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Creating a Better Workspace and Working Creatively

Whether working on a dissertation, conducting research, or grading papers, an efficient workspace can enhance your performance.

There are countless articles about how to organize your office or desk, but let’s face it – one size does not fit all. Different things work for different people, and sometimes we need to be creative.  It’s important to keep things simple, focus on what you need, and be ready to adapt.

Changing something simple can make a world of difference.

For instance, my desk used to face towards a window.  Initially, I thought I’d gain inspiration and feel relaxed because I could gaze outside during the workday.  Quite the opposite; I became distracted. I watched birds, stared at clouds, and constantly thought about being outside. Then I moved my desk so that it faced a wall. It wasn’t a particularly interesting wall, but the change in scenery helped immediately. I could focus on work, and after a report or meeting, I’d stand up and walk to the window. It became a nice break, and it always felt rewarding.

Keep it Simple and Focus on the Essentials

I kept it simple, and I focused on what I needed — I needed to concentrate. Eliminating distractions makes it easier to focus, and distractions come in all forms. Take an inventory of your surroundings and identify what you need and what you don’t need in order to remain focused.


Have a Supply of Snacks at Hand

It’s helpful to keep a healthy snack within arm’s reach while working, perhaps a small bowl of fruit or a health bar. Not only is this good for you, but it prevents you from breaking focus to get up and rummage through the fridge. You probably don’t need your phone right in front of you while you’re doing research, alerting you every 10 minutes about who called or texted. Put the phone on the charger somewhere away from your desk. When you take a break or stand up to stretch, you can walk over and check your phone. If you’re in a public place, you can keep it in a bag or backpack.

If you’re prepared, almost anywhere can be your work station.

Changing your workspace doesn’t have to be drastic, but your workspace might change drastically. It’s the nomadic life of a scholar. Your well organized desk at home — stocked with pens, supplies, notebooks, ergonomic keyboard, and LaserJet printer — won’t do much for you when you have to take the show on the road. Be ready to adapt.

Make sure you have the supplies you need beforehand, and the train ride, the waiting room, or the office lunchroom can become your workspace. But be aware of your surroundings, because not every location is conducive to every activity. For instance, don’t schedule an important phone call with your adviser when you plan to be working in a noisy coffee shop.  Don’t plan on quietly editing your dissertation near the group of noisy undergrads in that one section of the library.

There are plenty of tips about organizing drawers and de-cluttering your desk, but from a macro level it’s important to keep things simple when it comes to your workspace. Examine what you need to remain focused, and take note of distractions that break your concentration. Your work environment may not always be ideal, but basic preparation, awareness and a little creativity can help you turn any location into an efficient workspace.

Source: http://www.proquest.com/blog/gradshare/2015/Creating-a-Better-Workspace-and-Working-Creatively.html

Why Tennessee Tech?

Choosing the right school is even more important on the graduate level.

As a potential graduate student, the quality of education you want to attain is even more dependent on the kind of school you choose. It is incredibly important to choose an institution that is designed to help you succeed rather than weed you out.

Medium size = more personalized learning coupled with a variety of programs

With enrollment around 10,000 students, Tennessee Tech is a modestly-sized university. While some students want to go to a bigger university that is more prestigious, graduate students need a more tailored education that is both intensive and personalized. Many will find that a larger university falls short in providing a tailored learning environment on the graduate level.

On the flip side, availability of graduate programs tends to be lacking in smaller schools. However, Tennessee Tech is both small enough to have grad programs tailored for student success and large enough to have a wide array of available graduate programs for students.

Tennessee Tech faculty care about their students

One of the big advantages that Tennessee Tech brings to its students is that all of the faculty are dedicated to promoting the success of their students. Rather than aiming to “root out” students, Tech faculty desire to help each student succeed in their area of study.

Graduate school classes tend to be smaller, too, which allows Tech professors to better teach their students the material. As a former graduate student in the School of Environmental Studies, I can absolutely affirm that I was well taken care of and had an incredible learning experience while in graduate school at Tech.

Tennessee Tech is affordable and offers tons of financial assistance

Tennessee Tech in-state graduate tuition is around $8,500, while out-of-state is around $15,500, which is about half the amount of  the University of Tennessee’s in-state and out-of-state graduate tuition.  In addition, Tennessee Tech offers significant financial assistance in the form of loans, grants, fellowships, and assistantships: https://www.tntech.edu/graduatestudies/financial/

Tennessee Tech has very affordable housing and a low cost of living

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.

