How to Navigate Grad School

So you have decided you want to try your hand at grad school? As a semi-graduate from a Masters Degree, I feel that I finally have the expertise to tell others about my experience (and those around me).


Here are a few things you need to be aware of:

Fellow Students: They will be just as confused as you are, especially when it comes to figuring out contracts, funding, conflicting office opinions. You may have lots of friends when you start grad school, but none are like your classmates because they will all be going through the same mental breakdowns as you.

Office Environment: you are not like the other students in your department but you are also not really faculty- which can make it hard to fit in.

The Department: I am a firm believer in that you make what you get out of your supervisor and the other resources in your department. However, in some cases, some supervisors are hard to deal with. They go missing for months, they don’t offer any support, or they offer too much.

Office Admin: they are able to do a lot for you, so make sure you make friends with them.

Thesis: you won’t want to start early, but you really should because last-minute writing sucks. The page number itself causes initial shock, but following a self-made timeline is the second.

Research: it won’t mean much, despite what you think when you are first asked to choose a thesis topic.

Graduating: You will be overqualified for the job market but underqualified for any PhD program.

Well, I hope this semi-sarcastic take on graduate school didn’t completely deter you from ever wanting to seek further education and if you are starting grad school I wish you luck!

B.

An Interview With My Best Friend

This week I figured I’d let someone else do the work for me. She is fierce, fabulous and made of tin….she is my closest friend…

….she’s a trash can!

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well, not really… but close. This week is a small interview with my best friend: Christina!


B: How did we meet?

C: Is it bad that I genuinely don’t remember the first time we actually met? I feel like it was in passing in a hallway. What I DO remember is meeting for a coffee or dinner one day and after another friend bailed we bonded over our shared distaste for… Well, people. Or am I totally off? Lol memory is not one of my strengths.

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B: Favorite memory together?

C: We have so many awesome memories together. It feels like I could pick anytime we went out to a club or just hung out and went for a drive. Two that come to my mind right away is the time we went for a drive with Karim and Fady because we were all trying to procrastinate. Another is when we recently staked out a neighborhood for a good 30 minutes because there were a million firetrucks around and we wanted the tea.

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B: Favorite thing to do together?

C: Drive around, blast music and just talk about whatever. You’re also a great person to party with, obvs. And watching YouTube videos of trash people or drag queens is fun too.

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B: Do you have any hobbies or special skills?

C: Lol I mean, I am a queen in general so take ur pick amirite. One special skill that is specific to me is my keen ability to spend money I don’t have haha.

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B: What do you like about me?

C: Nothing. Next question. Just kidding. You’re funny, straight-forward, and in general, a really supportive friend. You never fail to make me feel like I’m important in your life, and I think it’s hard to find people like that? Also, we like the same garbage.

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B: What’s your least favourite thing about me?

C: You’re not an overly generous billionaire. You didn’t like sushi for like, the first 3 years that I’ve known you. You think my UGGs are trash.

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B: That’s because they are… and if I had more than a dime to my name I’d share. Anyways, who are three of your female heroes?

C: Amy Poehler, Emilia Clarke, and Banks. I feel like I’m missing some very obvious candidates but whatever. All women are great. (Except you Melania and Ivanka, don’t get it twisted)

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B: When you were little what did you want to grow up to be?

C: Hahahahahahah. A singer.

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B: Jeans vs leggings?

C: Jorts

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B: Really? I expected you to say “Jeggings” haha. But in all honesty, why are you so amazing?

C:

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B: so you think you are amazing then?


There you have it, an in-depth, revealing interview with my best friend. So glad we bonded over our failed friendship with someone else <3

B.

Back to School as Told by Dwight Schrute.

Dwight Schrute is my favourite character from NBC’s the Office, and it just happens that his character exemplifies how I feel about going back to school.

So summer is almost over….

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…and you have to decide which of your personalities to introduce yourself with.

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When your professor starts sending emails before school starts.

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When you have to introduce yourself to the class.200_s-4

When you manage to have no 8ams.

 

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When there are sales on school supplies.

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When your professor assigns readings assigned before the class starts.

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When homecoming is around the corner.

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Ignoring your problems like

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But overall school means you get to see your friends again.
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Good luck! -B.

A Letter to My 17-Year Old Self.

At the age of 17 I moved out, went to university and experienced the largest change in my life yet. Now I am 22. And I feel like I have 5 years worth of experience to reflect on.


