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Grad School Application Essay Writing Tips

Your graduate school personal statement may initially get only five minutes of an admissions officer’s attention. In those five minutes you have to show that you are a good pick for the school.

Writing an amazing graduate school essay is probably far more straightforward than you might think. Graduate school admissions officers aren’t looking for gimmicks. They’re looking for passionate, motivated, and prepared applicants who are ready to hit the ground running in their program. Read on for more details in creating your best graduate school essay. If you’re looking for one-on-one assistance, check out EssayEdge.com.

Know what the admissions officers are seeking

Don’t make assumptions about your graduate school personal statements. Many programs simply ask you to submit a personal statement without any further guidance. Other programs will tell you exactly how they want the essay structured along with word count limits and formatting requirements. Review the prompt thoroughly and plan your essay before you begin writing to ensure that you create an essay that will be an effective and persuasive addition to your application package.

What should you do if the program doesn’t give you any specifics? With greater numbers of applicants to graduate programs, the trend is toward shorter essays. This is especially true of graduate programs in the STEM fields. Unfortunately, longer essays tend to be skimmed rather than read thoroughly, and most any admissions officer will tell you that the best essays that they’ve read are always shorter essays. Think about what is absolutely essential, and write about those aspects of your experience with passion.  

Personal, personal, personal

Did we mention personal? Some graduate programs will ask you to write an additional essay about an issue within your chosen field. However, your personal statement should be about you as an individual. Write about issues only if they relate specifically to your personal experiences. For example, ‘In Africa, a child dies every minute. This stark statistic prompted me to join an NGO aimed at providing nutrition and healthcare for children in Namibia.’

Keep your anecdotes focused on your life after you began college

It is common for graduate school applicants to start their personal statements with an anecdote about something that happened during childhood or high school. On the surface, this makes sense because that event was what started the journey that has culminated in an application to the program. However, graduate programs are for professionals, and writing about your childhood is more appropriate for an undergraduate essay than one for graduate school. If you feel that you absolutely must include something from your childhood, use it as the starting sentence of your concluding paragraph.

Know your program and make connections

Securing acceptance into a graduate program is more about being the best match than about being the most highly qualified. Among applicants who meet the program’s minimum requirements, they’ll choose an enthusiastic and informed applicant over one with higher test scores and a better GPA who doesn’t seem to know much about their program.

During your graduate studies, you’ll likely do research, and graduate programs want to know that you can both participate in ongoing research as well as find a mentor for your own project. In your essay, write about professors in the programs whose work interests you and why. Also, there is life outside of the classroom. Does the school have a close-knit traditional college campus? Is it located in the heart of the city? Especially if you will be moving with your family, show the admissions officers that you will thrive in their environment.  

Finish with a strong statement about why the school is your top pick

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the school is your only pick. However, generic essays have no place in the graduate school application process. Form letters aren’t persuasive, and generic essays won’t help your application package. If you can’t sincerely write that the school is a top pick, then why are you applying there? Instead, focus on creating stellar essays for the ones that actually interest you. Help the admissions officers understand your overarching vision for your future career and how your time at the school will prepare you to realize these goals.

Source: https://www.petersons.com/graduate-schools/write-graduate-school-essay.aspx

Student GRE experience


This is an actual GRE Test Taker Experience from Pakistan, Samar Haider, who scored 330 on the actual test – 166 Quant and 164 on Verbal

There is no shortage of GRE preparation guides on the Internet, most of which boil down to a to-do list of books to read, guides to solve through, word lists to memorize, and diagnostic tests to practice. I will not attempt to write another, largely due to the fact that I wouldn’t know what to put in it. What I can do is share my story and follow it up with lessons learned and what I would recommend to anyone else going down the same road. I hope that, by providing my reasons for suggesting the resources and exercises that I do, you might gain a better understand of why and how they might help.

The first thing you understand about the GRE is that it is not some crazily difficult test that only aliens can get good scores at. All it takes is a can-do attitude and the drive to put in the required effort.

The second thing you need to understand about the GRE is that the test experience differs for everyone. Some people might need many months of preparation to get to scores others might achieve simply by walking in to take the test on a whim. There is no single way to ace the GRE; it all depends on your background. There is also no one-size-fits-all preparation regime, and even if one does exist, this isn’t it.

