not working on the magazine, I’m working on course assignments: watching lecture videos, reading chapters, doing homework.

Classroom days – Tuesday, Thursday

Pictured are Linda White’s chihuahuas asleep next to her while she tries to study.

I have a Methods class that meets on campus Tuesday and Thursday this semester from 5-6:15 p.m. Tuesday is one of my days to sleep in, but typically after walking the girls, (Gabby and Giovanna) I come to campus to work in the library to do more course work/reading and preparing for Tuesday night’s class. I have a study carrel in the library. It’s like your own private office, with a coat rack, desk, chair and computers. Why don’t I just stay at home until class begins? Well, my four-legged daughters are spoiled and like to cuddle and be held or lavished with attention. If you have a pet, you know exactly what I’m talking about and it’s hard to read that 30-50 page chapter/journal article when you’re constantly being interrupted. So, I come to campus, again packing breakfast and/or lunch.

That brings me to the rest of the week – Friday, Saturday and Sunday

So Friday, I typically take off, go to the grocery store, clean the apartment and of course walk the girls. There are weeks I have an abundance of work and schedule Friday, on my calendar, that this day, 10-4, at the library, is dedicated to such-and-such class. Saturday, I try to get to the library by 9 and repeat the process. Sunday, the library doesn’t open until 10, so this is another day I get to sleep in before… you guessed it… heading to the library. I find I do my best class work, during the day and try to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

Pictured is Linda with Raisuddin Bhuiyan, the subject of this year’s Freshmen Common Reader book.

Saturday night I typically make a dinner that can be repeated during the work week. Sunday night I make a different dinner that can be swapped out for the other.

Other notes

At the beginning of each semester I put due dates in my Google calendar with alarms that give me heads up, one day, three days, one week and if it’s a paper, two weeks notice.

Pictured is Linda with author Anand Giridharadas during a campus event.

I’ve subscribed to every campus email (Yes, I actually erase after I read). That’s how I knew as a student I could attend the symphony for free. I also met the author/journalist and the subject of “The True American, Murder and Mercy in Texas.” And there are some awesome free Friday movie nights at Prius Hall (although I’m usually too tired to attend-lol.)

When I’m not worried about the next paper or assignment, I’m worried about paying for grad school and missing my 24-year-old married daughter who lives in Alabama. On some nights, that’s what keeps me up, but I’m usually too tired to do too much worrying due to all of the intellectual stimulation. 😀

I have no regrets about this decision. It can be mind-numbing and overwhelming at times, but I know it’s totally worth it! If I can do it at my age, anyone can!


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A Day in the Life of George Hickman, a master’s student in creative writing

After graduating with my undergrad degree in 2013, I put off applying to grad school for roughly two years. One of the reasons I was hesitant to apply was that I did not have a clear concept of graduate school in my mind. The few people I knew working on their graduate degrees were not in my field, and being unable to conceptualize what a creative writing degree would look like day-by-day was a huge hindrance to my ability to set goals for my future. The aim of this blog post is to pull back the curtain on every day graduate life, so that if you are unsure if grad school is right for you, this will help demystify some of the differences between the graduate and undergraduate experience.

Monday, March 13

8 a.m.

This is my new wake up call, now that I no longer teach 8 a.m. classes. I live in an apartment complex that’s about a 20-minute walk from the English building, the short and cost-effective commute a luxury I could never have in my home city of Philadelphia. Since I always wake up with hair like a god, it doesn’t take long to get ready, and I head out the door to arrive at my first class 10 minutes before it starts.

9 a.m.

As a creative writing student, I teach English Rhetoric & Writing. It’s a required course for all students unless they have passed out of it with a placement exam. My course is themed around the rhetoric of gender, sexuality, family and activism. Unlike some more rigid programs, Ball State gives us English majors a lot of freedom with how we decide to cover our core curriculum. Since I came into grad school with very little experience in English, I was relieved to find that I could channel my experience teaching gender and sexuality into my course curriculum. Being able to talk about subjects on which I had already presented and taught in classrooms really helped boost my confidence. In my class, we use readings about bisexuality, polyamorous families and gender non-conforming people to talk about the strategies behind argument.

Today, we are talking about asexuality. On Mondays, I ask my class if they are involved with or hosting any events this week on campus. It gives them the opportunity to support each other outside of class and, as a bonus, it gives me a sense of campus culture and helps me find fun things to do that weekend. This weekend, one of my students is in a play, another is raising money for a charity through his fraternity, and another is in a symphonic band concert.

Moving forward, we watch a 10 minute video of David Jay, the founder of asexuality.org, give a TED talk. After the video plays, I ask the students if they have any initial reactions to the content. Both of my classes are often talkative, but just in case they aren’t, I always have a few questions prepared to keep the conversation going.

Today’s questions are:

  • What, for you, defines the difference between friendship and romance?
  • Do believe that “checking in” with friends like we do with romantic partners would strengthen friendships? Is it a feasible type of conversation to have?
  • What are some of the struggles that people who identify as asexual or aromantic might face? What does David Jay suggest we do to change the discourse around sexuality?
  • What is David Jay’s intended audience here? Do you think his approach to talking about asexuality was successful?