Tech also offers on-campus housing with prices that range from around $350 to $1100 depending on what size room you’d like and whether or not you want a roommate.

Cookeville is 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. 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. 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.

Cookeville has many stores, restaurants, and coffee shops to enjoy

There are several good restaurants in Cookeville, including Seven Senses, Crawdaddy’s, India Palace, Cinco Amigos, Father Tom’s, and many chain restaurants. Also, Cookeville has tons of coffee shops, such as Poets and Charity’s, and donut shops, such as Ralph’s, Big O’s, Krispy Kreme, and Dunkin Donuts. In addition, the area is still developing and has several shopping centers where students can get supplies, essentials, clothes, groceries, and also recreational things.

Should you go to Grad School?

Are you considering going to graduate school?

Are you aware of all your options, and what a graduate program involves — financially, mentally, and emotionally?

Entering a graduate program is an important decision that will affect your life for 2-3 years and should not be taken lightly. Understand the pros and cons, how you’ll pay for tuition fees, whether you have the stamina and discipline to get through, whether you have the emotional and financial support, and what your prospects are post-graduation when tuition loan interest is mounting.

20 Reasons to Go to Graduate School

In some disciplines, having a graduate degree is a necessity for getting a “career” job. That does not mean you should dive right in immediately after completing your undergrad degree. Just make sure you have a good reason for going. Some of the reasons below are more valid than others, but they are all common reasons for which people attend grad schools.

  1. Greater earning power. This is a popular reason why people go to grad school. However, it should not be the only reason, since getting a grad degree is a very serious commitment.
  2. Advance your career. A grad degree can open up a wider array of career opportunities: in psychology, social work, healthcare, for example.
  3. Career change. Many people are finding their current careers unrewarding. An advanced degree can help transition to another career—whether out of desire or necessity.
  4. Enhance your education. Graduate schools can provide opportunities to explore theories you may have about a topic.
  5. Get community recognition. If you explore your theories and discover something new, you will get recognition for it.
  6. Get international recognition. Carry that recognition further. If your discovery is truly groundbreaking, you may receive international recognition, not to mention awards. Who knows? Maybe you have a Nobel Prize within you.
  7. Get research opportunities. Even if you do not get to explore your own theories, there are other opportunities to participate in funded research.
  8. Upgrade your education. Your knowledge of your field is outdated and you find it difficult to keep up with advancements without following up and getting an advanced degree.
  9. Enjoy travel opportunities. Some programs, such as archaeology, require studying abroad for research purposes. For those who like to travel, this is a bonus.
  10. Find teaching opportunities. Not everyone is suited to teaching, but for those who are, getting a PhD can lead to a tenured position at a university or college, with a nice salary, a teaching or research assistant to help with workload, consulting opportunities (partly shared with your department), and a nice pension upon retirement.
  11. Work on advanced projects. For example, the computer scientists who delved early into computer graphics set the standards for much of the CGI technology used in movies today.
  12. Access to advanced equipment and tools. In a similar vein, entering a grad program could mean having access to advanced equipment on campus—such as the astronomy lab, supercomputers, rare books, and even great minds.
  13. Higher potential for future promotion. While obtaining a graduate degree does not necessarily always lead to a high-paying job right away, it can open up opportunities for future promotions.
  14. Not being stuck behind a desk. If you have the necessary education to qualify for a high-ranking position in your chosen industry, it means that you often have the option of not sitting behind a desk all day. You might go meet colleagues or clients, travel, or even play golf in the afternoon on a nice day.
  15. Employer incentives. Some large corporations have funds set aside that will pay partial or full fees for qualified employees.
  16. Be part of a chain of knowledge. This doesn’t tickle everyone’s fancy, but just imagine that the knowledge handed to you by your professor came from another professor who learned it from someone who learned it from a famous scientist or philosopher. You become part of a chain of knowledge.
  17. Because you want to. To learn, to think critically, to accept the academic challenge.
  18. To stand out. By attending grad school and completing a degree, you join an elite segment of the population.
  19. Free tuition. In some cases, grad schools might not only waive your tuition, but also give you a stipend for living expenses in return for taking on the work of a teaching assistant or research assistant.
  20. Realization of interest. Not everyone realizes during undergraduate studies that they are suited for grad studies. Some of your professors might recommend it to you and offer to supervise—with tuition waived and a research assistant position to cover expenses.

