The end of another term has arrived! Though it seems that a lot of schools are out for break, a few of you probably still have your week full of sole-crushing final exams to look forward to. My heart goes out to all of you because I think we can all agree that test-taking kind of sucks and most feel they’re just not very good at it in the first place! However, I feel that test taking is an art that can definitely be taught. And once mastered, school definitely gets a lot easier.
I’ve said it once (many times, actually) and I’ll say it again: academia can be a really shitty place when it comes to your mental health. Yes, your academic adventures can result in a variety of extremely rewarding experiences–there’s no doubt about that–but when your forced to survive this high-stress environment that expects you to juggle heavy workloads, long hours and high expectations on top of the rest of your adult life… Let’s just say that even the most dedicated students can start succumbing to the pressure.
When I applied to the NSF Fellowship the first two times, I was just in the midst of switching fields and starting grad school. As such, I didn’t have a research project, nor did I have any real knowledge of what kind of research was going on in my new field. So, when fellowship season came around and I was was asked to write a “novel” research proposal, I just about panicked. How would I ever come up with legitimate research question in a field I was unfamiliar with?
Now, one year later I am being forced to come up with research questions for candidacy–on topics not even related to my research! So, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how I’m planning on approaching this, in hopes that it might help some of you in similar predicaments.
Back in my senior year of college, I took a graduate class that required me to summarize one or two research articles a week. Though I absolutely hated it at a time (mostly because I hadn’t yet figured out how to read research papers yet), I found that it became an invaluable skill. What better way to make sure that you understand a research paper than condensing its many pages into a measly paragraph or two?
I have been doing a lot of reading lately. A lot of reading. I’ve been scouring through the literature so I can have a solid foundation before/while I write my NSF fellowship proposal for this year…the last year I can apply. However, as I’ve been reading, I’ve noticed that my methods of going through my many, many piles of papers has changed since this time last year. Perhaps it’s because instead of reading just to read, I’m actually reading for information; to appear like less of a dumbass in my field. And because my methods have changed so much since the last time I wrote about this, I asked Tumblr if I wanted to see an updated version of this kind of post and I got an astounding:
So here we are…Again.
I shall note that the following tips are just what happens to work for me at this point in my academic career and I’m still modifying my methods as I go along (so stay tuned for next year?). This is probably a good reading technique if you’re just gathering background information, but may not necessarily work if you’re combing through methodology or doing anything more critical… Either way, I’m simply hoping that if anyone is struggling to read papers, this or last year’s post can at least provide good starting points in order to develop your own way of reading papers. Anyway, moving on!
I made a request a week ago for blog posts ideas, and this was one that made me extremely excited to write because I struggle with this all the time. In fact, when I went to a therapist to deal with anxiety issues, this was probably the number one things that was talked about during our sessions.
What was the question?
Hopefully when you’re reading this I’ll be somewhere in Washington DC on vacation, so even though I got some amazing blog posts ideas this week on Tumblr, I thought I’d start off September with something a bit more chill and talk about how I plan to organize my life this year.
This is essentially a compilation of all the organizational techniques I either developed last year or am trying out this year. It’s just simple tricks I use to make my planning and organization of the billions of sheets of papers I go through just a little bit less overwhelming.
There wasn’t any doubt I would go to college one day. Learning was my past time. My passion. The sheer idea that I would someday be able to attend an institution dedicated to acquiring knowledge was like a dream come true. I couldn’t wait! But, honestly, if I was being completely truthful that wasn’t the full reason of why I wanted to go to college. After all, I could see right in front of me just how much more difficult life is for those who don’t have a degree. I didn’t want that life. I wanted something better.
It seems that there is always a point in the school terms where everything feels like it’s piling up at once. Deadline after deadline approaches at lightning speeds and honestly all you want to do is catch your breath. I feel that 90% of the student population goes through this. Trust me. I’m going through this at this very second (and yet here I am writing a blog post, but I digress). Anyway, though this may be a little too late for those reaching the end of their quarters right now, I present to you my hard-earned advice
that I wish I listened to on how to prevent that end of the semester chaos that brings stress levels to an all time high. Continue reading
Periods. They can be uncomfortable and annoying to deal with. Unfortunately, though, life doesn’t stop for your period and those times of discomfort can arrive during times when term papers are due, exams are quickly approaching and studying just needs to get done. So, here are some things I do when I’m on my period in order to ease the symptoms and keep my mind sharp and focused! Continue reading