Financing Graduate School

Given how much of a monetary commitment graduate school is, it’s best to find as many financial resources as possible.

Financing your graduate education is one of the critical factors when considering a graduate program. You want to make sure that you are getting the most out of your investment. But often it’s hard to know where to begin and what options are available. Tennessee Tech has a number of resources for graduate students. While a student can pursue taking out a loan, there are other options, including:

Graduate Assistantships

Diversity Fellowship

Other Federal Student Aid Funding Resources

Below are some tips from University of Maryland graduate, Joe Oudin:

1. Start thinking about your graduate school finances early.

Before you even begin applications, you should understand what loans you already have and consider what your financial situation might look like as a graduate student. If you’re considering graduate school at the same institution you attended for undergrad, look for opportunities to get graduate credit while you’re still an undergrad. When I was an undergraduate senior, my university allowed me to take graduate courses that counted toward my master’s degree and saved me thousands in future tuition expenses.

2. Learn about the different types of federal aid for graduate students.

Your federal aid package will probably be different than what you were offered as an undergraduate. FAFSA4caster can give you an idea of what types of federal aid you will qualify for. Graduate students have a variety of federal student aid options and are considered independent on the FAFSA. Make sure you complete your FAFSA on time. You might have to complete it even before you know your admission status.

3. Seek funding opportunities at your particular university or graduate program.

Individual schools offer a variety of graduate funding options such as scholarships, graduate assistantships, and graduate fellowships. These are sometimes a more significant source of aid for graduate students than federal aid. When you’re trying to decide on a graduate program, make sure you compare the types of funding offered to students. Once you commit to a graduate program, proactively seek funding opportunities from your program or university.

4. Be proactive and stay on top of everything.

I enrolled in a graduate program at the same university as my undergraduate study, so I expected a smooth transition. A few weeks after I committed to my graduate program, I received a notification from the university saying I was ineligible for financial aid. After a moment of panic, I realized there was no way that this could be true. It turned out that there was confusion in the school’s computer system because I was enrolled as both an undergraduate and a graduate. The problem was easily fixed when I called my school’s financial aid office. Despite submitting my FAFSA and all other paperwork correctly and on time, I still ran into a few speed bumps. With grad school, it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure that everything is submitted correctly and to follow up when necessary. Being proactive can make the financial aid process go much more smoothly.

Source: https://blog.ed.gov/2016/07/financial-aid-tips-for-graduate-students/

Traveling During Grad School

If you’re a grad student, it’s easy to come up with reasons not to travel.

It costs a lot (and you’re low on funds). It takes time (and you have a thesis to write). If you’re a teaching or research assistant, it requires time off from work (and your supervisor might not approve). But in spite of these obstacles, there are distinct benefits to traveling while you’re still in graduate school. Here’s why you should make the effort.

You’ll make useful connections

When you’re getting an advanced degree, it can feel like you’ll be in school forever. But believe it or not, the day will come when you’re sprung from the warm embrace of academia and will need to find a place for yourself in the thrilling world of work. And when that happens, it is really, really helpful to have a wide-flung network of people who are willing to help you make connections and set you up with relevant opportunities. How to build this network? Go on wide-flung adventures and build a network of like-minded people all over the world. Just don’t forget to follow up with them on LinkedIn or other social media networks in order to maintain those connections after arriving back home.

You’ll learn valuable skills

In today’s globalized economy, employers are looking for workers who are capable of making cross-cultural connections and keeping the big picture in mind at all times. Traveling is a great way to expand these abilities while building on other employable skills such as creative thinking, adaptability and problem solving, the ability to work independently, a willingness to embrace risks, and/or speaking a foreign language. Traveling while in school has also been shown to improve learning outcomes overall.

You’ll gain real-world perspective

Time spent in the field—either as part of a formal education experience or independent travel—can expose you to different research methodologies, help you uncover new interests that may inform your personal and professional goals moving forward, and provide you with real-world context for your chosen field of study. It’s one thing to study the impact of European colonialism in Quito, Ecuador or apartheid in Johannesburg, South Africa; it’s quite another to witness the long-term ramifications with your own two eyes.

You’ll master the art of self-presentation

Remember those connections we referenced above? Making them provides an awesome opportunity to get comfortable telling other people what you do and what you’re all about. Traveling to academic or industry conferences is a particularly great way to practice these professional conversations. Not only can you try out your elevator speech, but you can do so with colleagues and experts in your chosen field. (Do it politely enough, and they might even be willing to give you a few pointers.) By the time you get to your first job interview, talking about your professional achievements will feel like a piece of cake.