15 Reasons Not to Go to Graduate School

Now for the flipside. Completing a grad degree has many rewards, as indicated above. However, there are also many reasons not to go.

  1. Highly competitive. Graduate programs always have fewer spots than undergraduate programs. There’s competition for seats, research positions, grant money, and often as a result, departmental politics.
  2. Enables the “professional student” mindset. Some students just don’t want to leave school. One of the reasons for this is said to be a fear of going out into the workforce.
  3. Requires ability to set priorities. Successfully completing a grad degree requires a great deal of discipline and priority setting. This can be a strain on family and personal relationships, not to mention yourself.
  4. Relationship strains. If you’re married, housing might be an issue. You might be offered a grad/research assistant position and free tuition but no accommodations for your spouse in campus housing.
  5. Stressful. Emotionally exhausting. Completing a graduate degree, especially a PhD, requires emotional maturity.
  6. Writing a thesis. Some grad programs require writing a thesis on a topic that your degree supervisor picks out for you. Writing an original thesis is not easy compared to course work, and it is often the reason grad students take a lot longer than program duration. Each semester you delay might mean a “penalty” fee in the form of extra tuition that has to be paid.
  7. Requires support. You might need a strong support network to get through emotionally.
  8. Might take 2–7 years of your life. Not everyone finds they can complete a grad degree in the typical 1 or 2 years. Personal obligations often intrude or lack of finances makes it difficult. Or your supervisor doesn’t like your research. This doesn’t even factor in the costs and how long it might take to pay back loans.
  9. Extra cost of education. Graduate schools can be very expensive. If you are not going to work during your studies or will not receive an assistant job and waived tuition fees, the cost of your education is going to mount.
  10. Graduating with a large debt. This state of financial affairs might push you into accepting any job after graduation out of necessity.
  11. No guarantee of higher salary. Getting a grad degree does not necessarily mean you’ll get offered a job with a much higher salary than you are getting now.
  12. Return on investment might be slow. Even with a higher salary, how quickly will that offset tuition loans and the negative cash flow due to not earning while studying?
  13. Limited job opportunities. If the degree you get is in an academic field, finding work outside of teaching or research may be difficult, and thus, not necessarily worth it to you.
  14. Undesirable job locales. Teaching positions offered after graduation could be in areas you simply don’t want to live in.
  15. Too qualified. During an economic downturn, should you find yourself looking for employment, having an advanced degree can be a liability. You might hear, “Sorry, you’re overqualified.”


If you are determined to go to grad school, consider spending a few years getting relevant work experience first. You could take the time to save the money for tuition and expenses, which would allow you to devote dedicated time to a degree. Or if you’ve built up trust in your employer, they might foot part of the tuition and give you time off each day to attend to studies. All this allows you some peace of mind, which might be what you need to succeed in grad school.


Source: https://www.petersons.com/graduate-schools/guide-students-graduate-school.aspx#/sweeps-modal

101 Years at TTU

In 1915, when a group of local businessmen and civic leaders convinced the state of Tennessee to establish an institution of higher education in Cookeville, local girls and boys finally had the opportunity to study at a public college close to home. Since 1915, Tech has advanced from:

  • The first class year to the 100th.
  • Fewer than 1,000 students to more than 11,000.
  • One building to nearly 100 and from 25 acres to more than 250.

Tennessee Tech University’s Centennial Celebration begins with the 100th anniversary of the date Tennessee Polytechnic Institute was established. The 100th academic year begins with fall semester of 2015. Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, expect special events and projects worthy of the commemoration of Tennessee Tech’s first 100 years. Highlights of the centennial calendar:

March 27, 2015 – Charter Day

May 9, 2015 – Commencement

Sept. 18, 2015 – Downtown Kick-off

Nov. 14, 2015 – Centennial Homecoming

Dec. 12, 2015 – Commencement

April 1, 2016 – Centennial Gala

April 16, 2016 – Centennial Spring Finale Week

May 7, 2016 – Commencement.


