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Grad School

So… I’ve spent the first six months in 2014 trying to decide whether I wanted to do a thesis or not. In the graduate program for speech-pathology, this is optional, so we have a choice. I asked around; students who did do one felt incredibly gratified and fulfilled. Those who did not do one were happy they didn’t. So apparently it’s a win/win situation.

I’ve always believed that research is an integral part of any profession, especially in speech-language pathology. So much of our practice depends on current research. It’s a part of our Code of Ethics to consider future advocacy and evidence-based practice.

I sat down and came up with the following list:

YES THESIS:

  • Your resume is amplified by three thousand percent. Okay, well, maybe it just makes you look much more marketable.
  • It’s really fulfilling. God’s always on your side.
  • They open up areas you’d never dream about.
  • More networking opportunities because you work with professionals from different fields and different schools locally or globally.
  • Chances of getting a job increase.
  • You learn tons about gathering and conducting research.
  • People are more likely to take you seriously during and after working on said thesis.
  • You’re a foundation for future research.
  • You get to learn about something you’re really interested in!
  • Other issues are addressed through your research.
  • Major pride points when you’re done!
  • You get to present at conferences and everyone will offer you jobs (maybe.)
  • You may even get PUBLISHED.
  • You give others the opportunities to share in your successes (and non-successes).
  • Think of that Doctorate. Dr Liu? Yes.
  • You get great support from your advisors and your department.
  • It may be much harder to start if you decide to do one after you graduate.
  • More access to resources because you’re in school. Think of how many free articles you get thanks to the Library.

NO THESIS:

  • They’re definitely not as easy as they seem.
  • How will you ever decide what to do?
  • The Institutional Review Board is another process in itself.
  • Dat defense at the end
  • A doctorate really isn’t in store for you. Isabella Liu, M.S. CCC-SLP vs. Isabella Liu, PhD. M.S. CCC-SLP??
  • Funding is really hard to get. Both for the class, and for recruiting participants if you’re doing some controlled trials.
  • You’ll have to collaborate with other institutions if you need more resources.
  • Longitudinal studies are exactly what they seem… long.
  • You may have to start over from scratch.
  • You’re still in school and working jobs when you’re doing your research.
  • You have to sift through as much as you can of all existing research to compile your literature review, and not every 15 to 20 page article is going to be easy to read.
  • Outdated sources are still credible to a certain extent so you can’t automatically throw those to the side.
  • Your time will be eaten up by writing, writing, writing, reading, reading, reading…
  • You may not get a supervisor that’s always on the same page.
  • You reeeeaaalllllyyy don’t want to do one.

So… what do you think? It looks like the pros outweigh the cons. Some schools and departments make it a matriculation requirement, and I can see why. But when you have a choice, you’re faced with a tough decision that will eat up a lot of your time, but you have nothing to lose. I am reminded of the a quote from Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter lore: “Soon, we must choose between what is right, and what is easy.”

Guess that pretty much decides it, eh?

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As I approach my final year at Fontbonne, I have to start thinking about my life post-grad. Like most dietetics majors, I’ll be applying for an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics-certified internship this spring and then preparing to take my exam to become a Registered Dietitian. The internship selection process is notoriously cutthroat, so it helps to do everything you can to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the applicants.

One thing a lot of internship sites look for is a GRE score. The GRE (which stands for “Graduate Record Examination”) is a test that many people take when they complete their undergrad and want to start their Master’s degree. It’s basically like taking the ACT or SAT all over again. So guess what I did this past Wednesday? That’s right – I was taking the GRE!

It really wasn’t that bad. The hardest part for me was the math, which isn’t even conceptually hard (supposedly it’s all high school stuff) – but the questions can be tricky! And I did find myself a bit crunched for time during those sections as well.  Not that the test was short by any means; the whole process takes between 4 and 5 hours.

If you’ll be taking the GRE at some point, the most important thing to do is find your weak spots (whether they are math, English, or writing-related) and review. Doing some practice under time restrictions would be helpful as well. But the bottom line is that this is a standardized test. What do standardized tests do? Test how well you can take a standardized test. So just relax and do the best you can!

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This is my second to last semester as a grad student. Next semester I will be doing my student teaching.  I quit my 9-5 job to focus on school.  I thought  now that I am not working I would have all the free time in the world. This is not true! I have learned that for me being on a schedule is a good thing. Having large blocks of unfilled time during my day started off as procrastination time.

What this semester has taught me the most is balance your time. Prioritize. Before I quit work, my schedule was created by many other factors.  Now it is my choice to create and adhere to my schedule. Change can start off to be rocky but can be a wonderful learning experience in the end.

Happy Halloween!

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