NAGAP 2015

NAGAP AM 15_290x100I had the pleasure of attending the 28th Annual NAGAP Conference in New Orleans last week, which was my first time at a professional conference.  NAGAP, which stands for the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals, includes staff members and some faculty from colleges all over the US who work in fields directly or closely related to graduate admissions.

The conference provided a great opportunity to network with professional colleague’s at all different sizes and types of institutions.  There was information presented that was new and exciting to me, as well as information I already knew or had experienced through my time working in the Graduate Admissions Office here at SUNY Plattsburgh. It was nice to have the flexibility to choose the educational sessions that sounded most pleasing to me for where I am in my professional development. There was a wide range of different sessions occurring at one time so you could move around to one session or another easily.

A few of the sessions I attended were:

  • Getting Off on the Right Foot: Expanding Orientation to Enhance Student Learning
  • PlattForm Provides Solutions to Enrollment
  • Retention & Career Preparation Challenges
  • Cultural Sensitivity in Graduate Programs: A New Approach to Student Support – Adapting to a Global Culture
  • “Seven Golden Rules” for Being the Most Productive Person on Your Campus

The dynamic speakers gave a well-rounded experience for all who attended the conference. The needs of the attendees were met – whether you were just starting out (like myself) or a veteran to the Graduate Admissions world. These sessions provided me with new and creative approaches across a variety of topics related to Student Affairs and working with students in higher education.

Not only was the conference focused on attending educational sessions but there were also opportunities to mingle and meet new people. There were breaks between sessions that allowed social interaction and a night on the town at Mardi Gras World, where music and other activities took place. We were able to explore, touch and take pictures of the giant floats used in the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades.

10610642_10103078891264147_5869371914764028413_nMy boss, working on her professional development :)

I would encourage any graduate students to attend a professional conference if possible. It doesn’t have to be paid for out of your pocket either – professional development money exists on our campus for our graduate students to pursue these activities, which allowed me this opportunity.  Because of this experience, I will be more comfortable when I attend these conferences as a working professional in the future!

Power Push

February and March are cold, dreary months.  The fate of winter is determined by a groundhog that never holds up his end of the bargain. In short, these months are boring and the only thing we look forward to is Spring Break, which has come and gone. However, March is over in 7 days and there are only 8 more weeks left of the semester. You are almost there!

Now that you have realized how close the end of the semester truly is, there is no room for slacking. Professors prime us for the first half of the semester to really get us ready for maximum growth for the second half.

Due to the first half of the semester being focused on obtaining foundational information, it helps outline optimal space for creativity during the second half. You have learned everything there is about play dough, now this is the time to really play with it.629px-Animate-Clay-Step-9-Version-2Let me give you another example: the first half of the semester you solidified your daily routine and figured out how you were going to make sure you got your 8am coffee from Tim Horton’s (they even know your name), maybe even mastered bathroom, food, and social breaks. Whatever it may be, the second half of the semester is there to really push your limits. Maybe you make it to Tim Horton’s an hour early, maybe you skip the social scene and do some pleasure reading, or maybe you decided to take up a kick boxing class Monday night at 10pm!

In the classroom, you can challenge yourself the second half of the semester by talking more or even striving for a better essay grade. Talking to your professor is a great resource when it comes to finding out reasons why you did poorly. Many professors grade based on effort – if they see you putting in the effort they can see you are trying.

This next tip is hard to swallow, like fish oil. Fish oil is good for you, so is this. Limit your social media. Don’t completely cut it out, but limit it to where it’s not interrupting your progress on getting your work done, or even ahead. It’s hard to get things done or study when you are constantly checking Becky’s every minute status update or reading “You’ve Got This: 12 Signs You’re Actually Killing It In Your 20’s.”

Plan, plan, plan! Almost every post I mention something about planning. IT’S SO IMPORTANT! Plan for in an hour, plan for tomorrow, plan for next week, or be like me and plan for the last day of the semester! I have started to formulate the High Peaks I want to hike this summer, a to-do bucket list of crafts for around the house, and landmarks I want to explore. These list are great motivation to complete the semester strong.

Spring BREAK!

What does spring break mean to graduate students?

This?index

Not quite. Spring break is a little bit more like this…

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The idea that spring break is only for undergraduates is false. Graduate Students most certainly can take a little time to relax and catch up on “life.” That is my plan anyway.

But let’s not sugarcoat anything, as a graduate student you do need to plan ahead, so academics are always somewhat on your mind.  I of course have a HUGE research project to work on, but thankfully the deadline isn’t until a week after spring break.

Besides projects and catch-up work, I plan on relaxing, avoiding all things intellectual, and enjoying some long walks with my dogs, recreational reading, and family visits.

Grad students tend to be poor, so going on some luxurious vacation in the tropics is not exactly in store.  If you plan on sticking around the ‘Burgh and enjoying the Adirondack region, check out the Upcoming Adirondack Events page!

The beauty of Plattsburgh is that it has a great downtown area. There are a variety of restaurants to explore and small boutiques to browse.downtown_plattsburgh_by_pikvik-d4ihf2h

I know a break from everything sounds great, but don’t let it stop you from getting ahead.  If you want to take a vacation away from the feeling that there are constant expectations on your shoulders, your week off is a great time to do some extra work and get re-focused and re-organized.

Spring Break as a grad student may not be as stress-free as it was when you were an undergraduate, but hey, a week off is a week off!

Surviving the COLD

223435_10152528001405562_1515845326_n-300x200Winter is still here, and it’s colder than ever. Negative temperatures, nasty colds, thick unbearable snow and everything else that makes us scream for summer. To help you get through these next few weeks here on and around campus, I have created a “How to beat the cold,” list!

