|My Cohort Chums getting their learn on.|
I was a little reluctant at first to reflect too much on my semester. It’s easy to be pessimistic when the stress is taking over your emotions. For a while I was getting really down on myself because for the first time in my life I wasn’t one of the students at the top. Or even in the middle. Even during my Master’s there was a pretty even playing field and it wasn’t difficult to get all A’s. Penn State is a whole other level of educational adventures. No, I’m not going to be the top student in my cohort. But, my undergraduate mentor, Albert Meier, was always fond of telling his students to take credit for their work at least three times. I am the one that has ventured so far outside of my comfort zone that I can barely see my precious old zone full of security and science. I am the one that improved over 60 points from one of my midterm exams to the final. I am the one who organized homework sessions and study sessions and grad student development workshops. It’s so important to not let yourself ignore your own achievements, especially during tougher times.
|Rachel and I being almost as cute|
as Garcia during a Skype Chat.
Looking towards the future is always my favorite part. Well needed breaks from school are usually just what I need to get re-motivated for the path ahead. I’m heading into part two of what very well may be the single most difficult year of schoolings of my entire life and I want to have my head on right. My department’s PhD program had undergone some recent changes that went into effect with my class, so everyone is a bit frazzled, but also very open to making changes. I like that my experiences (however tough) and feedback are very much valued within the department. My main goal for this semester is to be vocal with my questions. I'm usually the one in the front row with my hand raised in classes, but I've been letting myself get more and more intimidated by professors and classes so I stopped asking as many questions. But no more! My new classes and professors have been very enjoyable and I can already tell I'm feeling more comfortable and confident.
There's lots of events and programs that I want to be more involved with in the future. However, I do need to be mindful of my time and try not to spread myself too thin. A quick talk with your advisor/supervisor can help you settle on a plan of action. I talked with my academic advisor and we agreed that I'll hold off on starting any research projects until this summer, after hopefully PASSING all three sections of my quals. I really want to focus long term on increasing my leadership roles within the department and university, but I will have to keep that to a minimum for now. It's really frustrating to have to hold off on a lot of these tasks and goals that I feel personally better suited to, but mastering the foundation of the content is my number one priority!
- Give yourself credit when it's due!
- Figure out the best way to keep yourself motivated and focused.
- Don't be afraid to say no or not now to opportunities.
- Communicate with your cohort/fellow graduate students.
- Eye on the prize.
- Don't be afraid to speak up and ask questions!
- Communicate your plan with your advisor/supervisor.
Best to luck to everyone on their new semester!