Category Archives: school

An Academic’s Summer Vacation

Stack of books as I study for the comprehensive exam, sociology graduate school
http://edudemic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/stack-of-books.jpg

I am done grading finals... done writing papers… and done with Spring Term. Yay!! Summer vacation here I come!!

Except… although I will have time to do cool stuff like camping, hiking, fishing… and running I will also be studying. I know! What kind of nightmarish summer vacation requires studying? Last summer was spent studying for the research project I had for the master’s paper. This summer I will study for the comprehensive exam. For those who do not know, the comprehensive exam is an exam to prove that I have “comprehensive” knowledge over one sub-field in sociology. If I pass, I can then continue onto my PhD work. If I fail, I can try to get a job with my Masters degree.

I am looking forward to being done with graduate school. I certainly do not have a “failure to launch” syndrome when it comes to graduate school. I do not want to spend 15 years as a graduate student doing research. I want to be done as soon as possible so that I can be teaching at a college and/or working at a nonprofit. Helping people is what matters to me… and the comprehensive exam is a stepping stone to that goal.

Anyway… the topic for my comprehensive exam is about the environment… specifically, understanding how political and economic decisions impact the environment, and how those environmental impacts create health problems for humans. Doesn’t that sound like an exciting summer vacation? Yeah, well… exciting for an academic and exciting for a college freshman are two different things đŸ˜‰

Wish me luck… and have a great day!

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Do you own a Microsoft Surface tablet? — Buying Advice / Shopping Help

Do You Own a Microsoft Surface tablet?
Source: http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/productID.275275300

So… my laptop has been very glitchy the last few weeks. It does not have a virus… but it has a limited amount of memory, and it wasn’t great to begin with because cheap was all that I could really afford on a college budget. Well… it has served me through my first two years of graduate school (and helped write the Master’s Paper). Heck, this laptop has even traveled to the Philippines and back with me. But I am now looking into upgrading my laptop to a Microsoft Surface.

  1. I want more memory. My laptop has 2 GB… the base Surface RT has 32 GB, but I will probably get the 64 GB.
  2. I want a machine that will not choke under pressure. My laptop, twice, flipped out in the middle of important class presentations. I don’t know if you have ever had to give an entire presentation from memory… but I have had to do it twice. It is NOT fun. I think my laptop just got nervous though… because it was fine during practice… but when it came time to actually perform, the laptop folded under the stress and left me hanging. My concern with the Surface RT is that I have heard there is a learning curve with the new Windows 8. I think the learning curve is what brings the Apple Ipad into the picture… because no matter which one I get, it appears there will be a learning curve. Thoughts?
  3. I want a computer that does not freeze up. One of the reasons I have not been blogging as much is because sometimes my computer has just had enough. I do not think it is overheating… I just think it was an out-of-shape computer to begin with, and keeping up with the demands I need at graduate school level was a little much for this thing. So… when I lose an hour or more a day because of my glitchy laptop, it does cut into blogging time. NOTE: Our wireless has also been cutting out. I think the laptop freezing and the wireless cutting out are two unrelated problems, because my laptop does not need to be at home to have a freezing issue.
  4. I want something lighter. Hiking across campus to teach a class, and then hiking across campus to attend a different class, with a medium size laptop is not fun. I am hoping the Microsoft Surface will be the answer to my grad school needs… but I am still in the decision making process.
  5. FINANCIAL ISSUES: This is where it gets confusing, and if you have a tax answer, I would love to hear it. I read, somewhere, that for a computer to be tax deductible it needs to be purchased during the school year. Okay… I feel like my laptop will last through the summer… maybe, and give me time to get the new Surface in the fall. However, if there is a learning curve (see #2), then I don’t want to walk into class with a brand new gadget and look incompetent in front of students while I try to learn. If I buy the tablet over the summer, even if I want to use it for school, it might not be tax deductible for education related expenses. I hate tax laws.
  6. The other financial issue… the Surface is currently running a special that ends June 30th, to buy the tablet and get the keyboard with it for free ($119 value). I’m not sure if that matters as much… because if I waited until the fall to buy it, the price for the tablet itself may drop anyway. It would be nice if I just had $900 laying around the house that I could just spend without worry… but I am a graduate student, so going out to eat anywhere is a big deal.

Anyway debate is between the Microsoft Surface and the Apple Ipad 4 (or a new laptop). I want something that will last until the end of my dissertation. Should I get a laptop? Should I get a tablet with a keyboard? It’s not like I don’t have enough to think about while in graduate school. What would you recommend? Thanks!! đŸ™‚

Changing Locations to Finish My Thesis (a writing mini-retreat)

Happy Coffee
http://funny.funnyoldplanet.com/funny/happy-coffee/

My goal is to finish (or darn near finish) my master’s paper: TODAY!

But I am taking a short break from writing my master’s thesis to blog because blogging relieves stress and unleashes some creative awesomeness. As part of today’s thesis writing marathon, I decided to change locations from where I normally write/study. I chose a coffee shop instead of my desk at home, and instead of my campus office.

According to a post by the Thesis Whisperer, there has been ample research to suggest that taking a thesis writing retreat will benefit the writing process. The change of location can be invigorating. So here I am at a coffee shop for a mini-retreat. However, for my dissertation… I might take a month somewhere. I have already floated the idea to my wife and she seems interested. For her the “no” factor is always money… which makes sense. But the “yes” factor for her is travel because travel is fun.

I am thinking Seattle, Portland, New York City or Chicago could all be great places for a month long retreat. Almost anywhere in Colorado could work.

Have you ever taken a retreat (or mini-retreat) to finish a major project? How did it work out for you?

WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT YOU MISSPELLED AN IMPORTANT WORD ON YOUR APPLICATION:

I love this website called When In Academia. Some days this is the only thing that breaks the grad school drudgery. Below is an example:

WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT YOU MISSPELLED AN IMPORTANT WORD ON YOUR APPLICATION:

WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT YOU MISSPELLED AN IMPORTANT WORD ON YOUR APPLICATION:

What are the Best Ways to Handle Criticism?

Sheldong Fainting, how to respond to an avalanche of constructive criticism
Sheldon Fainting, “The Big Bang Theory”

Is it every writers nightmare to receive comments and multiple revision suggestions on every page of a submission? Continue reading What are the Best Ways to Handle Criticism?