I will first recount, in full, my personal experience with the GRE:

I had initially planned on getting the test over with during summer 2015. After the typical frantic Internet search for preparation advice, I decided to give Manhattan’s Set of 8 Strategy Guides a shot since they seemed more comprehensive than any standalone book. Starting with the quantitative guides, I spent a couple of weeks solving my way through their exercises, always under a strict time constraint.

After finishing the six quantitative guides, I moved on to the two verbal ones and immediately realized that GRE vocabulary was harder than expected. I read through these books anyway without bothering to retain what they said.

Then I had to get down to other academic work and completely forgot about the GRE.

Fast-forward to February next year, some nice folks from USEFP dropped by my university and announced that they were offering free vouchers to a handful of students who scored highly on their mock test. With nothing to lose, I signed up for it.

On the night of the mock test, I spent a couple of hours mindlessly scrolling through the aforementioned guides, for lack of anything better to do. The next day, I took the test and got a 328/340 (Q: 169/170, V: 159/170). We weren’t asked to do the AWA section, so that was that.

A couple of weeks later I got the call inviting me to register for the real deal, which I happily did. I was informed of my test date (which happened to be the day before finals week commenced) two weeks before it was scheduled. Since I thought I was good on the quantitative front, I spent the days leading up to it going through Magoosh’s GRE Flashcards and Vocabulary Builder before hitting the bed every night.

On the night of the actual test, I chose to invest time in a full sleep rather than try any last-minute cramming. I ended up with a 330/340 the next day (Q: 166/170, V: 164/170, AWA: 4.5/6.0). This was May 2016. Believe it or not, I actually left the test center contemplating taking the test again since I believed I could have done a better job had I put more time into preparing for it (there had been so much more I had initially planned to do). Eventually, I decided against it since it wasn’t worth putting myself through the entire ordeal all over again, and that was that.

Onto the advice:

The first thing you should do after deciding to take the GRE is to equip yourself with all the information you can get on it so you know exactly what you’re up against and what it takes to beat it. Read ETS’ Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test. Read what kind of questions feature on the GRE and what exactly they ask of you. Read how your score is calculated and how your performance on a section determines the difficulty of the next one you’ll get. Read how scaled scores translate into percentiles in both the quantitative and verbal part. And finally, read how it gets harder to improve your score by the same margin as you go up the curve.

Once you know all of this, you should have a decent idea of how the GRE tests you.

Before you begin with any sort of preparation, you should absolutely take a practice test or two in order to know where you stand. You should also write down the score you want to target. The difference between the two dictates the amount of effort you’ll have to put in.

The quantitative part is all about practice. Do not pat yourself on the back just for getting the answers right: they’re simple enough that pretty much anyone can do so given enough time. You must practice on getting them right in the allotted time, though I would go so far as to suggest that you leave yourself some cushion for a final review pass at the end of each section.

Manhattan’s Strategy Guides are a good place to start preparing for the quantitative section. A lot of what they have to say might be old news for students with an engineering background, but it doesn’t hurt to review some of the fundamentals. Additionally, they occasionally offer some pretty neat shortcuts when it comes to playing around with numbers mentally. Read each chapter and solve all the questions that follow. Focus on doing them at speed. Over time you’ll find yourself automatically solving through parts of a question without having to first come up a strategy.

Once you’re done with the Strategy Guides, you should jump into Manhattan’s 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems and just practice regularly. This, coupled with the practice you already did solving through the Strategy Guides should be more than enough to make solving quantitative questions second nature to you.

Now onto the pièce de résistance: the GRE verbal section. Improving upon the verbal score isn’t really as straightforward as is doing the same on the quantitative one. It depends greatly on your reading level prior to preparation. You can read the Manhattan Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence Guide for examples of questions that feature on the GRE verbal section. Something you need to understand is that the GRE does not explicitly ask you for word definitions. Instead, the questions on it are structured in a way that tests both how well you can understand what a sentence is trying to say and how many words you know that could fill in the blanks without changing its meaning.