Historical notes

Chartering the college that would become Tennessee Technological University began with a grassroots effort in the early 1900s in response to two needs: the first, to help build a bigger technical workforce in Tennessee and, second, to bring public higher education to a region where money was scarce and education scarcer still.

In 1909, local business and religious leaders lobbied hard to site a public college in Cookeville, but failed. Undaunted, the elders of a local Church of Christ founded a private college to be funded mostly by subscriptions and tuition — as it turns out, an overly ambitious goal in an area of Tennessee with little wealth. The school, Dixie College, was on the verge of closing its doors when church elders, with the promise of financial backing from the Cookeville and Putnam County governments, offered to deed the school to the state. A bill was presented, fierce debates about funding and location ensued, but ultimately, Cookeville prevailed, and Gov. Thomas Rye signed the charter establishing Tennessee Polytechnic Institute on March 27, 1915.

Tech enrolled both high school and junior college students intended to contribute to the skilled workforce of Middle Tennessee. In-state students were offered the opportunity to work for their tuition, room and board through a “practical work” program. Students grew and prepared their own vegetables and fruit, tended livestock, helped construct buildings– not only paying their way through school but contributing to the overall cost of running the school. The president and faculty were determined to make this educational effort a success.

Trials faced Tennessee Tech — as they did most colleges — over the years. Enrollment was so slim in the early days that the school earned part of its funding through a World War I program for wounded veterans. The Great Depression delayed faculty and staff salaries and the operating budget was slashed. World War II siphoned off both students and faculty, and enrollment plummeted. Again, Tech rallied, becoming a war-time training ground for soldiers and staff.


By the 1950s and 1960s in the post-war economic boom, Tech was thriving. Programs expanded to include more graduate studies, the campus and physical plant nearly doubled, enrollment increased ten-fold. In 1965, Gov. Frank Clement signed the bill approving Tech’s climb to university status; from now on, it would be known as “Tennessee Technological University.”

Science and technological studies — tempered by arts and humanities, business and education, agriculture and human ecology, nursing and health sciences, and custom interdisciplinary degrees — flourished. Enrollment doubled, and research grants from state and federal agencies poured in to doctoral faculty. Students benefitted, career achievements reaching new heights at commercial aeronautical and engineering contractors, national laboratories and medical research centers, major news outlets, professional sports, the Armed Forces, NASA, the Department of Defense. For more than a decade, Tech has been ranked by a steadily growing number of media and other agencies as among the best in the Southeast and U.S. in academics, career outcomes and — harkening back to its roots — affordability.

Over the past 100 years, the people of Tennessee Tech have paused periodically to reassess, retool and transform — from making college possible for the region’s children, to settling in as the leading professional incubator for area business and industry, to expanding research contributions at home and overseas. Tech’s 100th anniversary is a singular moment in the university’s history. It’s a turning point acknowledging that today’s success is built on yesterday’s foundation — that carrying out its founders’ vision requires vigilance and foresight, an eagle’s eye toward the horizon.

FYI: Tennessee Tech University at 100

  • Charter for Tennessee Polytechnic Institute signed on March 27, 1915, in Nashville by Gov. Thomas Rye.
  • Classes began on Sept. 14, 1916.
  • College enrollment totaled 19 in 1916, just over 400 in 1943, just over 4,000 in 1964, and 11,300 in 2015.
  • Campus grew from one building to nearly 100, from 25 acres to 250.
  • TPI achieved university status in 1965 during its 50th anniversary celebration. Bill signed on Feb. 16, 1965, in Nashville by Gov. Frank Clement.
  • Three concentrations offered in 1916: agriculture, home economics and mechanical arts.
  • More than 40 fields of study offered in 2015, leading to baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees housed in seven colleges and one school.
  • More than 78,000 degrees granted.

Student Project – David Bailey, PSM, Environmental Informatics

P.S.M. student David Bailey has been working on the Falling Water River Watershed project funded by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation under the direction of Tania Datta in the TTU Water Center.

David is utilizing his GIS skills and database management knowledge to compile and create a geodatabase (a collection of spatial databases) of numerous sources of data from different agencies involved in the management of the watershed.

The Falling Water River watershed includes the City of Cookeville and has a number of impaired tributary streams with water quality issues that could be improved for current and future users.

