Congratulations on you acceptance! I as an international graduate student in the West Coast. Although I came at an older age and having worked, I had no idea what to expect or what the culture would be like. Now I am a professor, so my advice is based both of my graduate experience and my (still very recent) conversations with students in my department.
Treat graduate school like a job as much as possible. This means several things. On the one hand, you are now an adult responsible for your time and your own progress. As any adult, you are of course entitled to your own life. My advise: keep the dog! (I wish I had one!). Try to keep a routine the best you can and set an amount of work hours. I am assuming you have no kids and/or no partner, based on you OP? If that's the case, it is very easy to work very long hours. Treat yourself to your favorite hobbies: running clubs, church meetings, frisbee, what ever. I was very good at this in my third year. Grad school is also a job in the sense that you are being trained to be a colleague. I don't think no one will tell you this in your department, but try to dress professionally in tone with the department's culture. You'll always be a little less formal than faculty, of course (especially when you are only writing). Similarly, pick up the way people treat each other. I'm not talking about how to address professors (I'd err on the edge of formality, if you don't know your department's culture yet) but especially the collegiality among peers (or lack of). Stay with the good ones. [Eg: I had my first meeting with a graduate student earlier this month and I've noticed that I planned it more or less how a female advisor had always structured hers: first asking about how you are doing and then going into business]. Age-wise, you are not an UG anymore. Don't behave like one.
But graduate school is not a simple job. Be resilient. Your priorities and working style will change in the next five to seven years. I was very active until year 4, once I started writing the dissertation and going into the job market, I was siting down all day, writing. In addition, graduate school is more than a job because we give a lot to be here. I gave up my country to be here. Others move their families. Others left jobs. So it is very personal in a way that it is not faculty (trust me, I am one of those now). So, take care of yourself. Do not postpone your own health and wellness for a paper, it is never worth it. Believe it or not, life happens when you are in a PhD, so allow yourself to deal with what life throws at you. In addition, look for allies in the program, especially other graduate students. I say allies and not friends because I have the theory that we don't have to be friends with the people we work with. I'm not sure it's true, but for me this idea helped me relax and not feel the pressure of "you have to make friends". I did make great friends and with others I have great professional relationships. You want that.
Take the time to learn. I think it's impressive that you are starting a PhD program so young. Unfortunately, that means that you might be still learning about yourself, especially about how you learn. Now, everybody is there to learn. Remember the friends and colleagues part I mentioned earlier? Well, there is a third group of fellow students (the smallest, for sure) with whom I never wanted anything to do with: those who are speaking and saying nothing, and do not accept feedback.We are all students, we are all learning no matter what stage in life you are. Do not allow anyone believe that you have "more" to learn than others. I came at age 31 and still needed to learn how to read and write, because my foreignness made me a complete outside to American academic writing. You might encounter something like this, so give yourself the space to learn what you need to learn in order to succeed.
You have more power than you think. Although a PhD program is structured (coursework-exams-research-dissertation), you have a lot of agency in how to do each (or some) of the stages. Take a look at graduate certificates, workshops, and the like. I have friends all over the place that started off as part-time (5hs/week) editors of an in-house journal and now they are directors of Digital Scholarship in two institutions. I have friends that began working for the university's center for teaching and today, as they finish their PhD, are leading workshops on teaching, technology, and pedagogy to university professors. Depending on what your interests are, do expand them beyond the halls of your Department. This is also from the job market point of view. Search committees are looking more and more for people who can partner with other areas in the university, who can bring in novel teaching strategies, who can collaborate with others, and who engage the public. There are many, many programs on campuses trying to articulate these needs. Check them out, if it's something that interests you, because you might find yourself collaborating with someone after attending their talk!
Coursework is not just coursework. Work with your advisor to design a curriculum that works for you. Remember that the goal is to be a scholar, not pass courses. Courses should build into your interests and help you develop a sense of the literature and the debates in your field. Sometimes you'll take courses outside your field, but be conscious about why. Times is precious.
Research well how your exams and prospectus are done. Every institution is different. In many cases, expectations are unwritten so have as many conversations as you can with your advisor regarding the purpose of exams and/or prospectus.
Choose a bibliographic manager TODAY. Like, right now.
I would strongly advise you to take notes in your laptop, since that's easier to search when you are writing papers, prospectus, dissertation, etc.
I would advise you not to get a printer. I got one and then got a job on campus where I could print for free. Maybe you department supports some printing? Check that out before spending money.
Take control of your online presence. People will Google you.