The ideal way to improve your reading skills would then be to just read a lot. The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Economist are generally considered to be some of the better sources of content that is relevant, engaging, and written in a style similar to that of passages you might find on the GRE. A good practice is to build a mental summary of each story as you go. You may also come across words you don’t know the meaning of – don’t ignore them! Try to figure out their meaning from the context and then Google them to check if your guess was right.

Unfortunately, this remains more of a long-term preparation strategy and most people don’t have the runway to spend on such an open-ended activity, preferring instead to stick to a particular guide book or mobile app.

One book that attempts to recreate the same experience in a more controlled setting is Barron’s 1100 Words You Need To Know. It lists five words on each page and encourages the reader to interpret their meanings contextually from a paragraph that follows. The reader is then asked to substitute the right word in a set of fill-in-the-blanks and finally match the words to their dictionary meanings. This thinking process mirrors how you might actually solve questions on the GRE. As a bonus, each page also closes by teaching you the meaning and usage of a new idiom – something that might come in handy elsewhere on the GRE.

Moving on to emergency vocabulary aid for the impatient, Magoosh’s GRE Flashcards and Vocabulary Builder are two apps that offer some degree of last ditch preparation. Although both contain the same list of words, one asks you to match it to the correct definition while the other simply asks you to answer whether you know its meaning or not. You might want to hit these two as you draw nearer to your test date. Remember: you must do this exercise honestly. You will only lure yourself into a false sense of security by claiming to know the meanings of words when you actually didn’t.

Finally, there is no guarantee that all the words you’ll see on the GRE will be covered by the resources mentioned above. In some cases, you might have to deconstruct the meaning of a hitherto unseen word on test day. For this you can go through the Roots/Suffixes/Prefixes list at the end of the aforementioned Manhattan Guide (though generalizing from this list can be tricky).

As you go about your preparation, you might want to take further practice tests in order to track your progress.

The analytical writing section is a tricky one. Its subjective nature makes it harder to evaluate your performance and therefore improve your writing skills. One of the best ways to learn how to write is to read others’ work. This is where your time spent reading different stuff (like the aforementioned publications) comes in. You can also read samples from the Manhattan Reading Comprehension & Essays Guide and see how the authors attempt, critique, and then grade an essay/argument.

You should definitely practice writing a few essays/arguments and have someone give you feedback on them (or even simply compare them with the ones in the guide).

Test day tips:

Get a full night’s sleep. I cannot stress this enough. You need to be completely alert during the test. You might also want to eat your favourite breakfast to get you in a good mood.

Do not stress about the test on test day. There is nothing you can do now but enjoy the ride.

After the first three sections, you’ll have the option to take a ten-minute break which you should definitely avail to stretch your legs or have a drink of water. There is also one-minute delay between each section that you can skip or wait out. I would suggest the latter; there is no need to rush things.

Try to complete each section early and then go back to recheck all your answers. You might find some careless mistakes.

Use your keyboard’s numpad instead of the mouse to operate the on-screen calculator. This is a life-saver. And finally, the golden words: read the questions before you begin to attempt them.

Closing notes:

This piece was not in any way meant to be a holistic GRE preparation plan. I’m sure I’ve missed out a lot of great resources that are out there. The purpose of this was only to share my own story and some advice I would give past-me had I had the chance. I hope you can learn from my experience and do a better job at the test. If this article helps a single one of you to raise your score by a point, or even just encourages you to take the test now that you know it’s not that hard, I would consider the time and effort put into writing this well spent.

Now get out there and take this bull by the horns.

Source: http://www.brightlinkprep.com/330-gre-gre-experience-lessons-learned-advice/


Staying Healthy in Grad School

Image result for Yoga college

Juggling graduate academics and, well, anything else is a major challenge.

But whether you’re studying health care or a totally unrelated subject, maintaining your overall wellbeing can go a long way helping you function at the top of your game. Here are some ways prioritize academics and health without cutting corners.

Stay Fit

Studies have shown that exercise actually improves brain function. With a few efficient maneuvers, you can insert chunks of physical activity into your busy schedule to boost your brain while you break a sweat.