The goal is to achieve a product which can be utilized by different organizations that have an interest in the watershed as a means to search, acquire and share available data detailing the watershed. The geodatabase will improve the efficiency of watershed management by making data available to researchers, managers and other key stakeholders.

Presence: Showing up is half the battle

Imagine this scenario.

As everyone in the office huddles around, it’s catch up time after the holiday. Larry discusses how big the turkey was during Christmas dinner. A few minutes in, your mind starts to wander: “Did I take out the trash?”, “While I was looking down the microscope, did that cell run off the slide?” Then suddenly, consciousness returns and everyone is looking at you, “Oh…uh…yes!” A wave of embarrassment hits you, but you find yourself drifting off again a few minutes later. This happens to all of us. However, there’s a common problem this phenomenon stems from. It’s a lack of personal investment that individuals are willing to have in conversations or life.

Are you paying attention?

The main thing is that people within a conversation or meeting tune out. They stop caring about what the other people are saying. Instead of stopping them to switch topics or to something more substantial, they listen half-heartedly with glazed eyes. This is tragic for both you and the people around you. Not only does it mean that we aren’t connecting with each other on a meaningful level, it means that we are uninterested in staying in the present. We aren’t paying attention anymore.

This is a larger problem now that we have cell phones. Have you ever been in a conversation and had one person whip out his/her cell phone? Although it seems acceptable, it is rude and unflattering. You are non-verbally telling the person, “You are not worth my time.”

Presence is crucial

You may think this is yet another elitist ranting about how technology is ruining things. However, hear me out…I swear it isn’t. The main point is that we miss out on many connections and opportunities because we aren’t present in the moment. When we are, devoting both our time and attention to someone, it’s noticed and appreciated. The conversation becomes much deeper than the surface level, “How about that weather?”

Have a big name in the field that you want to network with? You’re going to have to be present and show them you value their presence. This is vastly overlooked and has led to many lost connections. I guarantee that if you stay present in a conversation, meeting, etc., your impact and words will hold much greater weight. And as an added benefit, the potential for strong connection and networking increases dramatically.

A challenge and some tricks for staying present

It’s tempting to take out our phone whenever we’re bored. Instead, I offer a challenge. I suggest you try something different. Next time you’re waiting in line, observe the situation around you. How is the building decorated? Is music playing, if so what is it? Who are the people around me and what are they doing? Have a casual conversation with the people waiting around you, be curious about how they live. Basically, if you practice awareness and presence within your everyday life, staying present becomes easier.

When you’re transitioning to greater presence in conversations, there are a few tricks you can use. The first trick is to swap the topic of conversation into something both parties (i.e. you and the other person) are interested in and would find valuable. If you stay present in the conversation, you can catch whenever you or others start to glaze over. When you do this, you can pull them back into being present with you.

The second trick is used if they are discussing something that takes some time to get through. In these situations, focus on the feeling in your toes. Seriously. Whenever you feel like you’re drifting off, focus on the feeling in your toes for a few seconds. What’s going on down there? Is it hot or cold? By focusing on the feelings in your extremities, you can bring yourself back in the present by reminding you what is going on in the moment. It reminds you that you’re standing in space with other people. These tricks take practice, however they work extremely well to maintain the opportunity for connection.

Staying present is awesome

It may seem like this is superficial, but I assure you it isn’t. If you practice being present, not only are your networking and connection opportunities going to improve, you will also be happier. You will be more aware of life and what is going on around you. By becoming more present, you will appreciate the people around you and improve upon your own life.

Source: http://www.proquest.com/blog/gradshare/2015/Presence-Showing-Up-is-Half-the-Battle.html

Faculty Interview – Tammy Boles

Tell us a little about your background. What brought you to the position you are currently in?

I was actually an undergraduate student at TTU for three years. I met my future husband here, married him and then we moved to Columbia, South Carolina. While he worked on his Ph.D. in chemistry, I finished my B.S. in chemistry and then my M.S. in chemistry at the University of South Carolina. In 1994, we found our way back to Cookeville and I worked in the TTU Water Center as a metals chemist for 10 years. In 2004, I was hired to be a coordinator and academic advisor in what was then the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Extended Education (ISEE). I was able to work on and complete my Ph.D. in Environmental Science-Chemistry in 2009. In 2012, ISEE became the College of Interdisciplinary Studies, and the School of Environmental Studies was created under the college. I applied for a tenure-track position and became the first assistant professor in the School of Environmental Studies in January 2013.

