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Our Not So Perfect (But Special) Wedding Day

The day has finally come. I got married to the man of my dreams!

After delaying the wedding until 2019 and changing the date around multiple times, we finally decided to have a courthouse wedding on November 30th, 2018. We invited only our closest family members and had an intimate dinner reception after the ceremony.

Our wedding day was overwhelming to say the least. My now husband and I spent the morning picking up my cousin from her house so she could spend the day with us and attend the wedding that night. I underestimated how quickly the day would go by. The wedding ceremony was supposed to be around 3:30 p.m., and we spent the beginning of that day running around doing last minute errands such as picking up the wedding cake and going to the venue to make sure it was set up for the dinner that night. When we finally got back to the house to get ready, it was around 1:45 p.m. I still had to take a shower, attempt to do my hair and makeup, and get last minute things together for th…

4 Tips on How to Survive Grad School

I started graduate school August of 2018. If you'd like to know more about my undergraduate degree and how I got into a master's program, feel free to read my other blog post titled, "Getting a Nutritional Science Degree." In December of 2019, I graduated with a Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Applied Nutrition, which is an all online program through the University of Arizona (U of A). Going into the start of this program, I had no idea what to expect. Over the past year and a half, I have learned a few tips and tricks on how to survive graduate school.

In my experience, the major difference between undergraduate and graduate school is that there are fewer tests and quizzes in graduate school. Instead, there are more discussion posts, group assignments, papers, and research projects. Almost every assignment I have done in my master's program has required me to use peer-reviewed journal articles to support my response to the prompt. This also means I have spent quite a bit of time learning how to do references for various papers or assignments. This leads to my first tip.

Tip #1: Use resources available to you.

There are so many resources out there to help you. When I started graduate school, I had little experience citing my references. I had only ever used MLA format and thought that was the only format I needed to know. I have been in grad school for a year and still haven't used MLA format; I have only used AMA or JN (Journal of Nutrition) format, but the format you will use depends on your area of study.  I have spent plenty of time looking at different websites trying to figure out how to cite journal articles using different citation styles.

I have had a few great professors that have a "resource" section on my school's online platform that have been helpful when writing citations. Also, Citation Machine (http://www.citationmachine.net) has been a lifesaver when working on references. You pick the appropriate citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.), whether it's a website, journal article, book, or another source of information, and then copy and paste the website or title of the journal article that was used. Citation Machine will either auto-fill the information based on the website or journal article title provided, or the information can be manually entered.

Although Citation Machine isn't perfect, it is a great start when creating references. I usually have the information auto-filled, but I go through and double-check that the information provided is accurate. For example, many citation styles require that the journal article title be in sentence format meaning only the first word in the title is capitalized unless a proper noun is used. Journal names may also need to be abbreviated, so instead of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition it should be "Am J Clin Nutr."An easy way to find out how to abbreviate various journals is to type in the name of the journal along with the word "abbreviation" into Google. The first few websites that come up usually say what the journal abbreviation should be.

Tip #2: Don't procrastinate.

I know this is the number one tip people give you when you start college, but I didn't realize its importance until the last couple of months. I have always been the worst procrastinator. I would do all of my assignments the same day they were due. I would study for all of my tests the morning of or the night before. This worked for me throughout college, but it was not the best way to go about things. Try to get your assignments done early, especially if they are group assignments. There have been multiple times where my group waited until the last minute to submit an assignment online and something went wrong such as the website being down or one of my group members having an emergency which prevents them from completing their part of the assignment before the deadline. Turn your assignments in or post your response to the discussion questions at least a day early to prevent unnecessary stress and give you time to go back and make changes or resubmit the assignment on the due date if needed.

Tip #3: Do your work in an environment without distractions.

I personally have always struggled with completing my schoolwork at home. Although my home is relatively quiet, it's hard for me to sit still and focus. I am constantly getting up to get a snack, clean the house, or do any other task I can think of that is not as important as getting my work done. During grad school, I liked to spend a few hours each week at a coffee shop to study or work on assignments. It wasn't always the quietest place, but at least I focused on getting my work done since I had no other distractions except seeing people enter and exit the building.

Some people have a harder time working at a coffee shop than they do at home, so that may not be the best option for you. It doesn't matter where you decide to study as long as you are free from distractions and feel productive and motivated in your environment.

Tip #4: Don't forget to enjoy yourself.

Grad school is tough and should be taken seriously. A good amount of time should be allotted to schoolwork each week to stay on top of your assignments and meet deadlines. However, grad school should not be your whole life; it's just a part of your life. I remember spending countless hours on certain assignments while my peers did the bare minimum, and I still received the same grade (as long as all components of the rubric were met). Over the years, I have heard the phrase, "Work smarter, not harder." I feel like I have finally grasped what that means.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to do the bare minimum to barely pass a class. Just don't put so much time and energy into perfecting every single assignment that other important areas of your life suffer. Make time to enjoy yourself. Go on walks. Hangout with your friends and family. Do some self-care. Sometimes grad school can wait.


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