  • Make gym clothes your outfit of choice. Wear them to class, and stop for a quick workout before resuming your sedentary studies. ItUll make the path to the gym the road-more-traveled Q since convenience and action go hand-in-hand.
  • Take the scenic route. You may think that short cut to class is a brilliant idea, but not if you pass up a chance to get more exercise while youUre at it. Pick the longer route to fit some extra cardio into your schedule.
  • Put some air in your tires. That bicycle in the corner functions better as a transportation device than a clothing receptacle. Pump a little life in the tubes, and use it to get to your next destination.
  • Study while you sweat. Those treadmill bookracks hold more than just magazines. Take your required reading and get ahead on assignments while you work off your stress.
  • Make exercise part of your curriculum. Discipline is already part of your mindset Q youUre in grad school, after all. Set a schedule you can follow P maybe just two-three days a week to start P and treat it like a class with a rigid attendance policy. If youUre able to maintain it through the entire semester, try adding a day.

Eat Well

A proper diet benefits overall health, including brain function, and also increases energy levels and self-esteem. Healthy eating does take some effort, but itUs possible with a little planning.

  • Choose inexpensive options. Buying quality food can make a dent in your wallet, but a few simple strategies can help you stay within your budget. Gather a group to share bulk purchases at warehouse clubs, purchase generic brands, stock up on seasonal produce and use coupons to save money.
  • Plan ahead. Make a weekly menu so youUll know what to buy, cook in bulk to optimize your efforts, be creative with leftovers by adding them to multiple dishes and avoid vending machines by keeping healthy snacks on hand.
  • Make calories count. A high-protein snack worth 100 calories is more filling than a cookie of equal caloric value. Check labels before you indulge, pay attention to portion sizes and focus on quality over quantity.

Avoiding Illness

The last thing you need on the eve of that exam is a tickle in the back of your throat. Remember a few simple habits to help keep sickness at bay.

  • Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep threatens your immune system. Sleep deprivation ranks right up there with stress for its impact on optimal health.
  • Wash your hands. Research shows that proper hand washing results in lower illness and absenteeism rates.
  • Take your vitamins. Although Vitamin C is often the go-to supplement people choose, studies are mixed on its actual benefits. Vitamin D, however, is proven to increase your ability to fight off respiratory infections.
  • Get vaccinated. Getting the flue vaccine is a good idea Q a matter for you and your doctor to discuss.
  • Eat well and exercise. This list wouldn’t be complete without a reminder about proper diet and exercise, which also help ward off illness.

Seek Out Support

An independent spirit is key to surviving grad school, but it can also hold you back if you’re always determined to go it alone. Some health problems, such as mental illness, eating disorders and physical injuries, can’t be solved through simple lifestyle choices. Feeling some stress is one thing, but feeling perpetually overwhelmed or hopeless is an entirely different ball game. Stay in touch with close friends and family, who can help you gauge what’s normal and healthy behavior for you. Every graduate student’s experience is different, and staying healthy in such a pressure-cooker environment takes practice. Committing to everyday healthy habits is key. Making consistent efforts to incorporate health, however small, can also help reinforce the connections between physical and psychological health P and emphasize why both are so crucial to academic success.

Source: http://phdtalk.blogspot.com/2014/02/staying-healthy-in-graduate-school.html

New TTU Student Orientation

Image result for Tennessee Tech

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


10 Sure Ways to Keep your New Year's Resolutions

Let this year begin with motivation and a refreshed sense of purpose.

Another year is ending and many of us are gathering up our willpower for a brand new set of New Year’s resolutions. But have we learned from past experience? A large number, if not the majority, of previous resolutions were probably broken in weeks, days, or even hours.

So, how to make this time round more successful? Well it’s not as hard as you might think — there are some really easy ways to set yourself on the path to success, and the first is:

1. Keep your resolutions simple.

Sometimes people find themselves aiming for an overhaul of their entire lifestyle, and this is simply a recipe for disappointment and guilt. It may be understandable at this time of year, when self-improvement is on your mind, but experience shows these things can’t all be achieved at once. The best approach is to focus clearly on one or two of your most important goals.

