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September 5, 2005


Welcome back everyone! I'm starting us out with a request (no, not really ... more like a pleading) for help. If you are my friend or even sort of casually like me, read on . . .

I opened my big mouth last year and offered to do a FSoS 8200 seminar. It's set for 9/21 from 10:40 - 11:30 (before the obligatory colloquium.

The topic is Integrating Family and Personal Life with Graduate School. I've heard from my secret grapevine that this is a particularly anxious and pressured cohort, where many of them are returning students with current jobs they will be working while pursuing their degrees.

I'm planning a panel discussion with a question time. I've begun to approach certain people who have characteristics that I think would be good for the panel (i.e., single parent, employed during program, spouse, etc.). But what I need from ALL OF YOU is your learned wisdom about surviving the first year.

Respond back with 1-3 hints on survival, balancing your life, or even flourishing in the FSoS graduate environment. Keep them short and sweet. I will compile them for a handout for the 2005-06 cohort. And if I get REALLY creative, I might do it on slick paper with your photo, so it is more personal (Please let me know when you write if you want to be anonymous -- I'll assume that if you don't say anything, it's okay to identify you).

Thanks so much, and let's get a party going soon.

Posted by mkellehe at September 5, 2005 5:50 PM | Projects, Research and Assistantships


1. Buy an iPod...you'll need some background static to drown out all the noise you encounter your first year. Also, it doubles as an aid to homework.
2. Shed the dogmatic view of your favorite theories or research methods. You're getting a full mouthfull of perspectives and this is a great time to give each view a fair hearing. Who knows, you might end up in a different place!
3. Network with each other or others in the program who reciprocate. You'll need someone to gripe to or ask questions of from time to time. Don't be too proud to play the "new" student on the block role. This may be an experience this sets the kind of academic humility and honesty for the rest of your duration here.
4. Check out Yvette's blog...she's got some interesting perspectives on family science research and higher education in general.
Link: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/perry032/impossible/
5. Get over the "awe" factor with the faculty in a gradual and respectful way. Besides being big "names" they're also just human. Nonetheles, it will enhance your experience if you get to the place where you feel comfortable with them on a level that opens up dialogue.
6. Interested in the mentor program? See me!!
7. You can't do everything. Be intentional about cutting back on your commitments. It's a tricky line to walk between classes / the compulsion to present a poster or get published or volunteer everywhere / and your personal life. Many people have experienced enormous strains in their personal lives due to the academic rigor required here. You need to be intentional about what you will or will not commit to, and then be up front about that with faculty/students.

Peace out.gregg

Posted by: Gregg at September 14, 2005 8:38 PM

Great advice everyone! Here's my 2 cents....

1) Don't assume that other students in your cohort or the older year graduate students know more than you. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Also each person has something unique to offer, that's what makes the FSoS graduate program so dynamic! With our individual strengths we can help each other improve on the weaknesses.

2) Create a strong bond with your cohort or make a friend. Having that connection can make the first year go by fast because you understand what each other is going through. You can be surrounded by tons of people daily, but without that connection, it can feel so lonely.

Posted by: Pa Nhia at September 8, 2005 6:14 PM

I think the suggestions Jaerim and Holli made were great ones. The only things that I would add would be:

1) Remember that the people who care about you are going through this with you. Talk to them and keep in mind that how you allocate your time is something that may need to be negotiated more than once

2) Find a place (preferably on campus, because you don’t always have time to go home) to go to breathe. Even if it's your office and you only have a minute, it's important that you have a haven.

3) Try to keep things in perspective. If you are having a tough time in school, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, be it the end of the semester, the year, or the program.

4) Talk to people, including professors and other students, you’d be surprised how well they listen and perhaps even understand.

Posted by: Kristin at September 7, 2005 2:33 PM

Hi Mary,

Here are some of my thoughts. Would you correct my English before you print out the hand-out? Thanks!

1) Do not take two (or more) methodology courses in a semester unless you are very passionate on the subjects. You might feel thirsty for the content of family social science.

2) Start to think about big papers earlier. The more you have thoughts and resources for papers, the easier you write good ones.

3) Watch your diet and keep exercise. Some graduate students struggle with health issues such as depression in winter and a considerable gain in weight.

Posted by: Jaerim at September 6, 2005 7:45 PM

Does drinking a lot count???? hee hee

1) do not procrastinate!!! Make small, doable lists of things to do each day so things don't pile up. it is easy to get overwhlemed so staying on top of your readings, papers, ect. is highly encouraged

2) stay connected with your graduate mentor! They are a valuable resource and will be a good shoulder to cry on if needed :) Going out for coffee monthly if not weekly is highly encouraged

3) make sure to 'schedule' self-care time into your busy scheudle...you will lose your mind without it...guaranteed!

4) Ask lots and lots of questions to anyone and everyone willing to listen...no question is a bad question, believe me, I have asked them ALL!

Hope that helps Mary :) let me know if you need anything else...

Posted by: Holli Trombley at September 6, 2005 11:11 AM