Do not shy away from grant programs, even if you are not applying for anything yet. Grant writing programs are great to a) have grant applications drafts ready and b) basically boil down your project! (and it's never to early to think about your project).
There are many events on campus that are free and/or include free food. Keep them in your orbit. A weekly international lunch fed me during my first three years.
Begin all e-mails to professors with "Dear Dr. Smith" unless they tell you not to (I asked once, and they said that although we can treat each other by first names, they prefer formality over emails because you never know how emails get circulated).
Get your eyes checked (we spend a lot of time in front of screens)
Experiment with ILL in the first week or two so you get a sense of how it works. They will be your best friends!
Do not get rid of the dog (I know, I've said that, but I insist)
Shoot me up if you have further questions.
I wrote my methods section first, because it was the easiest to write and by the time I was writing, I had already finished my data collection. I was doing data analysis simultaneously, so that part happened more iteratively - as I conducted my analyses I went back and edited sections to make them accurate to what I did.
I wrote the results next, as that was second-easiest. Methods, data analysis, and results altogether took me from early September through mid-December to complete (including reviews of drafts and consultation with my advisers), so around 2.5 months.
I wrote the intro/literature review next. (In mine, the intro and the literature review are two separate sections, but the intro is very short - like 6 pages). It took me about 2-3 months to do this, so I worked on it from January to March-ish. It was easier to do this because now I knew what I was introducing, so I tailored my lit review to refer very specifically to previous research/theoretical work that pointed to the precise kind of research and analyses I ended up doing. If you write your lit review before doing your methods and results, you may have to go back and edit a lot to tailor your lit review to your work.
I didn't do an iterative review process with this - I drafted the entire thing and sent it as a huge complete chunk to my adviser. Perhaps risky, but I knew from previous experience that I wouldn't have months and months of comments back, so that's what I did.
Then I wrote the discussion. This was the hardest part to write for me and I hated it, but I think it took me about a month - so I was done in April-ish.
That was just enough time for me to get the comments from my lit review back, which I addressed in like 2-3 weeks, and then comments for my discussion, which I also addressed in maybe 1-2 weeks. I did not update my lit review unless I was aware that a new work had been published - so I didn't go looking for works that had been published in the last 2 months since I had submitted my draft. But I was receiving article alerts from journals and people also sometimes sent me articles, so if I received something and I knew where it would fit well, I wove it in.
Hi folks! My name is Brendon and I used this site a lot back in 2016 when I was applying to MSW programs. Since the site was so helpful then, I wanted to create a thread for those looking into PhD programs in Social Work to be admitted in 2020.
I started looking into programs in late 2018 and began making faculty connections then. Over the past month or so, I've officially decided to apply. I haven't 100% decided on where I'm applying but I have a few programs in mind. Those include: (1) University of Michigan, (2) Wash. University in St. Louis, (3) Michigan State University, (4) University of Denver, (5) Hunter College, and lastly, (6) University of Washington. I'd like to only apply to 3-4 schools, so I'm currently trying to eliminate 2-3 from my list. My main priority is having a program that feels supportive of me, my interests, and my professional goals. I specifically want to work with LGBTQ+ people (even more specifically, trans and nonbinary folks), so finding an affirming school is also a priority.
How are other folks feeling? Do you have a few schools in mind? What are your main areas of interest? I really wanted to create this thread as a way for us to support one another and possibly get answers! It's nice to know you aren't alone when going through this process and that there's an entire community of people going through something similar.
I would do casual, but like....nice casual. Like maybe a nice sundress or nice pants without holes in them. When I went for my orientation, I also brought a small notepad and pen. I don't believe I took any notes though.
If its run by a management agency, you should be able to search online for reviews from prior tenants. I would be more wary submitting a deposit if its just some random person renting out an apartment in a home they own.
Are you looking for your own place or a room with roommates? That will make a difference in what you might be able to do to reduce risk. Does the school offer housing to grad students? Many students out of the area may start off there and then move out after the first year (if this is a PhD program. It's not really worth the hassle of moving if it's a shorter program).
Being that it's summer, it could be that a lot of students took vacation or are less productive and not keeping up with their email. Depending how long it's been since you reached out to your peers, I wouldn't write it off as empty promises just yet.
Those of you that have already gone through them, what is the general etiquette? My last orientation I did was for my undergrad, which was obviously full of teenagers in ripped jeans and the occasional sweats. My MA was online.
I have my main Graduate Studies orientation tomorrow, and I'm not sure if I should go business casual? Professional? Normal street clothes? (I'll be doing an hour long campus tour in Florida heat...)
Also, what did you all bring? Note pads? Laptops? Just yourself?