2. Choose carefully.

But which to choose? Well, you might like to concentrate on those that will have the greatest impact on your happiness, health and fulfilment. For example, giving up smoking will obviously improve your health, but it will also give you a sense of pride and will make you happy (but perhaps not immediately!)

3. Be realistic.

Don’t aim too high and ignore reality – consider your previous experience with resolutions. What led to failure then? It may be that you resolved to lose too much weight or save an unrealistic amount of money. Remember, there will always be more opportunities to start on the next phase, so set realistic goals. Or if you don’t want to hold back, set clear short-term goals on your way to a big achievement. Which leads to tip number four.

4. Create bite-sized portions.

Break goals down to manageable chunks. This is perhaps the most essential ingredient for success, as the more planning you do now, the more likely you are to get there in the end. The planning process is when you build up that all-important willpower which you will undoubtedly need to fall back on along the way. Set clear, realistic goals such as losing 5 pounds, saving $30 a month, or going for a run once a week. Decide exactly how you will make this happen.

5. Plan a time-frame.

In fact, the time-frame is vital for motivation. It is your barometer for success, the way you assess your short-term progress towards the ultimate long-term goal. Buy a calendar or diary so you can plan your actions for the coming weeks or months, and decide when and how often to evaluate.

6. Make notes.

Having made a note of your time-frame, you will have a physical reminder of what you’re aiming for. Now go further and write down the details of your resolutions in a notebook, remembering to add your motivations. You could keep a scrapbook for this purpose, and fill it with photos of your slimmer self, pictures of sporting or hobby equipment you are saving for, or even a shocking credit card statement to spur you into action! If your resolution will directly benefit your partner, children, colleagues or friends then add their photos too – anything to remind you of your initial motivation.

7. Treat yourself.

When making your plan, a vital feature should be the rewards and treats you will give yourself at those all-important milestones. But be warned, don’t fall into the trap of putting your goal in danger – it’s too easy for a dieter to say “I’ve been so good, I deserve a few candy bars”, or a saver to throw caution to the wind with a new purchase. One slip, and it could all be over.

8. Receive support.

It is at such times, when you’ve temporarily fallen off the wagon, that your support network is crucial. Carefully choose those people around you who have shown themselves to be trustworthy, supportive friends and explain your plans. Let them know of ways they can help when the going gets tough, and if they’re truly caring they’ll know the right things to say during the hard times.

9. Don’t give up!

Do bear in mind that a slip-up is almost inevitable at some point, and you must not let this become an excuse to give up. When it happens, you will need to draw on your reserves of self-belief and strength, so build these qualities as often as you can. Really feel proud of your past achievements and don’t become critical of yourself. People with higher self-esteem and confidence are in a much better position to succeed, so immediately forgive yourself and say “I’m starting again now!”

10. Put yourself in charge.

These achievements are under your control – other people can advise and support you but it’s your actions which need to change to see the results you want. Having a strong sense of control over your life is necessary to stick with your plans. Those who blame everyone and everything apart from themselves will not have the resources needed to change. Yes, it’s scary to take responsibility for your future, but surely it’s better than the alternative?


Now you’ve read these tips, you are in a great position to consider the best ways to improve your life this New Year. Your happiness is worth the time and effort, so get started, and good luck!

Source: https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-sure-ways-to-keep-your-new-years-resolutions/


10 new year's resolutions for prospective grad students

The New Year is here, which means it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions.

If you’re starting graduate school in the fall, you can’t approach this like you have in the past. It’s tempting to go with the generic “eat healthier,” “exercise more,” “save more money” resolutions, but as a prospective grad student whose life is about to change in a huge way, you need to give it more thought. Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions for prospective grad students.

1. Save Money.

This could be saving for your grad school program or, if you already have that covered, saving for other expenses. The reality is, unless you’re doing something like a part-time MBA or online criminal justice program, you probably won’t have time to work and attend grad school. You’ll still need money to survive. If you don’t want that to be all student loan money, then work and save up this year before school starts.

2. Savor NonGrad Student Life.

The free time, the money in your bank account. Pretty soon, you’ll probably be poor and busy, and surviving on coffee and instant noodles. So enjoy the luxuries of non-student life now. Spend time with friends. Eat at restaurants. Enjoy yourself.