You’ll relieve stress

The life of a grad student is packed with all kinds of stressors, from worrying about grades and dissertation reviews to fretting over your employment prospects come graduation. Traveling presents a great way to escape from these stresses and gain some much-needed rejuvenation so that you’re able to avoid burnout and finish your degree with your health—and future prospects—still fully intact. Whether you’re traveling to Miami or Moscow, try to build in time for some quality R&R.

In addition to the benefits listed above, there’s some evidence that traveling as a student is so beneficial it may even predict higher grades in school and higher incomes later in life. Regardless of whether you ever uncover a direct correlation between your adventures and your pay grade, it’s clear that traveling is a great way to promote your long-term personal and professional success.

 

Source: https://www.hipmunk.com/tailwind/why-you-should-still-be-traveling-in-grad-school/

Finding Housing in Cookeville

If you’re from out of town, it’s important to explore all of your housing options before deciding on a place to live.

Luckily, Cookeville is a really cheap place to find housing. According to this site, Cookeville’s cost of living is decently lower than the U.S. average. In addition, Cookeville’s housing costs are even lower, with an average of $526 rent for a 1-bedroom apartment. But it’s important to know what will suit you best.

On-Campus Housing

Some students choose to stay on-campus due to the convenience of location, safety, and low-maintenance upkeep. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited, and students who choose to stay over semester breaks can make special housing arrangements with an additional daily charge.

Residence Halls

Tennessee Tech has on-campus residence halls  with semester rates ranging from $2,525 for a 1 person room in a traditional hall to $4,795 for a double room as a single room buyout in the new halls.

Tech Village Apartments

Students can also choose to live in a Tech Village Apartment, which is designed to feel more like an apartment and less like a dorm room. The rates are also a bit cheaper than the residence halls, ranging from $1,370 for a two-bedroom split between 4 people to $5,480 for a two-bedroom for one person.

Finding Housing Off-Campus

Many students choose to live in apartments or houses off-campus due to the high availability of affordable options. It’s important to figure out what kind of place you’re looking for by determining your preferences:

  • Price range
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Proximity to campus
  • Pets/no pets
  • Smoking/non-smoking
  • Utilities included/not included in rent
  • Washer/Dryer hookups or laundry service availability
  • Roommates/no roommates
  • Furnished/unfurnished
  • Wi-fi/internet availability
  • Other preferences

The following are some resources available for Cookeville housing:

http://www.homes.com/rentals/cookeville-tn/

https://cookeville.craigslist.org/search/apa

https://www.trulia.com/for_rent/Cookeville,TN/

http://www.rentalguide.net/Rentals/TN/City/Cookeville/Listings.html

https://hotpads.com/cookeville-tn/houses-for-rent

https://www.apartments.com/cookeville-tn/

http://www.homesandland.com/For-Rent/Cookeville,TN/

https://www.rentjungle.com/cookeville-tn-apartments-and-houses-for-rent/

 

Fall 2017 – Spring 2018 Calendar

Fall 2017 – Spring 2018 Calendar PDF

Fall 2017  

Last Day for International Applicants to Apply for Fall 2017 Admissions April 1, 12am CDT
Last Day for US Applicants to Apply for Fall 2017 Admissions July 1
New Graduate Student Orientation (TJ Farr room 205) 
  
August 22, 
  2pm-5:00pm 
Advisement and Registration August 24-25
Classes Begin August 28
Late Registration Begins ($100 late fee) August 28
Last Day to Register/Add a Class September 3
Last Day to Drop without a Grade September 10
Last Day to Apply for Fall Graduation September 11
GRE Test Info. Workshop (Johnson Hall Auditorium Room 103) September 14

