Graduate School

Till Death (or graduation) Do You Part – Selecting a Research Topic

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The topics you studied in the general ed classes of your undergraduate years were one night stands; fun for the semester, but rarely thought about after. Selecting a research topic in grad school is the equivalent of dating in your late twenties; you’re looking for something serious that through all the toils and trials, will stand the test of time.

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Picking a subject that already has a fair amount of existing research is usually a smart way to begin your academic marriage. This probably seems counterproductive as you are thinking “Why would I pick something that already has been researched to death? What could I possibly discover.”As any experienced student will tell you, the starting point of all research papers is the literature review: the portion of the paper where you cite the works of people much smarter and more accomplished than yourself. One day, some wet behind the ears first year may be citing one of your many published works but for now, your professor is going to expect a certain number of citations to earn a passing grade. So while the 14th century mating habits of the indigenous people of Utah may sound like a winning topic, if your EBSCOhost search returns only three results, you my want to venture in a different direction.

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When you reach a certain age, you’re going to want to expand your family from just you and your partner, to a few children and maybe a corgi. As with your relationship, you’ll find it wise to select a topic in which you can branch out on during your time in your program. Keeping in mind you are selecting a thesis that you’ll be with from your intro class to your capstone, you most certainly will want one that will give you the most milage. My topic area of Greek Life has spawned research projects on diversity, privilege, academic success and hazing ethics. You and your topic will be expected to reproduce numerous times during your program, so pick one that is fertile.

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The most important aspect in choosing your topic area, is selecting something you are actually interested in. As with your significant other, you’re going to spend much time with your research topic. All of those long evenings hunched over your laptop in a coffee house or late nights closing down the library will be much more enjoyable if you’re studying something that piques and holds your attention. Just as passion fuels the fires of your romances, may it incite your academic pursuits as well.

5 Important Skills to Learn Before You Graduate

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There are some things you are definitely going to want to master before you finish college.  Finding a job after college is harder than ever and you want to be as prepared as possible.  You’ll likely start in an entry-level position and this list will prepare you for what lies ahead!

1. Photoshop

 photoshop

The world is becoming increasingly digital.  Any company you end up working for has a website and one or more social media accounts.  Photoshop is a great skill to have in your arsenal because it will likely come in handy for a great number of future projects.  Photoshop can help you create/adjust logos, flyers, newsletters, etc.  This is an excellent skill to have on a resume because potential employers will see it as a great asset!

2. Microsoft Office

microsoft office

This may seem obvious, but knowing all the ins and outs of Microsoft Office is essential.  Don’t just know how to use the basics of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, know how to use every feature of each program.  You’ll likely be using Microsoft Office a lot in whatever job you have and you’re going to want to know everything you can; it’ll make your professional life much easier!

3. How to Use a Copy Machine Extensively

Copy Machine

When you’re first starting out in your professional life, the Copier is going to be a big part of your routine.  The last thing you want is to be the person that breaks the copier or needs help using it; to avoid this, take the time to learn how to use all of the features of one of the copy machines on campus—it may not be the exact machine you will have at your future job but it is a great start.  Also look over the machine to know how to fix it when it jams and how to change the toner!

4. How to Write a Professional Email

email

 This is extremely important.  In most jobs, you will be corresponding with many different people and you want to always make a good, professional impression.  Whether it is an email between you and a co-worker, you and your boss, or you and a client/affiliate of the company, you want to make sure you come across as intelligent, organized, and professional.  This is also an important skill when you are emailing with a potential employer about an interview!

5. Social Media

social media

Learn the ins and outs of several social media platforms.  Most companies several social media accounts, so having a lot of knowledge about Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, etc. is really important.  Having these skills is also great for your resume.  If you notice that your company has yet to make an account for a social media platform that is or is becoming very popular, suggest that they make one and maybe even offer to create and run it for them.  This shows initiative and can lead to more opportunities and responsibilities!

The “What I Wish I Knew about Education Abroad” List for Students

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study-abroadAs the semester comes to an end, the majority of us are focused on surviving finals week and getting home for the holidays. However, many students, myself included, are preparing to spend time studying abroad for a few weeks, or even a semester. Although I am now very excited for my trip, my education abroad journey has not been all smooth sailing. There are a million and one things I wish I had known when I began planning my trip abroad. Here are just a few tips that I hope will make the process a little easier for anyone who is considering education abroad.