 

Dear Brittany,

For starters, Moving out makes you scared and unsure. You are going to university as the next step in your life because you don’t really know what you want to do. And that is okay.

However, you may not like what you thought you did, and you may learn that you did things for the entirely wrong reasons. (Like picking a program because even though you did poorly in it in high school, you really enjoyed it.)

Things aren’t as easy as they are in high school. Your life isn’t mapped out for you and motivation is a process you need to learn.

You will be able to meet lots of people and make many new friends. They won’t all be a good fit, but compared to the small town you are from, it is a lot easier to move around the people you don’t get along with.

OH and money, it may seem like the scholarships are ever flowing, but they are not. So perhaps try and save a bit of money while you are at it. Loans add up, and you don’t want to be the sorry sack of shit (me) that didn’t save a dime for/in school.

Also, parties come and go, you won’t be forgotten because you missed a party and decided to stay in. Nor should you feel left out or regret it. You need to take time to yourself and relax, but also get work done. It won’t do itself and if you are deciding between doing an assignment or going out to the pub, you may be better off at home.

Don’t rush things, your time at school is short and it will fly by, don’t constantly wish yourself to be past this stage of your life because eventually you will find that you wished those years away. University is safe and you should enjoy each step as you are experiencing them. (Live in the moment??)

Overall, despite the unease, you will make your way through school and all you need to do is take a leap of faith and trust that even if your life doesn’t go where you thought it would, you will find your way.

Experiences make you strong, so have no regrets.

-Brittany

14 Things Students Don't Know About Their TAs

…a TA, otherwise known as a teacher’s assistant, an educator’s assistant, or that person who is paid to get treated like shit.

Well as a student, you may feel like you are able to get away with just about everything, but you’d be surprised just the amount that your TA knows, as told by a TA herself. Ranked most obvious to least obvious.


  • We can tell you changed the margin spacing on your paper.
  • …or oversized your periods.
  • …or your incorrect use of APA or MLA (or *insert student name* style citations)
  • We OBVIOUSLY can see your 2.5 spacing instead of 2. WE HAVE EYES.
  • Your “interpretation” that is clearly a quotation and should be cited. (ahhh, low-key plagiarism, always nice)
  • What you are looking at in seminar. (If you are laughing at your crotch, 10 chances to 1 you are one your phone)
  • When you spell your TA’s name wrong, forget their name or what they look like all together.
  • When they ask you to be quiet in lecture and you keep talking.
  • …or that you take to your phone/laptop to complain about us. (don’t get me wrong, a better alternative, but it makes you a shitty person)
  • If you never do the readings. The only people you are dumb enough to fool are your fellow classmates.
  • When you ask for questions from the exam…???
  • That your TAs don’t know each other, and that when you complain about one TA it won’t get back to the other.
  • That we don’t have code names for you all. (i.e. Clicker girl)
  • That we drink copious amounts of alcohol to deal with your shit.

They say being a TA is a rewarding experience, and it is. Aside from all the emails from students who never talked in seminar but feel they deserve a better grade, or the late submissions with no excuses and the back talk from the ones who don’t think you do enough… ya… it’s great.

fireelmo

B.

Grad School So Far

Hello again.

It has been a while since I have found myself inspired to write anything here. But as my first semester of grad school is wrapping up, I finally have something to say.

There have been many days where I am exhausted and I get home when it is dark out and day is over. There are days where I may not have to go to school at all. I have met and been able to study with six amazing new people and study under many more. I got the opportunity to write my major research paper with a professor who I sincerely respect and admire.

I drank too much alcohol, and too little water. I have made mistakes and procrastinated, but I also made amazing memories. I have a great family who stands behind me and supports me in the pursuit of knowledge and academia. I have begun a study in something I am extremely interested in, but equally know that in a few years it will be just another page in the book.

There are many different illnesses I have diagnosed myself with, and many days I was too sick to get out of bed. My diet got significantly worse, consisting almost entirely of ramen and instant rice.

My bank account is depleted, but my soul is full. For the nights spent at the cafe or the pub with friends, drinking lattes or chugging beers while marking papers and studying for classes.

Grad school has not diversified my existence, but made me more comfortable in the life I am living. In the stressful, high-paced environment I have found contentment, and I am ready for what is to come.

B.