3pm-4:30pm

Thesis/Dissertation Workshop (Johnson Hall Auditorium Room 103) September 28

3pm-4:30pm

FALL BREAK October 16-17
College of Graduate Studies Info Session (for all undergrad & graduate students, 
RUC Tech Pride Room 101)
October 24, 11am-12pm
College of Graduate Studies Info Session (for all TTU employees, RUC Tech Pride Room 101) October 24, 12pm-1pm
College of Graduate Studies Info Session (for all undergrad & graduate students) October 26,

morning 11am-12pm

afternoon 3pm-4pm

Last Day to Report Results of Comprehensive Exam & Thesis/Dissertation Defense November 10
Advisement for Spring November 6-10
Last Day to Drop a Class and Receive a Grade of “W” November 10
Last Day to submit Exception Request to Walk in Commencement November 10
Last Day to Submit Final Thesis/Dissertation November 17
Last Day to Submit signed Thesis/Dissertation Certificate of Approval November 17
Preregistration for Spring Begins November 13
HOLIDAY – Thanksgiving – No Classes, Offices Closed (Nov 23-24) November 22-24
Last Day to Submit any other Forms/Memos required for Graduation December 1
Last Day to Remove “Incomplete” grades if Graduating in December December 1
Last Day to Submit Survey of Earned Doctorate (Ph.D. Students) December 1
Last Day of Classes December 8
Final Exam Week December 11-14
Graduation Rehearsal, 4:00 p.m. at Hooper Eblen Center December 14
Graduation

9:30 a.m. – College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Interdisciplinary 
Studies, Whitson-Hester School of Nursing 
2:00 p.m. – College of Agriculture and Human Ecology, College of Business and College 
of Education

December 16
Early Course Selection for State Employees Using Fee Waiver or PC 191 
and Disabled/Elderly Program Participants – SPRING
December 21

 

Spring 2018

Last Day for International Applicants to Apply for Spring 2018 Admissions October 1
Last Day for US Applicants to Apply for Spring 2018 Admissions November 1
Advisement and Registration January 11-12
New Graduate Student Orientation – 1:30pm-5:00pm January  11
Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday – No Classes January 15
Classes Begin January 16
Late Registration Begins ($100 late fee) January 16 
Last Day to Register/Add a Class January 22
Last Day to Drop Without a Grade January 29
Last Day to Apply for Spring Graduation (No Applications after this date) February 5
SPRING BREAK March 5-9
Advisement for Summer and Fall 2018  March 26-30   
Last Day to Drop a Class and Receive a Grade of “W” March 30  
Last Day to submit Exception Request to Walk in Commencement March 30
Preregistration for Summer & Fall Begins April 2 
Last Day to Report Results of Comprehensive Exam & Thesis/Dissertation Defense April 9
Last Day to Submit Final Thesis/Dissertation April 16
Last Day to Submit signed Thesis/Dissertation Certificate of Approval April 16
Last Day to Submit any other Forms/Memos required for Graduation April 23
Last Day to Submit Survey of Earned Doctorate (Ph.D. Students) April 23
Last Day to Remove “Incomplete” grades if Graduating in August April 27
Last Day of Classes April 27  
Final Exam Week April 30 – May 3  
Graduation Rehearsal, 4:00 p.m. at Hooper Eblen Center May 3
Graduation 
9:30 a.m. – College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Interdisciplinary 
Studies, Whitson-Hester School of Nursing 
2:00 p.m. – College of Agriculture and Human Ecology, College of Business and College 
of Education
May 5

 

Coming to Cookeville

 

What Makes Cookeville Great?

Many students find that after graduating from Tennessee Tech University, they want to stay in the area. But while it’s understandable to anyone who has lived here, an outsider may not understand what makes Cookeville such a great place to live. Below are just a few of the reasons.

A Variety of Landscapes

Cookeville Tennessee area is known as the Highland Rim area and Hub of the Cumberlands.  Anyone with a car can drive about fifteen to twenty minutes up the Plateau to Monterey, TN and Crossville, TN. Here there are bountiful Hardwood trees, bluff views, waterfalls, etc. If a more rolling landscape is preferable, a 10 minute drive south of Cookeville leads to Sparta, TN, which contains some of the most breathtaking rolling farmland along the way. Going North of Cookeville leads to Overton County, a place with bountiful rolling hills and mountain backdrops.

Conveniently Located

There are seven counties all within a 15 minute drive of Cookeville. In addition, it is only one hour east of Nashville, TN, two hours west of Knoxville, TN, and one and a half hours from Chattanooga, TN.  At a population of approximately 40,000 in the Cookeville or Putnam County area, residents get the ease of country living while excitement is close by.