What is your favorite thing about your current position?

I’ve always liked working at the university. I think it keeps me young, and I get exposed to new ideas. I like teaching our students, although I would have never dreamed that I could teach.

On a day-to-day basis, what do your normal tasks look like?

I usually teach classes two days each week, and on the day in between, I hold office hours. I try to keep one to two days open each week for research. My research lab is in Foster Hall, so I usually spend two days each week there.

Are you currently doing any research and do you have opportunities for students to get involved?

Yes, my research is on licit and illicit drugs in wastewater. I currently supervise research for a doctoral student, a master’s student, and five undergraduate students. Of these seven students, two are within the School of Environmental Studies, with the doctoral student in the Environmental Sciences-Chemistry concentration and an undergraduate student in the Environmental Science-Biology option.

What advice would you give students who are preparing to enter the environmental workforce or attend graduate school?

I always encourage students to participate in some type of undergraduate research, whether it’s with me or another professor on campus. I think that gives students valuable experience that sets them apart from other students who apply for graduate school or for a job. I also encourage students to take the internship class, ESS 4900. We’ve had several students take the class, and all of them thought it was beneficial.

Source: https://www.tntech.edu/is/ses/newsletter (Winter 2017 SOES Newsletter)

Graduate Assistantships

A Graduate Assistantship is one of the best ways to gain experience and support during your time as a graduate student

It is very important to be able to be supported while also getting applicable experience while in graduate school, and graduate assistantships can often be almost as important as the curriculum itself in terms of providing graduate students with invaluable knowledge and skills for work after graduation.  However, it’s often hard to know where to look for and how to go about receiving this kind of support. So, for your benefit, below is a list of informational documents and steps to help guide you through the Graduate Assistantship hiring process at Tennessee Tech.

Helpful Links

Graduate Assistantship Application

Currently Available Graduate Assistant Positions

Graduate Assistantship Stipends

Graduate Assistantship:  Student Information

Graduate Assistantships are only available to students who have been admitted with full standing into a Tennessee Tech graduate degree program.

A limited number of Graduate Assistantships are available throughout the University. Graduate Assistantships provide tuition remission at an in-state rate, a percentage of your fees, and a modest monthly stipend. Graduate Assistants are responsible for all fees not covered by the assistantship. All fees must be paid by the fee payment deadlines posted by the Tennessee Tech Bursar Office each semester.

Persons interested in applying for a Graduate Assistantship should submit their Graduate Assistantship application to the individual college or department they are interested in working with. Direct contact with each college or department is encouraged as additional application materials and references may be required and some departments may also have specific deadlines for assistantship applications as stated above.

Instructions to apply for a Graduate Assistantship

The criteria listed are required for all assistantships; however, each department may require more information (e.g. letters of recommendation, personal statement, etc.). You must contact the “Contact Person” listed below for more information about their criteria.

Steps for Applying:

  1. Complete the Graduate Assistantship application located below.
  2. Save the application to your computer and email it as an attachment to the appropriate contact person listed below in the Departments Offering Assistantships.
  3. Along with the application, please send your resume and all additional information you feel may be helpful to the contact person.
  4. Wait for a response from the contact person regarding additional information or documentation that may require be required (e.g. letters of recommendation, personal statement, etc.).
  5. If you have not heard anything within one week, please follow up with the contact person.

Additional Information:

  • There is no limit to the number of graduate assistant positions you may apply for.
  • In order to begin your assistantship, you must be fully admitted into your graduate degree program and be enrolled as a full-time graduate student.
  • In order to remain eligible for an assistantship, you must maintain a minimum cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0 each semester.
  • Graduate Research Assistants need to have a complete understanding of Tennessee Tech’s Intellectual Property policies and how it may impact them. Advise all Research Assistants to visit the Tennessee Tech Intellectual Property website and the TBR Intellectual Property website.


Dealing with Stress in Grad School

Image result for Grad school stress

Feeling irritable? Performance in school slipping? Ready to just give up? Take a deep breath. You’re stressed.

