What to Expect When Entering Graduate School

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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 15th in Johnson Hall Auditorium Room 103 (1pm 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



Map of Cookeville Recreation

Cookeville Events

GRE Information and Study Tips

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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.

Reasons to Go Back to College

Consider these excellent reasons for why you should go back to college and start (or finish) that graduate degree you have always wanted.

Flexible And Distance Learning Are More Common and Accepted

Most reputable universities now offer classes or full degrees online. Night classes or hybrid programs (that are partially online and partially on campus) are also very common, and so there is likely some arrangement that can accommodate your busy schedule.  TTU offers many programs online including our MBA, PSM in Environmental Informatics and PSM in Manufacturing Sustainability, MPS in Healthcare Administration, MS in Computer Science, and MS in Sports Management.

You Want a Promotion

In today’s world, college degrees are simply necessary for many job opportunities, and there might come a time when your current education level prevents you from climbing the corporate ladder any further. For example, if you really want a promotion to a position that requires a college degree, you will need to go back to college in order to advance your career. Many companies are willing to pay partly or in full for the continuing education of their employees.

You Want to Change Careers

Another excellent reason to go back to college is if you want to change careers. Wanting to work in a different field and occupation can be an extremely smart career move that can result in you having a higher income and better job satisfaction. Life’s just too short to be stuck doing something you don’t enjoy. If you really want to pursue your dream, getting the right education to be hired into your new field is essential, as are any transferable skills and experiences you’ve had in your career, because that’s what you’ll have to focus on to catch an employer’s attention.

You Want an Advanced Degree

If the career you have in mind generally requires an advanced degree, then at some point you will have to make the leap to go back to college. This can be very difficult if you’ve been out in the workforce for a while to save up money after graduating with your bachelor’s degree, but if your heart’s set on becoming a doctor or a college professor, you’re going to have to take that plunge eventually. If this is truly the path you want in life, you won’t regret shooting for higher things.

Many Professors are Accommodating

Professors want to see you learn and succeed. So don’t be tepid about going back to college because you’re afraid your life will get in the way of your learning and the college won’t be understanding. Professors are usually willing to grant exceptions and extensions for students who work or have children, so long as you are making an effort and do complete the work. All you have to do is ask. Colleges also have many support programs for graduate students.

Bottom Line

Make no mistake, going back to college is a major decision to make. But in many cases it is the right one, and you have a lot of allies to help you make it through. Between more prevalent convenient learning options, schools and professors being accommodating and companies that want to invest in their employees, it’s a more obtainable goal than ever. So be sure to explore your options and make the best choice for your future.

 Source:  Lizzie Weakley and theCampusCareerCoach.com

What Does it Take to be a Graduate Student?

Graphic of Program Sheet  Find out what it takes to be a graduate student by attending a Graduate Studies Information Session! Each semester we help you get ahead with your application by hosting an event that keeps you in the know about graduate school.  

   This month Graduate Studies representatives and several graduate students will be available to talk to you, one on one, about available programs, application processes, financial assistance, and overall admission. You’ll also find out how long it takes to get a a degree and what GPA may be required.

   Two sessions will be available: March 30th from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and another will be hosted at 3 p.m.. The sessions will take place in Johnson Hall Auditorium, remember, snacks and prizes will be available during the session!

   Can’t attend a session, no problem! Our office is always open to perspective students who have questions about their future career as a graduate student. Our office is in Derryberry Hall 306 or you can call us at 931-372-3233!

Being a Tennessee Tech Graduate Student: Shree Krishna Dangal

In part three of our series “Being a Tennessee Tech Graduate Student,” Shree Krishna Dangal, a recent MBA graduate from Nepal, provides his perspective.

The dream that I nurtured during my undergraduate study has grown along with me and I always hoped to see it turn into reality someday. Therefore, in order to comprehend myshree-krishna-dangal-certificate dream of becoming a successful team leader, I intend to pursue the MBA degree, realizing that my career goals of leading teams would be best facilitated Human Resources specialization. Besides, I always wanted to learn skills which would place me in an international corporation allowing me to work and live abroad.

The realization did not come easily, but the road I have taken makes me more certain that joining a business school is the right decision, and College of Business at Tennessee Technological University (Tennessee Tech) is undoubtedly the right school for me.

Tennessee Technological University consists of people from around the globe. The feature that attracted me to College of Business the most is the college was its accredited by AACSB International. Based on the quality of programs and survey feedback from students, the college has been included in Peterson’s Publication of Best 300 Business Schools, which also increased my enthusiasm to apply here. Its dynamic curriculum, promising and engaged faculty, and international associations make it the ideal environment for me to develop the management and leadership skills required to lead an international company.

Above all, the positive response I received from former MBA Director Amanda Brown heightened my aspirations regarding the possibility of a Graduate Assistantship at the University. Fortunately, I was able to get an assistantship and currently I have been working at College of Graduate Studies supporting marketing efforts. Tennessee Tech has been a remarkable place to develop my interpersonal skills and prepare myself for my professional career. Initially, it was tough for me because the education system was really different from that of my home country Nepal. However, this did not bothered me at all for my growth because of continuous support of my supervisors, faculty, and people around college of business and university. I am very happy to have attended graduate school at Tennessee Tech.

Check out this video on Graduate Assistantship possibilities at Tennessee Tech, featuring me!

Wings Up!

Shree Krishna Dangal, MBA ’16




Being a Tennessee Tech Graduate Student: John D. Stites

The series “Being a Graduate Student at Tennessee Tech,” is designed to give you insight into the perspectives of our diverse graduate student body. The second installment of our series introduces you to Mr. John D. Stites of Cookeville, TN. Mr. Stites has served as jstitesManaging Director of XI Investments, one of the largest commercial and industrial real estate developers in the Upper Cumberland Region of Middle Tennessee, CEO of J&S Construction Company, Inc. for over 40 years, and as Director of Real Estate Processes for the State of Tennessee. He is a prime example of the change going on in education and career advancement. Those who used to be called non-traditional students are rapidly becoming typical.  So, what are the benefits of going back to graduate school for working professionals?

Check out the following video and hear how such an accomplished professional finds value in a graduate education at Tennessee Tech.

Graduate Studies – Benefits for Working Professionals (Video: Vimeo.com)

Get information about Tennessee Tech’s graduate programs.