Beautiful Lakes

Cookeville, TN is surrounded by three huge man-made lakes operating hydro-power by the Corp of Engineers, and provide breathtaking views, boating, fishing, camping, tournaments, and etc.  These lakes are Cordell Hull located in Smith County just outside of Nashville, TN and encompasses approximately 250+ acres. Next, Dale Hollow Lake is located near Celina, TN which borders Kentucky and is approximately 600 miles of shoreline. Dale Hollow is known for its bass tournaments and great fishing, camping and boating as well.  Center Hill Lake is located near Smithville, TN and south of Cookeville, TN.  Center Hill Lake has approximately 400 miles of shoreline and provides generous beaches, marinas, and lake fun! All of these lakes are nearby.

Affordable Cost of Living

With no state income tax, Low property taxes, and no personal property taxes, Cookeville residents find that their money goes further.  Home prices are very reasonable compared to other areas as well. Around campus, there are several options for affordable apartments or houses for student living.

Opportunities

While Cookeville is smaller, its central location between Knoxville and Nashville allows it to have a good amount of job opportunities. Some of the more technical jobs may require commuting to Oak Ridge or Nashville, but Cookeville’s affordability allows for flexibility during the job hunting season. In addition, Cookeville has an amazing medical center with an outstanding medical staff which regularly hires students within the medical field. Due to its growth, Cookeville will have more technical jobs that open up with the construction of new facilities, including a Solar Power Plant coming in 2018.

Four Seasons

Cookeville residents get to experience the four seasons of nature.  Spring blooms are breathtaking, summertime fun is generally pleasant without too much heat, autumn showcases the beautiful tree colors and mild temperatures, and winter is cold, but not too much in the way of deep snows or ice.  

Activities

From playing golf, rock climbing, spelunking, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, kayaking, boating, hiking, to shopping, painting, fitness, or community events, we have an abundance of things to do!

Source: http://activerain.com/blogsview/4287693/top-10-reasons-to-live-in-the-cookeville–tn-area-

What to Expect When Entering Graduate School

Image result for grad student

Let’s get this out of the way. Graduate school is different than college.

Getting a master’s degree or Ph.D. is a different experience than earning a certificate, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. Sure, all require you to attend classes taught by experienced professors, but that is the extent to which they are similar. Where undergraduate programs provide you with a basic foundation in your field of interest, a master’s degree or Ph.D. program builds upon that knowledge, allowing you to specialize within that field. Your work is more directed, and you are less supervised by professors who serve more as a guide and mentor than an undergraduate professor.

Because most class sizes are smaller, participation is especially important.

Having prior work experience can help immensely with the transition into life as a graduate student. Undergraduate students may complete an internship before the end of their senior year, if they plan on heading right to graduate school. Some people choose to wait a year or more after graduation to get their master’s degree so they can gain real world experience that will help them with their research.

So what exactly is it like to attend a master’s degree program? Expect to do a lot of reading in your graduate program, maybe more reading than you’ve ever done in your life. Keep up with it as best as you can. Do not expect to go to class and have a professor read an outline to you, detailing all information in the assigned reading. This practice is reserved for undergraduates who are just being introduced to the material for the first time. Rather, master’s degree and Ph.D. professors will conduct discussions on the topic, allowing room for questions, concerns and new ideas.

Higher Standards

Depending on your focus and the undergraduate school attended, your prior research paper assignments may have not been held to the strictest of standards. An acceptable graduate research paper will demonstrate more complex sentence structure and will be more scholarly in nature. Rather than answering a broad question, you will delve deeper to examine a small, but relevant aspect of the topic. With these research papers, you should expect more criticism from your professors and your peers. Learn from this criticism, and you are well on your way to becoming a successful graduate student.

Your research assignments should prepare you for your writing your thesis, or your final research paper required to get your master’s degree. Choosing a thesis topic can be seem overwhelming if you’ve never completed a project of that size. Keep in mind that successful thesis papers are written by organized, planned and dedicated students.

A graduate student is a leader and an independent thinker. Thus they must lead and fully participate in discussions and seminars. If they don’t understand a concept after class, they do not wait for someone to hand them the answer. They remain proactive in their education, trek down to the library and research to answer their question. The speed at which the internet can retrieve information is especially valuable for graduate students. Often students have links bookmarked to help them in their graduate studies. Because most class sizes are smaller, participation is especially important. Sometimes, you will have to support your thoughts and ideas during a discussion or debate.

Graduate School Research

Beyond the classroom, you will be sharing your research with others by presenting it at seminars and by having your papers published. Your research will culminate in writing a thesis or a dissertation. Don’t be modest or humble about your research. You never know who will be interested in it, and more importantly who is willing to partner with you to conduct it. For both research and class work assignments, reading and keeping up to date on the industries practices are important to having the most relevant research.