Graduate school can be one of the most stressful times of a person’s life, particularly if the student has other responsibilities such as work or a family.

Dealing with stress in graduate school is nearly inevitable given the volume of reading and research students are expected to complete. Graduate students should anticipate a certain amount of stress, but aid is available for those who need help with ways to deal with stress.

Stress is an emotional and bodily reaction to physical, physiological or emotional demands. The two main types of stress are eustress and distress. Eustress keeps a person feeling alert and is often a motivator. Distress occurs when the body overreacts to events and can cause health problems.

What’s ailing you

Many grad students dealing with stress suffer from burnout and emotional exhaustion or fatigue. Emotional fatigue can profoundly affect student performance and personal commitment. Most grad students struggle with emotional fatigue at some point, and it leads some to abandon schooling completely.

Stress can be caused by lack of time, financial pressure or an excessive workload. Students who feel a lack of balance and free time are prone to feeling stress. In addition, those who feel they are not receiving enough support from professors and family members often end up feeling stressed.

Dealing with stress in grad school can sometimes boil down to a simple issue of time management, and if a job and family are added to the equation, the situation can worsen. Stress can result from feeling stuck in the monotonous day-to-day and from feeling that you are not moving ahead in life. It is also tied tightly to expectations – whether they are expectations you have of yourself or those that others have of you.

Stress is both a physiological and cognitive issue. Graduate students experiencing burnout may develop physiological symptoms such as decreased stamina, interrupted sleep patterns and weight gain or loss. Other symptoms include psychosomatic complaints, substance abuse and increased blood pressure.

The cognitive elements of stress and emotional fatigue include depression, isolation/passivity, marital/family conflict and aggression. Other elements include rigidity, mental illness and poor self-esteem. These physiological and cognitive issues can lead to a decline in the quality of schoolwork, a change in plans for a degree, harm to interpersonal relationships and jeopardized career plans.


When dealing with stress in school, students must first acknowledge the stress they are feeling for what it is. With the right combination of coping styles and support, stress can be alleviated. Stressed-out students need to be in tune with themselves and their own internal alarms and red flags. Ask yourself questions like:

Have I been neglecting the things I enjoy doing in favor of my studies?

Is my schoolwork suffering from how I feel?

Do I feel as if I am overexerted?

Asking questions and assessing yourself can help you gain perspective and realize that you do not have to be perfect. You can use many coping styles to deal with stress, and managing your time is one of the most helpful. While this may initially sound like a pain, you should try to schedule everything, including some free time, and write that schedule down. Once you have compartmentalized and prioritized your responsibilities, you can come up with a better plan of attack to get them met.

It is imperative that you not allow stress in school to cause you to live an unhealthy lifestyle.

Stay Healthy

You need the proper amount of rest as well as nutritious meals. Do not skip food and sleep to get something done, especially since your work will suffer from it. You will always be able to find some opportunity to take a nap, even if it’s only for 30 minutes, and to pack down some sort of snack while studying.

Just say No

Learning to say “no” is another crucial way of coping with stress, and planning is key in helping you find the ability to do so. You simply cannot do everything, and quality time for yourself is important when dealing with stress.

Write it down

Keeping a journal can be helpful, as you have the opportunity to analyze destructive statements and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Attitude is extremely important in dealing with stress. Stress-busting attributes include self-confidence, patience and punctuality. You should try to remain positive and have some fun. Your thoughts feed your feelings and actions, so don’t dwell on past decisions, just move forward.

Talk it out with friends

Fostering relationships and networking can help you deal with stress. Seek out a classmate with whom you have something in common, as it is likely he or she is dealing with similar stressors. Avoid relationships with people who tempt you to shirk your responsibilities, and look for people who make you feel good about yourself. Reaching out can be the best thing for you.

It’s to be expected

Dealing with stress in school is common in grad school, and you are not alone. A recent study by the American College Health Association found that 75 percent of college students feel overwhelmed. We all function best with a certain amount of stress in our lives, but when it becomes too much, we become burnt out. However, life is not a race and should not be treated as such. You should expect unanticipated interruptions, especially if you have a family.

The best time to study is during the period of the day during which you feel the most energetic. We all have our own individual times when we are most physically and mentally alert, so you should schedule classes and study sessions during those times to maximize your effectiveness.

