Week 2 Grad School: Time to Reorganize

Week 2 back to school and I still haven’t gotten in the swing of things.  I am starting to feel stressed out, which is miserable, even though I know I shouldn’t be already. I am doing great in my classes so far (week 2 how could I being doing bad). I have already had 7 quizzes in 2 classes and Aced all of them. I have made my first book in my book arts class. Plus I am finally ahead of some things in research.  So what could I be struggling with, check out the list below!

What I am still trying to figure out:
  1. The best way to keep all my stuff organized
  2. Packing for lunch and dinner plus snacks
  3. How to fit in working out while I am at school
  4. How to handle being at school most days from 8am-6pm (9pm on Mondays and Tuesdays).
  5. On top of this I have a goal to submit some internship applications for the spring , turn in abstracts for conferences, and get my graduate school applications done asap.

So in order to get back into school mode, I will be working on each one of these and posting my ideas to fix each problem and then I’ll share how they actually worked out.

For Post 1 on how I need to get back into school mode, lets tackle problem 1. I need to get organized!!!!

How I am going to get organized:
Made a To Do list that stays the screen. Plus keep my planner up-to-date
organized

Keep a ‘Rough’ Version of things that I have to get done on a Legal Pad (Inspiration and Image from The College Prepster)
To-Do Lists Legal Pads

Sort through the and downsize the 6 notebooks/folders I currently have
notebooks

Downsize the amount of extra stuff I carry with me everyday
randomcrap

Finally, I am in the process of looking for a new bookbag to buy. One that is large enough for me to cut out carrying a purse and one that will be useful for holding everything for my long days at school. If you have any recommendations, please leave me a comment!

Graduate School Life (First Year)

So this post will reflect some of the things I have figured out during my first year as a graduate chemistry student at WCU. Some of them to me I feel dumb for not knowing and some of them I wish I would have figured out earlier! Overall my first year (and first half of Summer 2013) has been filled with awesome memories, interesting classes and even more amazing people!  So here it goes!

  • Life as a teacher (of labs) is not as exciting as I would have thought. Sure I enjoyed teaching the Chem 139 lab , both semesters, but at times I did not look forward to it ( mainly when final grades were due). I never imagined a student complaining about a final grade of a 98.4 and I never thought I would have a student try to skip out midway through lab! I did think that teaching these labs would inspire more people to want to study chemistry, but I was also wrong, they were just very glad to be done with it FOREVER!
  • Figuring out my research was not as easy !!!! It took me about 3 weeks after hearing all the professors research talks to finally decide on who I wanted to work with. Then after talking with him (and the other students who knew more about him) I thought about jumping ship and going into a topic that was something that I didn’t feel passionate about. I am glad that I didn’t, I stuck with the original professor that I wanted to work with ( even with his warning and the others).
  • Life could have been easier if I would have just went straight to working. This is something that I had considered before coming to WCU, just get a job, work and begin to pay off school loans. This was an idea in my head simply because of a amazing internship and company that I worked for during a summer. I thought apply there, get a job, and work ( that is if I got a job). But in the end I know that I LOVE school and I really wanted to be able to figure out my area in chemistry!
  • Follow what you think will interest you, no matter how off-the-wall   it may sound. As you have gathered I am hopefully going into the field of Art Conservation or Historic Preservation ( mainly material identification) after this and chemistry  is a amazing tool set to have in these fields. I want to study/ live in amazing places and be able to explore, so these fields fit perfectly. These areas are also something that I am interested in because it isn’t the typical (organic, medical, nano, bio) chemistry that is generally though of, it is truly something different ( or atleast in my mind it is ).
  • Last but not least, enjoy your time here. There are classes, labs and research that needs to be done, but if all you do is that then life gets dull. The first semester I had slightly enjoyed my time here, but was still in the I am new here phase. The spring semester was drastically different! I went out with some other students, took ceramics ( I was horrible at it) and also began to make sure that every week had some “fun” time in it. I really learned how to better balance classes, teaching, failing research, studying, and going out time. Graduate school is different then undergrad, you have less classes and more responsibilities, but it is still college!

Overall, I love being a graduate student (which is why I will be hopefully going to another program after this) . It has allowed me to develop my research skills, my chemistry knowledge, and find a field that I am passionate about. So if you are ever thinking about grad school, I say go for it and don’t think twice about it!

 

How you feel in grad school!

How you feel in grad school!

Finding the Right Graduate Program…

So when I started my search for a Chemistry Graduate Program, I had no idea what to do. Now I am again on the search for a graduate program, this time in Art Conservation or Historic Preservation!  So this being my second time around  I feel drastically more prepared and wish that I would have known all of this stuff  the first time. So here is a list of some helpful hints for searching/finding a graduate program!

  1. Start early!!! I wish that I would have done this the first time, because before you can believe it’s deadline season! This means that you need to finish up all you personal statements,online applications, CV/Resume,  somehow get you professors to submit your recommendation letters, and submit your GRE scores  and transcripts. This all takes tons of time and effort, so the earlier you start the better.
  2. When you think you have found a program that interest you ( hopefully over the summer or early fall) email the advisor and/or  professor in the area that interests you. Why do this? Well I have had a few occasions where I think a program sounds amazing and that it would fit what I want to do, but then I never heard back from them after my email to them about the program. Now this may be harsh, but I know now that any program that doesn’t have time to email me back is a program that I wouldn’t apply to. My reasoning for this is that I want to go to a program that will care/help/ give advice to me along the way and if they don’t have time to email a prospective student back then how will it be if I go there.
  3. If you have a chance go to a conference during the Fall (right before applications are due) , make sure and go to it. For me this was the Regional ACS in Richmond, VA (Oct 2011). During the conference they had a graduate fair there with tons of schools  with information, students, and professors that were more than willing to answer your questions about their program. When your done talking to them (if the program sounds promising) make sure to get a business card with the professors email address, then make sure to email them within a few days of the conference ending. This will get your name remembered by one of the professors at the school there and could possibly improve how your application looks when applying to that school. Why is this? You were at a conference (always good because this means you probably had a poster presentation or a talk), you are now a person and not just a application, and lastly you showed that you were interested in the program !
  4. My final suggestion is before sending out your applications and spending all of your money, try and visit the school if you live close by. I plan on doing this over my Fall break and venturing 4ish hours to visit a school that I am interested in. This to me is always the best way to really get a feel if you would like it there and is also a way to talk with students about how it is in the program. For me this is also a time to talk to professors about my interests ( I want to stay in the lab doing research) and a way for professors to see if you would fit in the program. This is a great final step to do if you think that you have found a program and are planning on applying!

Now with all this advice, start your search now for your program and have good luck with applications!!!

Hope this helped!!

-Caitlyn