Networking is especially important at graduate school. It is here that you have the potential to form long lasting friendships and business partnerships. In graduate school, most networking is done at these seminars. Nobody is going to know what you are interested in, or what work you have done unless you present it. Networking is also common at an internship or apprenticeship completed while doing their graduate studies.

Life After Graduate School

Graduate students who already have a career, and were taking the degree program in order to advance in that career have less to worry about after graduation. However, those students in their last year of studies and do not have a job in their prospective field should begin their career search immediately. There’s some good news and some bad news when it comes to the job search. Bad news first: The search process is most likely going to take a while. The good news: If you keep your search diligent and focused, you should expect to land a full-time position.

Because of the still shaky state of the economy, some graduate schools have extended their career services to recent graduates who are having trouble securing a job. For example, in 2009, Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management assigned career advisers to each student at the beginning of the school year. By the end of the year, 95% were well on their way to starting their careers.

Source: http://www.campusexplorer.com/college-advice-tips/A2F79A64/What-to-Expect-From-Graduate-School/

 

New TTU Graduate Student Orientation

Welcome to Tennessee Tech University!

For those of you who are going to be graduate students here at Tech, this post if chock-full of resources to help guide you along the path of graduate school.

First of all, make sure to come to the New Graduate Student Orientation on August 22nd in TJ Farr Room 205 (2pm to 4:30pm).

There, you will not only be able to meet fellow grad students in the program, but you will also meet the faculty and staff who will help support you on your journey. The orientation is designed to help familiarize you to campus and academic resources as well as Cookeville as a whole. The following information covers all of the important links and reminders for new graduate students.

Checklist and Reminders for New Students

Things to Do

  1. Financial Aid: Make sure all paperwork is in order.
  2. Graduate Assistantship: Applications can be found at www.tntech.edu/graduatestudies/financial
  3. Student Email Account: Sign in, it’s the main method of contact by the university.
  4. Advisement: Contact the person listed on your Certificate of Admission.
  5. Register: Login to Eagle online and register for courses.
  6. Parking permit: Get a permit if you will be parking on campus.
  7. Complete Admission Requirements: If you lack any requirements for admission, it will be indicated on your Certificate of Admission. All admission requirements must be meet by the end of the first semester or a registration hold will be placed on your account.
  8. Advisory Committee: Start thinking about which faculty members you want.
  9. Forms: Go to the Graduate Studies website and click on the FORMS link and familiarize yourself with the forms we have available.
  10. International students: Check in with the International Education office.

Things to Be Aware of

  1. Permissible Loads: There are limits in some situations.
  2. Grades: Know what grades are required to avoid dismissal or probation.
  3. Program of Study and Admission to Candidacy forms: You’ll need to file one by the end of the semester in which you will earn 15 credit hours of graduate level courses. Failure to turn in your program of study by this time will result in a registration hold.
  4. Admission to Candidacy: Find out what the process is for your degree.
  5. Changes: Learn how to make changes and the proper forms to use.
  6. Degree Completion Time Limits: Six consecutive years to complete a master’s or specialist in education; eight consecutive years to complete a doctorate.
  7. Comprehensive Exam: Learn about your department and degree’s comprehensive exam (when, where, and how).
  8. Thesis/Dissertation: TTU has a specific format for theses and dissertations. Attend a workshop before you begin writing.
  9. Graduation: You must apply for graduation in the semester you plan to complete your degree. All applications are due by the published deadline posted on our Graduate Student Calendar by semester.

Other Academic Links:

Graduate Student Handbook

Student Affairs

Graduate Student Calendar

Graduate Studies Faculty Contact Info

Tennessee Tech News

Campus Resources

Campus Map

Tennessee Tech Library

Health Services

Dining Options

Fitness Center

Cookeville Links

Restaurants

Recreation

Map of Cookeville Recreation

Cookeville Events

GRE Information and Study Tips

 Image result for GRE Study

Most graduate programs require taking the GRE (Graduate Record Exam)

Every year, more than 700,000 people take the Graduate Record Exam, commonly known as the GRE. While the test is similar in many ways to its college-entrance cousin, the SAT, there are some important differences.