Most grad students are by nature driven, high achievers, and that fosters an environment vulnerable to stress. Sometimes it is helpful to emulate those who seem naturally resistant to stress. These people focus on immediate issues and assume their problems are temporary. They also tend to be optimistic and give themselves credit for a job well-done. Also, you have to recognize that just because you’ve been a straight “A” student your entire life does not mean you should expect a 4.0 in grad school. Schoolwork is different, expectations are different and results are different. Grades don’t matter as much as what you actually learn, so don’t lose your mind if you get a “B” on your first research paper. You’re still smarter than most of your peers, and you’re still setting yourself up for a terrific and successful future.

If you are dealing with stress in school and cannot find relief, perhaps you should seek professional help. After all, it is important to realize what stress really is. Stress is a challenge and an occurrence that promotes growth. Stress is also a natural event that can be viewed as humorous if you have the right attitude.

But stress is also the number-one health problem in the United States. For more information on how to deal with stress, and make sure it doesn’t affect your health, visit http://www.stress.org and the American Psychological Association online.

Don’t worry, you can get through this. Just keep telling yourself it’s not that bad. It’s not that bad.


Source: https://www.gradschools.com/get-informed/surviving-graduate-school/dealing-stress/stop-stress-right-its-tracks

Essential Items to Have as a Grad Student

Gone are the days of sleeping late, partying early, and attending only half of your classes.

You are now a graduate student and the expectations are just a bit higher. It’s time to step up your game and be prepared in every manner speaking. So why not ensure you have all the essential items you need to succeed in grad school with you at all times.

Purchase a Lightweight Laptop

Do you want to show up to class taking notes in a notebook or a monster of a laptop? Bite the bullet and get yourself a super lightweight, easy to transport laptop or tablet hybrid. Make sure you can type on it easily and it gets good battery life. This is the single most important tool you can invest in that will help you stay organized and on top of your work throughout your grad school experience. Plus you’ll just look cooler and more in the know if you take the time to research this purchase and make a great investment. Visit PC World for reviews and comparisons.

It’s all in the Bag

Once you have your laptop purchased, find yourself a great bag. Look for something that suits your personality while at the same time presents a professional image. Take time with this purchase and check out different bags. Find one you love that also has the right amount of compartments and space to help keep you organized. You want to be able to access whatever you are looking for quickly.

Yes, You Need Business Cards

You are going back to graduate school to become a professional. One of the most significant things you can gain during the experience is an enhanced network of friends in your field of interest. Take advantage of your time there and be sure to let people know who you are. You can get business cards in a lot of places but probably the easiest and least expensive route for professional looking cards is VistaPrint. Take the time before you begin class, to put your details together in one of their great business card templates. Make sure you have a strong and professional email address for this purpose.

Other Tech Gadgets

You will find it invaluable to have with you an ipod, headphones and a USB stick. Music during downtime, or to block out unwanted noise while studying is great, but you can also use it to listen to audiocasts regarding all kinds of subject matter. If your phone works just as well as an ipod, save the room in your bag, but don’t forget about the headphones. A USB stick will be incredibly helpful in sharing files, notes and assignments with your classmates. Buy some that are inexpensive and have a few handy at all times that you won’t mind lending out. Try to get the ones with attached covers so you never have to worry about losing that part of it.

Band-Aids, Cough Drops & Advil Oh My!

Chances are that you, or one of your classmates, will require these items at some point in the upcoming semesters. There is nothing worse than having to sit through a long class with a pounding headache or persistent cough or having to go out of your way to find a band-aid. Aside from your own well being, this is an opportunity to be prepared. Be the person that people go to if they need help. It’s just one more way to build up your network of friends and acquaintances.

A Water Bottle…and Not the Kind That Ends up in Landfills

It is a given that your time in grad school will be incredibly busy and very stressful. Throughout the experience, it’s important to make sure you take care of yourself. One of the easiest and best ways of doing this is to stay hydrated. Most of us don’t drink nearly enough water and this is worsened by stress and busy schedules. Make a point to have a refillable water bottle with you at all times and stay hydrated so you can be at your best throughout the day.

Source: https://www.gradschools.com/get-informed/surviving-graduate-school/life-during-graduate-school/whats-your-bag-essential-items