The hardest part about sitting down to write is the actual beginning of making the clackity sound on the keyboard. I can get myself in the chair. I can turn on my machine. I can cruise around on the Internet, and type up a blog post or two about being in graduate school. But when it comes to getting into the nitty gritty of writing the dissertation, starting is the hardest part.
Most Recent Articles
March 11, 2012
March 8, 2012
We are pleased to announce the launch of The Gradhacker Podcast! Alex Galarza and Andrea Zellner co-host Episode 1: Flipping the Classroom, in which they interview Dr. Ken Frank, a professor at Michigan State who has employed the technique of ‘Flipping the Classroom’ in his courses. They also discuss a number of blog posts including: “Publishing Your Presentations Online”,“Negotiating the Dating Scene in Grad School”, and “Branding Yourself: Not as Painful as You Think”.
March 6, 2012
Here at Gradhacker, we've written about online identity and the use of Twitter before. In this post, I thought I'd tackle less of the "how to use Twitter" and move into the idea of leveraging the power of Twitter to improve your online presence and academic identity. I also can resist making new words with "tw" in the front of them.
March 5, 2012
Control is important, we need to be able to balance a number of lives as grad students, maintain multiple fellowships and jobs, work on our research as well as ace our classes, and make a good impression in the department as well as the broader discipline. Our success comes from the close control over every aspect of our professional and academic lives: mapping out every minute of our week into our Google calendars, tracking assignments through various iPhone apps, using Zotero to organize every bibliographic reference, and keeping up with the professionals through every social media site we can think of. This is good, it keeps us grounded. So here's the problem: you can't control everything.
March 2, 2012
This past August, I sat my doctoral comprehensive exams. It was a grueling, exhausting process, and the months leading up to the exams were some of the most stressful of my life. I don’t think that I have ever cried so much in my life; from exhaustion, stress, fear, and from the worst bout of impostor syndrome I had felt since beginning grad school. Comprehensive exams are a massive, daunting undertaking, one that marks the transition from coursework and being a student to dissertating and being a candidate.
February 28, 2012
So, to protect my own fragile ego, I like to have practice runs of my big presentations in more casual events--but not where the entire audience is made up of my friends and family. Brown bags are a great resource for practicing your presentation, building your confidence, and sharing your research. We have them on campus all the time and they give you an opportunity to present your materials in a somewhat casual, but somewhat formal setting. Sometimes you'll get some friendly and familiar faces in the crowd, but more often than not, it simulates the "real thing" in a more effective setting than sitting in front of a mirror and practicing your speech.
February 26, 2012
Let’s face it--a lot of us in graduate school are perfectionists. I could go a step farther and argue a lot of us made it into graduate school in part because of our perfectionism. Graduate school is exactly the kind of environment where perfectionism thrives. There’s a constant striving to tackle our significant workloads without error and folly. There's the pressure to publish well and often. There's the pressure to do something that's never been done before. We’ve got lots of people counting on us--students, colleagues, professors--and of course, those same people are constantly watching us and will know when we’ve screwed up. Comparing ourselves to others is, like biting nails, a bad and nervous habit that we could quit if we only could relax a little.
February 23, 2012
The smartphone has become a regular part of my daily workflow, and I find myself using it regularly for To Do lists, email, reminders, and keeping up to date on news and such. Recently, I've found a couple of apps that have been particularly helpful in keeping me on track, so I thought I'd share them with you all. There are some similarities in these apps: they all do one thing and one thing only, and they place a premium on doing those things as quickly as possible, so you can spend less time on your phone, and more time doing other things. Also, most of them have reminder systems built in, so you don't forget to use them to do the things you want to do. As a side note: I'm an iPhone user, and I've done my best to find alternative apps for other smartphones. Please use the comment field to add any useful alternatives for other platforms!
February 21, 2012
The traditional model of the lecture and learning cycle has long been to deliver the lecture during class and to send students home to do homework and perhaps engage in a discussion or two afterwards. The flipped classroom flips this model on its head: through lecture capture software, lectures can be captured on video for students to watch home, freeing up class time for hands-on learning activities and discussion.
February 20, 2012
If you work in the humanities, you might want to check out the Newberry Library in Chicago. This research library has a number of core collections in American history and culture, American Indian and Indigenous studies, Chicago and the Midwest, history of the book, and Medieval and Renaissance studies. These collections include manuscripts, maps, images, music, and are supported by numerous secondary source materials.