Unlike the SAT, the GRE is most commonly taken as a computer-adaptive test

This means there’s no need for a No. 2 pencil and those all-too-familiar bubble sheets. On the computer-based test, the difficulty of the questions is based on the accuracy of your answers to previous questions. The better you perform on the first sets of 20 verbal and quantitative reasoning questions, the harder the next sets of 20 questions will be.
The GRE is broken down into three primary components: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing

For the verbal reasoning section, test takers have two 30-minute periods to answer two sets of 20 questions

Test-takers answer two sets of 20 quantitative reasoning questions, with 35 minutes to answer each set. The analytical writing section consists of two essays, for which test takers get 30 minutes to write each. The verbal and quantitative reasoning sections are graded on a 130- to 170-point scale in 1-point increments, and the analytical writing section is scored on a 0-6 scale in half-point increments.

Having a good SAT/ACT score and GPA don’t ensure that tackling the GRE will be a simple task

The GRE doesn’t necessarily test on a student’s knowledge or aptitude. Rather, it tests students on how well they can take the GRE. Therefore, there are specific things that students need to focus on in order to do well on the test.
Below are six surefire studying tips for the GRE:

1. Go back to high school

Having trouble differentiating your X-axis from your Y? Have too many late nights in college wiped away the important teachings of Pythagoras? You’re not alone. Many GRE test takers are many years removed from the basic tenets of high school math, which play an important part in the quantitative section of the test. If you’re rusty, it’s important to revisit the concepts of algebra and geometry that you learned in high school.

“Algebra and geometry are assumed background knowledge in college courses, and you will be hard-pressed to find a class to take at that level [that] will prepare you directly for questions of this type,” says Eric Reiman, a GRE tutor with Creative Tutors. “If you’re preparing for the GRE alone, a text like Algebra for Dummies or Geometry for Dummies could be a great help, and both come with example problems to work.”

2. Sleep with your dictionary

While the GRE’s quantitative section is not much more advanced than the math found in the SAT—and familiarity with concepts learned in high school should be enough to post a decent score—the verbal section went to college and graduated with honors in English. Test takers who slept through their English classes or turned to SparkNotes may be in trouble.

During your time in school, be sure to read as much as possible to expand your vocabulary so that you can decipher unfamiliar words, testing experts say. You can assimilate far more diverse vocabulary over four years of college than you could ever hope to by cramming for a few weeks or months prior to the GRE.
“As a successor to the SAT, the GRE uses adult words that aren’t found on the SAT,” says Reiman. “It is extremely important for success on the qualitative sections of the GRE to be well read.”

3. Take a GRE prep course (if you can afford it)

According to Andrew Mitchell, director of pre-business programs at Kaplan Test Prep, the GRE is designed specifically to differ from areas of study in college and is supposed to be a measure of a college graduates’ critical thinking skills, not necessarily what they learned in school.

No matter how much cramming you might’ve done in college or how stellar your grades were, thinking critically might not come naturally. The tutoring classes tend to pay off, but are a sizable investment. Kaplan’s instructor-led classes cost more than $1,000 for about eight on-site sessions. Twenty-five hours of private GRE tutoring with Kaplan can cost roughly $3,000.

“It’s worth investing some time and money in preparing for the GRE,” says Mitchell. “Critical thinking is something that’s hard to change overnight because it’s such a lifelong skill. We try to help people unlock their critical thinking skills by getting more familiar with the test and more familiar with proven methods.” Another option for building critical thinking that’s a little easier on the checkbook is using the free resources on the Educational Testing Services (ETS) website. Sample questions and essay responses, advice, and scoring guides are available online from the folks who created the GRE.

4. Take a practice test

While your vocabulary may be impeccable, your writing skills polished, and your quantitative abilities sharpened to a razor’s edge, none of that matters if you’re unaccustomed to the test’s unconventional format.

“To walk into this test unprepared, to sit down [and take it] having never done it before is suicide,” notes Neill Seltzer, national GRE content director for the Princeton Review. Educational Testing Service, the Princeton Review, and Kaplan all have free computer adaptive tests online that help simulate what is a foreign experience to many.

“It’s different from the SAT, and that really threw me off the first time,” says Amy Trongnetrpunya, who earned a perfect score on the quantitative section of the GRE after scoring poorly on her first try. “The computer-adaptive practice exam really helped.”