After filling the remaining 50 minutes with discussion, we close down the classroom for the day. A few students hang back to ask me (already) if I have graded their papers from Friday. No, students, I have not.

10 a.m.

I try to return graded papers about two weeks after they have been turned in, three weeks at most. This is enough time for me, in rare moments of organization, to grade three to five papers a day, or, in a more likely last-minute panic, grade all 50 papers in one weekend. There is a lot of green tea involved in this version of the process.

George’s office

At 10, I hold an office hour between my two classes. My office is only one floor above my first class, so the walk barely makes a dent in my Fitbit goal. I share an office with four other creative writers, though there are rarely more than two of us actually holding office hours at the same time. Coming from a job where I worked in a sea of cubicles, this crammed office is actually an improvement for me. I also really enjoy my office mates, so it’s great to socialize while I work.

I often use my office hour to grade, lesson plan or work on my own homework, even though it is technically an open hour for students to visit. Sometimes students will drop by asking for advice on their papers or looking for me to read over a draft.

11 a.m.

This is my second time teaching the same lesson plan that I detailed earlier. It’s great teaching two of the same classes back to back, and our English department does an excellent job making sure that the graduate students are always teaching the same class (i.e., I teach two sections of 103).

My second class of the day goes similarly to the first one, only after this class I was pleased to have one of my students stick behind to mention how glad they were that we talked about asexuality as part of my class. They explained that they really related to the video and that this was the first time that their identity has been talked about in class. I remember having this same moment as a student, but I had to wait until senior year until the first time I saw the word “transgender” on a syllabus. This quick chat between me and my student is, in all honesty, the reason I am thrilled to be doing what I do. My college professors had such an impact on me—they gave me courage and the power to view my world critically. If I can provide even a small amount of this to even just one of my students, then I have done my job.

12 p.m.

Lunch hour. The lunch facility closest to my office, has options like a Mexican grill, Chik-fil-a, and the bane of my existence, Papa Johns. But at least I can earn that personal pizza with a 15-minute walk, gaining a few ticks on my Fitbit.

1 p.m.

On Mondays, I actually have the rest of my afternoon free, again, another luxury my 9-5 never afforded me. Getting work done on my own time has its privileges, but more often it has its procrastinations. I usually get work done at my apartment since it is nearby, but sometimes I meet a friend at a local coffee shop so that we can commiserate together about the upcoming stresses of the week.

In the middle of the week, I use my afternoons to work private tutoring sessions to earn some extra income. With the graduate assistantship, I don’t have enough time to work a part time job (I tried working at a cafe for about a month, and very quickly realized the poor effects on my schoolwork), but working an extra three to four hours per week on private study sessions is the perfect balance for me.

5 p.m.

Because we are secretly waiting for Ball State to roll out an early bird discount, my friends and I get dinner on Mondays at 5 p.m. We have night class together, so eating a little bit earlier is convenient. We often go to one of the dining halls and try desperately to avoid any students asking us when we will have their papers graded (or maybe that’s just me). Here, huddled around one of the four-person wooden tables, there is gossip, there are sweet potato fries, and there is some last-minute finishing of the reading.

6:30 p.m.

Our graduate night class is called “Victorian Appetites,” and it is a literature course. Even though I am a creative writing major, taking two literature classes is a requirement. This class couldn’t be a better opportunity for me, as I am currently working on what I’m calling a “woke Victorian novel,” and studying the stylistic approach of Victorian writers has been incredibly inspiring. For this week, we have been assigned 300 pages of a fiction book and a critical reading of about 12 pages. The three-hour class is broken up into discussion, lecture and a second discussion lead by one of the graduate students in the class. We have also all uploaded 300 word responses to Blackboard that we can incorporate into discussion as well. It may sound like a lot of work, but since it is a once-a-week class, I’m able to split it up by doing a little bit each day.

9:30 p.m.

George enjoys grad school because he has more time to do what he loves, like writing.

Free at last! Monday is one of my later schedules and my only night class. Usually I am able to be off campus by mid-afternoon, but that doesn’t mean that my work is done. A lot of my time is spent working from home, but a large part of this may be because I live so close to campus. In the summer before graduate school, I remember talking to a current graduate student and saying, “I can’t wait to start school so that I can have more free time.” He laughed at me and then told me the details of his own schedule.

If I could go back in time, I would tell him that by “free time” I didn’t mean sitting around watching Netflix. To me, any time spent reading Victorian novels or editing a poem for Tues/Thurs poetry workshop is free time. It’s time to do what I enjoy most, and advance my career as a writer. Being a graduate student means putting in several hours of work per day; in fact, at times it may seem like all your “free time” is being eaten up by reading books, submitting stories and writing up critiques for your fellow students. I work long days, sometimes going 12 hours without a break, but sometimes my workdays end before 2 p.m. Coming from a job where my eight hours a day were spent doing things for someone else (running reports, taking phone calls and filing papers), I am so thankful to finally be doing work for myself again. During my work days, I am bettering my writing, I am understanding the nuances of critique, and I am honing my teaching skills.