3. Get in Touch with Professors.

You may have browsed professors’ online bios when choosing where to apply, but actually reach out to them now, since they may be your future advisers or even take part in the admissions process.

According to Georgetown University, “In the case of Ph.D. programs especially, faculty are often involved in the admissions process because they are able to choose research assistants. Showing interest in their research, tenacity in your application, and creativity in future research interests makes you stand out from other applicants.”

That may or may not apply to your chosen program, but doesn’t hurt to stay in contact with professors throughout the year.

4. Change your Top Ramen Habits.

You can either eat less Top Ramen, since you’ll most likely be eating lots of it during grad school. Or you could eat more Top Ramen, to prepare your body for the unhealthy staple of graduate life. Whichever works. Just choose soon and stick with it.

5. Talk with Current Students.

Don’t be blindsided by grad school life and the demands of studying. Reach out to people in the program or who have already completed it and find out what you can expect. Of course, it differs from student to student because some of your course of study will be based on the topic of your thesis, but you can still learn from these students and help yourself mentally prepare.

6. Start Thinking About your Thesis or Dissertation.

This might sound like crazy talk, since you haven’t even started the program, but giving this some thought sooner rather than later can’t hurt. It’s good to know what your interests are. It may change, but starting the conversation with an adviser sooner rather than later is never a bad thing.

This is essentially a book-length project here. You don’t want to put it off too long.

7. Binge on Netflix.

Pretty soon, you won’t have time to do this. Enjoy it now.

8. Change your Reading Habits.

You can either not read at all, to take a break before reading a lot in grad school, or you could read a lot, to prepare your mind intellectually for grad school. If you do the latter, it’s a good time to tackle some titles from the list of things you’ve always wanted to read, since reading for pleasure won’t be much of a thing soon.

9. Get your Beauty Rest.

Because you’re likely going to join the 40 percent of Americans who, according to Gallup, get six hours or less of sleep a night. Pull eight- or nine-hour sleep sessions until school starts, if you can.

10. Start Thinking About Life after Graduation.

Yes, it sounds crazy to consider life after graduation, since you’re just starting. But this year, you really should.

According to admissions expert Dr. Don Martin in an article for U.S. News & World Report, “Time will literally fly by. And before you know it, you will be graduating. That’s why it’s so important to take time now to check out your school’s career development office and learn about the services provided. Thoroughly review the website, and if you can, set up an appointment to visit the office.”

Of course, it’s OK to also plan to eat healthier, exercise more and follow all those other clichéd new year’s resolutions that we all make (and typically break). But as a future grad student, give these 10 a shot, too, to prepare yourself for success in the fall.



How to Plan a Productive Winter Break

Planning a productive winter break can be easier than ever if you think of it in terms of two simple elements—work and play.

Of course, the word “productive” implies some work, so you will have to expend a little bit of energy if you want to get ahead on school-related tasks this winter break. However, winter break should also be used as a time to recharge and relax, so do not disregard this aspect of vacation! Here is how you can maximize both aspects:

1. Make time for work

Winter break may seem like a long period of time. It is a long period, in fact, when you compare it to the standard two-day weekend students are accustomed to having off throughout the school year. However, winter break is bound to fly by, so make sure you use this valuable hiatus productively.

The first step is to assess everything you must get done over winter break. Do you have to read an entire novel for English class? Did your math teacher leave you a packet of exercises on derivatives? Do you have a social studies term paper due when you get back? Take into account any work that was assigned in all of your classes. If no work was assigned, consider the tasks you could start working ahead on or preparing for, such as upcoming quizzes or semester-long research projects.

Next, make a schedule that is suitable to both your needs and preferences. You could dedicate certain days of the week to one class, or you could alternate days.

For example, maybe you choose to read the novel only on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and set aside the remaining days for the math packet. On the other hand, you could read the novel Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and chip away at math exercises on the days in between.

There are several approaches that work, so feel free to personalize your schedule to your liking. Not only should you consider your usual weekly commitments, but also consider the times of day you perform at your best.

