Sunday, September 30, 2012

What do you do well? Exploring your strengths as a student

What are your strengths as a student? Are you a good writer? Good researcher? Good leader or contributor to group projects? Perhaps you are a good time manager. Pause for a moment and identify those strengths to yourself. Sometimes we dwell on those areas that we identify as weaknesses. That reflection can be important as we can work to improve. However, I think it is equally important to recognize our gifts.

Cheering you on in your work!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Apps for grad students

Free apps that help me be more productive in my research, writing, and work with graduate students:

Citation and source management:

Zotero - download citation information directly from web-based sources (enter others manually), build your citation database, Word plug-in allows you to insert formatted citations and generate reference list with ease. Free.

Document sharing:

Dropbox - Store your documents in the cloud so you can access them from any computer. Also useful for sharing big files with classmates or teachers. Free.

YouSendIt - Another app that is useful for sending files that are too big for email. Free version available.


Lucidchart - I just started using this in the past year and I love it! I have used it to make a number of diagrams for presentations and I find it to be an incredibly capable tool. Click here to apply for free education version (it says K-12, but they also give education accounts to those in higher education).


Eyejot - I love this tool! Send video messages -- more personal and energetic than email. Free version allows messages of up to one minute.

Doodle - Easy scheduling tool, great for setting up meetings for group projects. Free.

Note taking:

Evernote - A cloud-based note taking tool -- means you can access notes from any of your devices. Also allows you to tag notes - easier to find what you are looking for later. Free.

Social bookmarking:

Diigo - Tag and store your bookmarks so you can find important sites easily. Cloud-based so you can access them from any device. Group function allows you to share -- great for group projects. Also includes highlighting and commenting tools. Free.

Images (for presentation slides, etc):

Stock.xchng - extensive library of free images.

The Noun Project - web-based library of universal symbols. All are free for non-commercial use.

And two not-free (in fact shockingly expensive) apps that help me be more productive:

Things - task management for mac users. This is an elegantly simple yet sophisticated task management app. Quickly enter to-do items with due dates, tags, and notes. Also schedule recurring to-do items and group items under projects. Approximate prices -- Macbook version: $49. iPad version: $19. iPhone version: $9.99. Hard to believe it's worth it, but it has been worth it for me. I have Things on my macbook and phone and it helps me stay on top of all I need to do and also helps me to feel done at the end of a day when I've completed all that I intended to do.

One password - password manager. Easy to use. Saves me time because I don't have to scramble to figure out forgotten passwords. Mac version: $49. iPad and iPhone versions also available.

Please note, I am not affiliated with the makers or distributers of any of the above-mentioned apps.

What other apps do you use for school?

Cheering you on in your work,

Icon above from The Noun Project

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Writing Tutorial for Graduate Students

Here is a tutorial on writing for graduate school, created by Cecelia Munzenmaier at Drake University. Dr. Munzenmaier covers a range of important topics such as how to make an original contribution and meeting graduate school standards. Her post also includes a number of helpful links. Check it out!

A Writing Tutorial for Graduate Students

Monday, September 10, 2012

Feeling overwhelmed? Here are 4 strategies:

This is a repost from last year. It is the best summary I've written of the four strategies that I find most helpful.

The start of graduate school can certainly feel overwhelming. Here are a my top my top four strategies for dealing with feeling overwhelmed. I have listed some of these ideas in other posts, but I'm listing them here together all under this theme.

1. Make a weekly to do list... spend a few minutes with your syllabus and note exactly what you need to do for the next class. This will help you pull back from thinking about all the work over the course of the semester and instead to focus on the most immediate work.

2. Do something every day. Read even one chapter or part of a chapter. Begin an assignment. Heck, even just download articles. Do something. Find little chunks of time: lunch hour, get up early before work, read on the bus... see if you can carve out some extra time. These little bits of work will add up and will help you build and maintain momentum.

3. Take something off your plate. If you have a significant other or kids, ask for their help around the house (e.g. they do dishes while you have "study hall"). If you have a lot of outside of work commitments, this might be time to cut back.

4. Ask for help. If you are still having trouble managing, if it still feels overwhelming, talk with classmates to get ideas on how they are handling the work load. And definitely talk with your professor and/or someone in your academic skills center. Often, someone who is outside of your experience can help you assess and improve time management, work strategies, etc.

You can do this! Remember, many students have come before you, have felt just as overwhelmed, and have succeeded!

Cheering you on,

Monday, September 3, 2012

Feeling overwhelmed?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone. Grad students feel overwhelmed at this time of year for all kinds of reasons.

Are you a new student? You may feel overwhelmed in first classes upon hearing how much work is expected. This is natural.

Are you a returning student? If so, you may have realized this summer, just how hard you have to work in school to keep up. Fall semester is here. Scary. This is natural.

Are you continuing work, having not even had a break over the summer? You may feel tired. This is natural.

A first step to dealing with these feelings is to know that they are natural. You have a significant amount of work ahead and many of you also have job or career, family, and other responsibilities -- this combination is demanding. In coming weeks, I will post strategies to deal with these feelings. For now, know that you are not alone and that these feelings make sense given all that you are facing. Also know that generations of grad and adult students before you have felt this way and they have succeeded. You can do this!


Photo by HLS

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