5. Don’t like your score? Take it again

Schools have access to any GRE scores for tests you’ve taken in the last five years, but experts claim that many universities only care about the best one. While this isn’t true for all schools and all programs, many universities pull the highest scores from the GRE ticket they receive from ETS. The admissions officials (and sometimes work-study students) who receive the tickets are the first line of defense, and oftentimes, they record only the top score when they’re compiling your file before sending it up the admissions food chain. “Even though ETS will report every score, the person reading that file and making the admissions decision may only see the highest math and highest verbal,” says Seltzer.

6. Take a tough English course

Even if you aren’t an English major and don’t plan on writing the next great American novel, honing your writing skills is integral to overall success on the GRE. The two essays in the analytical section take up roughly one third of the time test takers are allotted. Some testing experts argue that near the end of college you should take a high-level English or writing course. While enduring a high-level writing course might put a small dent in the GPA (and ego) of non-English majors, it is an immense help when it’s time to crank out two timed essays on the pressure-packed GRE.

“I would emphasize taking a few rigorous English and writing college courses, in addition to test prep, to best prepare yourself for the caliber of questions you’ll find on the GRE,” says Alexis Avila, founder and president of Prepped & Polished, a Boston area-based college counseling and tutoring firm.

Source: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2012/04/30/test-prep-6-tips-for-gre-success

TTU PhD Student Researches Opioids in Wastewater


Faranak Mahmoudi is an Environmental Sciences-Chemistry PhD student studying the detection and measurement of opioid compounds in urban wastewater and surface water. The rate of consumption of opioid painkillers in Tennessee is higher than the national average, so there is an urgent need for research in this area. By determining the concentration of opioid compounds in untreated wastewater, it is possible to back-calculate the measurements to accurately quantify the intake of drugs by the local population. Faranak is using multiple analytical approaches in the lab to determine the molecular structure of the opioids in solution. Faranak recently presented her work at the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) national meeting in Philadelphia as well as at the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the ACS in Columbia, South Carolina.

Five Things I Wish I Knew About Graduate School


Recently, people have been asking for advice about going to grad school and careers after college. So I usually just share what I wish I’d known before embarking on my grad school journey. Here are my top five things:

1. The atmosphere from undergrad to graduate school is a complete change of pace.

Coming into my graduate career I somewhat expected it to be an extension of undergrad. I imagined there would be more responsibilities, but never in a million years would I have thought the next step would be what it has become…life-changing.

My future depends on the success of my research project, and I am in sole control of the direction and flow of the project. Having that amount of leeway is a different, if not scary, feeling, but with a little bit of luck and opportunity, everything can go well. There is a particular emphasis on finding your success through this part of the journey; finding what makes you happy and progresses you, because success is personal, not standardized. Understanding that concept initially took some time.

2. Everyone is a superstar, some more than others.

In my undergraduate university, I felt like a big fish in a little pond. I thought I was doing everything right and that what I was achieving was monumental. I started my graduate career, and I immediately became the little fish in the biggest pond I’ve ever seen! Everyone here was just like me. Some had backgrounds that were way more extensive than mine.

The intimidation factor is intense at times, but the journey is not theirs to walk, it is yours (or rather mine in my case). Embrace and strengthen what you bring to the table, and use it to progress your success while enhancing and refining your skills. Think of it has having a wealth of resources at your disposal, and all you need to do is ask the right people for the right information.

3. Failures are the biggest lessons.

Learning through failure is a must. Undergraduate studies concentrate on learning through the success, while professional/graduate school flips the script. From that perspective, it is hard to really concentrate and think that you are making progress if the ultimate result the majority of the time is failure. The key lies in learning the details in why the ultimate result was a failure instead of concentrating on the fact that it did fail. Which leads to…

4. Flexibility and adaptability is a must.

The quicker you learn these different lessons, the easier time you will have adjusting to achieving your goal. Life at this stage is no longer linear, and there are multiple solutions to a problem that could be posed at that moment. Understand this, and things will eventually become easier to handle. Yes, I’ve had months and months of failed experiments, but what do I know now?

5. What you put into it is really what you get out of it.

This is just another stepping stone in life that gives you ultimate control over your future. Everything you do today, prepares you for tomorrow, either positively or negatively. Take advantage of those moments for learning, those moments where you have to be flexible, those moments of clarity, and better yourself. You don’t get many shots to better yourself before it starts to count, and this is one of the few times you can take advantage of that. The investment is worth it.

Besides, who wouldn’t want the chance to practice finding and being a better you?

Courtesy of the Northwestern University blog.