START EARLY: I repeat, do NOT wait until the last minute to start planning your trip (like I did). Although it’s not impossible to plan an education abroad trip last minute, it is definitely more difficult. If you are at all interested in studying abroad, go meet with an education abroad ASAP. Different programs have different requirements. It is absolutely never too early to get started!

 
Decide where you want to go: One of the most important education abroad decisions you will make is where to go. One of my majors is Spanish, so I chose to study in Seville, Spain in order to complete the requirements for my major. Many colleges offer many areas of stud. But, you need to think about which cultures and experiences will benefit you the most academically. No matter where you go, you will have a great time and make awesome memories, so make sure it’s going to pay off towards your degree.

Find a friend: Chances are, you know someone who has studied abroad in the past. Use them as a resource! Don’t annoy them of course, but ask them to get coffee or lunch with you someday so that you can ask them questions and advice.

Don’t let money stop you: If you’re anything like me, you may be hesitant about education abroad because you think you can’t afford it. Surprisingly, my semester abroad is going to cost me less than a semester at my home university. Now, this may not be the case for everyone. But I promise, education abroad fees include A LOT. And, you can usually apply any scholarships, loans or grants that you receive at your current school to education abroad fees. There are also TONS of scholarships available to students who want to go abroad.

Although a good GPA, campus involvement and leadership experience are all important aspects of an impressive resume, education abroad gives students an advantage over the rest. Employers and graduate programs love seeing that a student has studied abroad. Not to mention, I have never spoken to a student who regretted their education abroad experience. Have any questions or suggestions of your own about education abroad? Let us know in the comments section below.

5 Professions That Require a Master’s Degree

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While the economic forecast may make you gloomy, it will give you peace of mind to know that many industry sectors today are thriving. What does that mean for you? You guessed it: jobs do exist!

grad school professionsBut professional success won’t necessarily come fast and easy. Some of the best and most lucrative career paths require significant applied intelligence, creativity, and hard work. They also may require years of formal training involving some higher education, such as a master’s degree. Below are career paths that require a master’s degree for you to evaluate and see if one is right for you:

1) School Administrator – Master’s or doctoral educational administration degrees are available for students seeking a career in education. Such degrees will qualify students to work as school principals, assistant principals, educational board members, or faculty advisors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment rates for post-secondary school administrators will grow by 19 percent between 2010 and 2020, and the median annual salary in 2010 was $83,710 for post-secondary school administrators.

2) Marriage and Family Therapist – A Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy will provide students with the experience necessary to practice in this field. According to the BLS, most marriage and family therapists in the U.S. work for service or government-run agencies, outpatient care centers, or at physicians’ offices. Employment is predicted to grow by 37 percent through 2020, and the median annual salary in 2010 was $39,710.

3) Social Worker – To enter the workforce as a social worker, you will need to earn a master’s degree in clinical social work. According to the BLS, this field is expected to grow by 25 percent through 2020, and, in 2010, social workers earned a median annual salary of $42,480.

4) Physician Assistant – Accredited master’s degrees will qualify physician assistants to perform medical diagnostics and procedures under the supervision of physicians, as well as provide a license for them to practice. According to the BLS, employment in this field will increase by 30 percent from 2010 and 2020, largely due to healthcare industry expansion, and the median annual salary for the position in 2010 was $86,410.

5) Computer and Information Research Scientist – Breaking into this field requires a Master’s or Ph.D. in Computer Science to better prepare workers for all aspects of computer and information science. According to the BLS, this occupation will increase by 19 percent from 2010 to 2020, and, in 2010, the average annual salary wage was $100,600.

The above positions will provide a rewarding career path for you, as well as substantial financial benefits. However, in order to gain employment in these fields, you must earn a master’s degree, which will provide you with a competitive edge in today’s tough job market.

Mandy Fricke is the community manager for Elearners.com where she helps manage their online community for their master’s programs. In her free time she enjoys biking, traveling, and reading in coffee shops.

(Sources available upon request)