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 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 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


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Grad student’s creativity, passion for teaching earns him Graduate Assistant of the Year award

Joshua Barkley, right, accepts the Graduate Student of the Year award for 2015-2016 from Nancy Prater, left, director of marketing and communications for Online and Distance Education.

Joshua Barkley, right, accepts the Graduate Student of the Year award for 2015-2016 from Nancy Prater, left, director of marketing and communications for Online and Distance Education.

Ball State University offers graduate assistantship positions for nearly 1,000 students on campus each year. And every year from that pool of students, one is chosen to receive the Graduate Assistant of the Year award. Joshua Barkley, this year’s winner, used his expertise and passion for plants as a teaching assistant to help students learn and retain information.

“It is truly an honor to win and I am proud to have been associated with such a wonderful university,” Barkley wrote in a post on LinkedIn about receiving the award. “I would also like to thank all those involved in surprising me with this award and bringing in my family to help celebrate.”

Barkley is now a landscape designer with GPD Group in Columbus, Ohio, after graduating from Ball State in May with a master’s in landscape architecture. During his three-year tenure as a teaching assistant in various plants classes, he left his mark not only on his students, peers and faculty, but his designs can also be found in the area. He had a hand in the design of the Yorktown gateway project that welcomes travelers exiting Interstate 69.

In the classroom, Barkley was well-liked by students and always eager to help, said Susan Tomizawa, the instructor in the department for whom Barkley worked. Barkley’s undergraduate studies in horticulture and design at Purdue University were a major asset to his students. He combined that in-depth knowledge with personal stories and anecdotes to help students make connections to the information.

“One trait that stands out is his ability to make learning interesting, and one in which I, myself, have taken lessons from,” Tomizawa wrote in her nominating letter.

Tomizawa said Barkley helped student identify plants using imagery, stories and associations.  

“I enjoy hearing students repeating, sometimes several months later, the techniques that Josh has used to help them remember large quantities of information,” Tomizawa wrote.

He lead hikes on campus and through nearby landscapes looking at trees, shrubs and perennials to teach students how to identify them by bark, leaf and bud. In the weeks leading up to finals — when the weather could produce cold, snow or freezing rain — he would accommodate requests for additional refresher hikes.

His dedication and professionalism inside the classroom and beyond made him an asset to the department. He took a difficult project in Fishers last year, approaching the challenge with patience and diligence, and has also encouraged other Purdue University students to consider a graduate degree at Ball State, said Jody Rosenblatt Naderi, director of the landscape architecture graduate program. Some have chosen to follow in Barkley’s footsteps and will begin their studies in the fall.

It’s clear from the praise Barkley received in several nominating letters, his presence has made an impact within his cohort of graduate students, the faculty with whom he has interacted and the students he instructed.