That all being said, Monday nights are strictly reserved for some last minute edits to my poetry, and then tuning into the Real Housewives of Atlanta, a show among the highest art of our era. It’s been a long day; I think I deserve it!


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A Day in the Life of Jes Wade, a public administration graduate student

Howdy, howdy, howdy! My name is Jes Wade, and I am a full-time graduate student in public administration, full-time AmeriCorps VISTA and a part-time graduate assistant. I’m going to take you on a journey through my typical week: responsibilities, classes, and all the other random things I do throughout a given week. Before I start here’s a condensed list of what I do in a week: gym, food, work, class, homework, work.

Sunday:

I wake up around the same time each day, between 7:45 and 8 a.m. to make it to the gym or go for a run by 8:15 a.m. I’ve raced one full and three half marathons since July. I like to make fitness a priority. I generally spend 1-2 hours of my day here.

Sundays are my way to recover from all the craziness throughout the week and to prep for the craziness I’m about to endure. I start my day at the gym, find my way to the supermarket to buy groceries, then meal prep for the week. When I have time I start my readings for the week and finish up any last minute homework if I have any.

Monday:

I start my day at the gym, and after working out I hurry home and get ready for the day. Since I’ve already meal prepped for the week, I scoop up my belongings, and I’m on my way to the Boys & Girls Club between 10-11 a.m. where I work as an AmeriCorps VISTA (project coordinator). I typically spend 6-8 hours a day here to get my full-time hours. In this position I am responsible for nearly all aspects of our external communication ranging from weekly emails to donors, social media, weekly newsletters and more.

I’m typically leaving the Club anywhere between 5:30-7 p.m. depending on when I arrived. Throughout the week, I’m also assigned work for two professors in the Political Science Department, for my part-time graduate assistantship. I find time between all my activities to complete that work, as it’s typically work I can complete from home.

On Mondays I leave at 6 p.m. to make it to my Policy Analysis class at 6:30 p.m. In this Immersive Learning class we are attempting to tackle the issue of blight in the Muncie community. So far it’s been extremely interesting. My group is covering the awareness aspect of it.

By the time I get home (usually around 9 or 9:30 p.m.) I’m pretty pooped from the long day. My boyfriend, and I will generally pick out a movie and fall asleep on the couch by 11 p.m.

Tuesday:

Same start time for my day. I try and donate plasma at BioLife on Tuesdays and Thursdays for extra saving money. During this time I do weekly readings for my two classes. This generally takes about an hour, and afterword I’m on my way to work. On Tuesdays at the Club I work on our Club Connection, a newsletter for donors, parents and generally anyone interested in the Club.

After work I head straight to the Cardinal Kitchen food pantry where I am the unit director in charge of up keeping inventory and donations. This was an initiative I started through Student Government Association my senior year as an undergrad here at Ball State in 2014.

By 8 p.m. I am home and eating. By 9-9:30 p.m., I am heading to Trivia at the Chug, a bar not far from campus. Win or lose I’m usually snug in my bed by 11:30 p.m.

Wednesday:

Still waking up at the same time and hitting the gym. Still going to work at the Club. Still working on homework and readings. Wednesdays I have an online lecture class from 8-10 p.m. And you guessed it! I’m in bed around 11 p.m.

Thursday:

Still waking up and starting my day at the gym. Still going to work. About once or twice a month I have a Graduate School Ambassador meeting. On Thursdays I post our Club Connection to our website and prep our email that goes out to 5,000+ contacts for Friday morning. After work I have a standing group meeting. If we’ve decided we need to meet I attend the meeting, if not I head straight to BioLife. After that I have free time, by this point in the week I usually have little homework and readings to do. So I have smooth sailings until the weekend. Am I in bed around 11 p.m.? You betcha!

Friday:

Fridays are the same as Thursdays minus the BioLife donation and standing meeting. Fridays are nice because I finally get to relax.

Saturday:

Saturday is a rugby day (when rugby is in season). That’s generally the end of August to the beginning of November and mid-March to the end of April. If I don’t have a game I might be helping the Graduate School and the Political Science Department with an info session, or going to a different kind of competition—most recently I went to the NASPAA Food Insecurity Simulation in Indianapolis.

And that is my typical week, I tried to include most of what I do, but obviously I couldn’t type it all out. Here are a few cool things I’ve done or will do as a grad student.

In the upcoming weeks I’m going to:

  • A career advising appointment to look over my resume before I start applying to jobs like crazy
  • Travel to Nashville, Tenn., for a rugby tournament called NashBash
  • Purchase my graduate gown
  • Turn 24 next month!

In the past few weeks I have:

  • Enjoyed my first cruise. I went to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico
  • Saw “Get Out” opening weekend
  • Done a lot of shopping at Kohl’s

So I hope you have enjoyed this slight look into my life. There’s no such thing as a “typical” grad student, and no set path you have to take.


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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.


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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 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.