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Student Spotlight – Jalen Talley

He started out as a trumpet player in sixth grade, but Jalen Talley, ’17 music education, always felt more like a tuba player. When his high school band was looking for tuba players, Talley says he “just picked it up and never put it down.”

That was his senior year of high school. He knew he wanted to be a musician, but hadn’t thought a lot about how it would play out. One of the instructors Talley met through his involvement with band at his high school in Oak Ridge, Tenn. had been a part of the Tech tuba ensemble in the 1980s and told Talley about R. Winston Morris, the university’s internationally recognized tuba and euphonium instructor.

“Then I saw a special on TV about him and thought ‘I guess this guy really is a big deal,’” Talley said. So, he applied at Tech and auditioned for Morris.

It was a tough audition, Talley said. Morris told Talley he “could play a little,” but he saw potential and helped Talley get into the music program.

Since coming to Tech, he has had the opportunity to tour the east coast, play two international performances and perform in Carnegie Hall.

“I didn’t know when I applied here that I would be playing in Carnegie Hall before I was 21,” Talley said. “No one ever told me that I would get to do all of this. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

And his relationship with Morris is something he finds especially valuable.

“He has taught me everything I know about tuba, everything I use anyway,” Talley said, “He is more than a teacher to me. What he has done for me is so much more than that.”

Talley’s talent is evident in the awards and honors he has received at Tech.

Recently, Talley was the first African-American student to win the Joan Derryberry Memorial Concerto Competition, which allowed him to perform as a soloist with the Bryan Symphony Orchestra.

“I will always be a tuba player,” Talley said. “As long as I have it, I will play it. It honestly feels like it was meant to be and that Tech is where I was meant to be.”


Source: https://www.tntech.edu/spotlight/student/jalen-talley


Committed Relationships and Grad School

Maintaining a committed relationship while attending graduate or professional school can be complex and challenging.

The reality is, your relationship is simultaneously a source of support and a source of demanding responsibilities. The tension between these two dimensions can pose some significant threats to a thriving relationship. To minimize these threats and actually grow closer during demanding times, it’s important to keep some main goals in mind.

There is a challenging complexity to being in a committed relationship while attending Graduate School or a Professional School (such as Law School or Medical School). At the most basic level, the challenge emerges from the reality that your relationship is, simultaneously a Source of Support and a Source of Demanding Responsibilities.

The tension between these two dimensions can pose some significant threats to the thriving and surviving of your relationship. To minimize these threats and actually grow closer during the demanding time that graduate and professionals schools are part of your lives, it’s important to keep some main goals in mind.

Engage in Open and Honest Communication and Planning

To minimize problems and to enhance your relationship, communicate before and during challenging times.  Communication, however, is not simply a matter of exchanging information (although that is an important part of a respectful relationship). Communication about one’s feelings is also important. Letting your partner know the emotions you have about a situation, even one you may have agreed to accept, can be just as important as letting each other know what time you’ll be home. In addition, communicating your sensitivity to your partner’s thoughts and feelings, is also important. Otherwise, invisible resentment can start to accumulate and not get expressed until the situation does not seem to match the emotions at the time.  

Sometimes, simply communicating verbally isn’t enough, especially given the busy life of being in graduate or professional school. Keeping a calender or some other tool to help plan together, as much as possible, can help alleviate the strain that results when you made need to change some plans. This also helps acknowledge the disappointment, not to mention keep track of how often disappointments are happening.  

Set Boundaries

Learn to recognize the appropriate times to set boundaries between your self and your program of study.  Without such boundaries, any program can present enough demands to usurp all of your time, doing so in a way that appears absolutely necessary.  Also, it is important to recognize the boundaries needed between yourself and your partner.  As with any relationship, having each of you involved in other dimensions of your lives (including friends, hobbies, work or school) keeps the relationship from becoming too enmeshed, putting so much pressure on the relationship to maintain each person’s sense of worth and competence.

Remember to Negotiate

Acknowledge and plan for the unique demands of being in graduate level training.  Because your partner will often need to compromise times he/she expected you to invest in your relationship, it is best to be aware of the situations that may require negotiation.

–Irregular hours of school

–Abrupt and/or intense academic demands and sudden changes in priorities

–Un-anticipated work activities for professors

–Unscheduled social activity with school peers needing to maintain a cohesive bond to support each other.

This is a lot to expect from a partner or spouse without offering something to balance things out.  When asking for your partner to make a sacrifice, offer when, specifically, you will be able to give something to the partner and your relationship to balance out the scales of compromise.

Know When to Re-Negotiate and Re-Assess

When unable to keep promises made in recent compromises, it becomes critical to collaboratively re-assess the boundaries that had been put in place.  It also becomes critical to review the needs of the partner and the needs of the relationship when you feel you must re-negotiate something you had already agreed to do.

Attention and Support

Your partner may be having a hard time dealing with the many compromises made for the sake of your program demands.  Acknowledge this out loud.  Show an intentional and genuine interest in the emotions and activities of your partner’s life.  Set time aside, with no material related to your program in sight, and ask about your partner’s day.


Affection in the context of a rushed pace or a momentary endearment can often feel like a token rather than a genuine investment back into a relationship that is running low on emotional fuel.  If you have not enjoyed affection with your partner, “plan” some spontaneous affection.  Almost by its very essence, affection requires some degree of spontaneity.  However, the demands of graduate or professional study can leave you waiting  much longer than you realize for “a good time” and it may require some planning on your part to be emotionally available, with enough energy, to express how you feel through affection.

Help with Domestic Needs and Personal Projects

There is often an imbalance in chores and household duties because the graduate student has such irregular demands.  Rather than maintain the imbalance indefinitely, plan specific times when you can offer to assume the duties you often have to rely on your partner to assume.

Recognize and Talk Through Fear and Insecurity

Question automatic assumptions that you do not have enough time to fulfill your relationship needs. Sometimes, fear and insecurity about being in a competitive program is disguised as an overly conscientious work ethic. Question any perceived or assumed prohibition of vulnerabilities. Fears can emerge that having a relationship with its own needs may threaten your success. There may be a prevailing attitude in your program to re-enforce these fears. Work together with your partner to face the fears. The very person that may sometimes seem to threaten your success will likely provide you with the re-assurance that you need to succeed.

Graduate school and professional schools are challenging and rewarding experiences, contributing to your professional and your personal development.   The same is true of your committed relationships. If you need support and want to attend to your relationships needs with professional guidance, feel free to call us at 660-1000. CAPS offers assessment, individual or couples counseling, and relationship enhancement workshops. We want you to succeed, in all the domains of your life.

Source: https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/caps/self-help/committed-relationships-grad-school

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