2. Make time for play

Enjoying oneself is just as important as working hard. If you only spend your free time completing assignments for school, you are sure to exhaust your brain quickly. As such, it is necessary to take breaks and have some fun every once in a while!

Think about what it is that gets your mind in the right place. Does taking a bike ride, watching television, or listening to music help you to work more effectively? Whatever your preferred activity is, it is essential that you find time to do it amidst your busy winter vacation. A fun activity can allow you to regain concentration and a positive outlook.

Moreover, rewarding yourself for good behavior, known as positive reinforcement, is great for motivational purposes. If you are working hard this winter break, learn to reward yourself in exchange.

For example, you could tell yourself that if you finish an assignment within the next two hours, you can continue watching three more episodes of your favorite Netflix series. If you prefer to involve someone else in the process, ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable and allot rewards when you have finished a task.

To have a productive winter break, aim for a healthy balance between work and play. The right amount of leisure time can make actual work time much more useful. May your winter break be both fruitful and fun!

Source: https://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/how-to-plan-a-productive-winter-break


Christmas in Cookeville

Below are Cookeville’s Christmas Events. Take some time to enjoy the festivities! 


December 10th

Swingin’ with Santa – 9am to 11am

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Santa at Dogwood Park – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 11th

Santa at Dogwood Park – 1pm to 3pm

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 12th

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 13th

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 14th

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 15th

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 16th

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 17th

Santa at Dogwood Park – 1pm to 3pm

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 18th

Santa at Dogwood Park – 1pm to 3pm

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 19th

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Santa at Dogwood Park – 4pm to 7pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 20th

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 21st

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 22nd

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 23rd

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 24th

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 26th

Downtown ICE – 12pm to 8pm

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 27th

Downtown ICE – 12pm to 8pm

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 28th

Downtown ICE – 12pm to 8pm

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 29th

Downtown ICE – 12pm to 8pm

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 30th

Downtown ICE – 12pm to 8pm

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

December 31st

Cookeville History Museum’s “Christmas Forest” – 1pm to 3pm

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

January 1st

Hidden Hollow Park’s Holiday Lights – 5pm to 9pm

12 Grad School Survival Tips

Grad school isn’t easy, and it’s definitely not the same for everyone.

Sometimes it seems like you’re the only person in the world experiencing the pressure that you’re under. However, you are not alone, and in fact, many students have gone through very similar experiences to yours in the past. That’s why, in order to help current grad students, past students have compiled a list of great tips for surviving grad school. No matter what year you are, utilize these tips to get through graduate school successfully.


  • Stick to a budget.


This tip is likely not all that difficult to follow if you’re a regular graduate student. But, when you do score some extra cash (for whatever reason) try your best to put it towards paying your bills, savings or paying off loans and interest.

Because, chances are, you’ll want to have a splurge session and, quite honestly, we don’t blame you. It really is in your best interest to pay off your debt!


  • Remember that you’re never alone.


Deciding to take on graduate school is a scary task but, remember, you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who has decided to take on this lifestyle.

In fact, you may not be the only one questioning, “Why on earth did I decide to take on this lifestyle in the first place?” Heck, there could be support groups for students like you.

So, take solace in the fact that you, friend, are not alone!


  • Pay off interest when you can.


You’ll be in a much better spot with as little interest accumulated as possible. It’s difficult, but pay off as much interest as you’re able. Your future self will be eternally grateful.


  • Let yourself be a student.


Repeat: I am a grad student. I am learning. I will make mistakes. Seriously, don’t be so hard on yourself. What you’re doing is seriously admirable and really difficult. The world really isn’t going to come to an end if you make a mistake, we promise.


  • Utilize tax breaks.


As a graduate student, you qualify for unique tax breaks that you should utilize.

For example, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit can allow students thousands in tax breaks annually!


  • Make the most of your resources.


There are a lot of resources provided to students like you. You just need to:

  1. Find out what they are.
  2. Utilize them.

Refer to your professors, go to their office hours and ask the right questions. When in doubt, refer to number eight on this list!


  • Apply for free money!


By this, we mean grants and scholarships! There are so many financial resources available to graduate students on sites like, ahem, Fastweb, so apply, apply, apply! Remember, applying is pretty much a numbers game and the more you apply, the better your chances of winning are. Apply for all you qualify for to maximize your odds of winning.


  • Never forget you have an advisor.


Your advisor is there to help with any questions you may have regarding programs, research, faculty issues, etc. Don’t forget about this important person you should have on speed dial! If your advisor doesn’t have an answer for you, he or she will be able to point you in the right direction of the contact who will.

It’s even advisable to set up a regular meeting with your advisor to check in and see how things are progressing for you. So many students neglect to do this. Think about it this way, you’re paying for their services indirectly, so why not utilize them?


  • Select work you’re passionate about.


You can’t devote hours on end to learning and working on something you can’t stand. It’s as simple as that. You’ll grow tired of it and simply won’t put forth the endless effort that it takes to get through days and nights of studying and working towards a goal.

Bottom line: pick something you absolutely live and breathe so that you can live with your decision.


  • Take time to experience life, even if it’s just for a moment.


Through your courses and your difficult curriculum, try to take time to experience life as well. You’ll see glimpses of life through meeting others, getting to know professors, chatting with baristas or petting someone’s puppy on the street.

These may seem like pretty lame experiences and, quite frankly, they are but they’re little slices of life to help you get through even the darkest of days.


  • Always remember the light at the end of the tunnel.


Never forget that through all of your pain and hard work – there is an end to a means. Grad school doesn’t last forever and, with every moment, you’re getting closer and closer to the light at the end of the tunnel!


  • Relax when you’re able.


Yes, we know – easier said than done. At the rare moments when you have a free moment, try your hardest to relax. Take a deep breath, take a bath and do whatever you need to do to just, you heard us, relax!

Source: https://www.fastweb.com/college-search/articles/the-12-grad-school-survival-tips

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving Break for a College Student

Many students want to forget about schoolwork over Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Break is ideally supposed to be a time when you relax, enjoy family and friends, catch up on the sleep you’ve missed from studying, and reflect on what you are thankful for.  But when you are in college that idea is far from reality. Here are five things me and mostly every other college student will be doing during Thanksgiving “break”:

1. Playing Catch Up!

And by this I mean trying to email your teachers and see what late assignments they will accept because you’ve finally had some free time to calculate your grade, and you are regretting not turning in that 5-point response. Also, catching up on shows you haven’t watched in-between time. Somehow when you are in college TV is non-existent due to late night study sessions and falling asleep between chapters.

2. Roadtrip Homework

The awesome part about Thanksgiving break is spending time with family you haven’t seen in a while. Georgia State has so many students from so many places, it can be easy to get homesick. But the unfortunate thing is while making that trip to Grandma’s everyone will be catching up on sleep, watching their fav Netflix series, and then there will be you, studying for those tests you have as soon as the break ends.

3. Eating Thanksgiving Dinner with a Book in Your Lap

Like I said before, I have no clue why professors schedule tests right after the break. That’s almost like saying “enjoy your Thanksgiving ‘Extended Studying’ Break” because they have to know that you will be using your so called “break” to study for a test. So while everyone’s around the table sharing laughs and memories, you’ll be stuffing your face and reading chapters 4-11 because you had no time to do it before now. There’s nothing like enjoying mac and cheese and a good read!

4. Attempting to Catch Up on Sleep

Between homework, work and extracurricular activities, being a college student is almost like being a superhero. We are always on the go and never in bed on time. So between studying, trying to hang out with the friends and family you never have time for during the semester, and stuffing your face, one thing we must be sure to do is to catch up on that thing that hasn’t happened in a while, …

5. Doing what we do best: Procrastinating!

This break is seven days to get your school-life back together, which seems pretty hectic around this time of year. With that fact in mind just like every other student, we will probably wait until Saturday to actually study for that test on Monday, finish up old assignments and start that project you’ve known about since August. But at the end of the day, we always get the work done. And this break, be sure to enjoy family and friends, get some sleep and finish up the work you need. Luckily for us, the semester is almost over after this break, so finish strong and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Source: http://studentsinthecity.gsu.edu/the-true-meaning-of-thanksgiving-break-for-a-college-student/