Number 1: Make sure you are staying warm. Dress appropriately, which means – COVER UP! I know wearing that big fluffy coat can get annoying and all those winter accessories, but this is how you prevent yourself from getting sick or even frost bite. Walking from Sibley Hall to Hawkins Hall in the cold is not exactly pleasing to our bodies.

randySUNY Plattsburgh does a great job at keeping staff and students informed about weather conditions and if there’s contagious illnesses going around. Here, you can find information regarding weather emergencies and how you can be notified.

This leads me to Number 2: Avoid the nasty cold. Take care of yourself. As we know, there are very few days you are allowed to miss when it comes to your coursework. Take the time for self-care. Get adequate sleep, eat lots of fruits and veggies, and most importantly be sure to wash your hands several times a day!indexNumber 3: Stay active.This is a great way to prevent winter sickness and avoiding couch potato syndrome. When thinking of ideas on how to stay active, outside of the gym, the first thing that came to mind was stairs. This could be because my assistantship is in Kehoe and Kehoe has ten flights of stairs. Have I made it to the top? Ha, no! (not yet!) Stairs are a great way to get a little boost of energy throughout the day.c56198f1907de02e58510daae7ea18dbNumber 4 – Make some plans to look forward to, whether it’s for Spring break in March, or for something great you will do this summer, focusing on fun plans for the future will help you get through these tough times.

Lastly, do your best to stay positive.  I promise that spring is actually coming, and coming soon (30 days! http://days.to/spring/2015)

Without a doubt, this is a tough time of year to be in the north country, but every day of winter makes summer seem so much sweeter.

2015

comic-1q0zhwrI am sure everyone has said “New Year, New Me” in their head a few times these past few weeks. I recently have said the typical “I’ll start tomorrow!” a few times. Last Monday, was my actual START date for me to really buckle down and get started on making this year the best year yet for focusing on my health and practicing healthy living.  And then I got sidelined with a horrible toothache.  This week I am healing and rebooting for take 2.

Of course the phrase ‘healthy living’ can be interpreted in many different forms. For me, I intend to explore new realms of my food palate, find ways to get a better night of rest, and go outside more.  Maybe I’ll buy a used bike or learn to ride a dirt bike. Whatever it may be, fresh air is always good for the body, mind and soul. I plan to write more handwritten letters. There is something special about writing and receiving a handwritten letter.

2015 not only means New Year resolutions for the personal self but for the academic side of my life.  If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know that organization is kind of a big deal to me, but this coming semester I want to be EVEN BETTER organized by using a different style planner. My new planner allows me to schedule tasks under more specific times so I know exactly where I need to be and when! I know that when I am organized I am able to accomplish a lot more with a more focused mind.

Another small resolution is to be ready for the next day before I go to bed. Prepare all the next day’s meals, get my bags organized and packed, even having an outfit ready to go can make a huge difference in the morning. If I have to scramble in the morning trying to remember everything I need for that day I will always forget something.

I’m hoping these little improvements can make a big impact on not only my life but those who I interact with on a daily or one-time basis.

So, 2015 I am ready for you.  Let’s do this!  Right after my root canal ;)

Reflection

 

A-Christmas-Story-a-christmas-story-5082964-640-480Fall 2014 semester.  Check!

Removal of the coffee IV.  Check!

Sleep.  In process.

Finally, the moment we all have been waiting for, winter break!  It’s officially one week into our break.  After surviving/conquering another semester of school I think it’s safe to say we all deserve a nice relaxing break.  Looking back at the semester, I am left sitting here wondering where the time went!  It feels like yesterday I was sitting in a classroom introducing myself by name, program track and one interesting fact about myself.

The end of the semester always seems to have mounds of papers, presentations, and finals that engulf me in a swarm of stress.  I am always well aware of this but it’s unavoidable.  I can prepare all semester but that last week is just inevitably full of stress.  While the stress can be a little overwhelming at times, the last few weeks have actually been the most rewarding.  I have been able to reflect on the past 15 week’s work of work and see my self-growth.

Winter break to some graduate students is the time to get stuff done, and for some, to catch up on those extracurricular activities you may have had to hold off on towards the end of the semester.  Remember that this is a time for break.  Allow yourself to enjoy life and eliminate the stress so it doesn’t become your state of “normal.”

Before you know it Spring 2015 will be here.  This next semester, I personally have some big planning to do because my program is changing and I will be graduating earlier than I originally anticipated!  I have started to look for jobs, work on my resume, explore the option of moving and I have to prepare my current work in the Graduate Admissions Office to be handed over to a new employee.  (Sidenote: If you’re looking for a graduate assistantship for next year, you can now view a list of the openings for next year on our website.)

Well enough about planning and lets have some fun!  The PHS field house ice rink is hosting open skate on the following dates: Jan. 12, 19 and 26 from 1:30 to 2:45.

Sledding, who doesn’t like sledding?  Find the nearest hill and experience being 5 years old again.  Now I know you’re tempted – you’re welcome. Otis LOVES the snow.  We take him winter hiking and walk him to a nearby field where he can run.

unnamedHowever you choose to spend your winter break, I hope it’s a wonderful and relaxing time for you.

 

Mad Dash to the Finish

It’s that time of the year when the holidays are right around the corner and it’s getting colder and darker outside (making it almost impossible to get out of bed and attend morning classes!).

With the end of the semester in sight you are probably starting to feel a little sluggish.  Maybe you’ve gotten sick or you’re downright exhausted. But, this is not the time to slow down.  Starting off the semester strong is easy. Maintaining that concentration through the last quarter of the semester is where most of us can agree, we struggle. This is the time I try to stay away from the dreaded all-nighters and eating a pack of Oreo’s for dinner.tumblr_mejpkege5k1rvvs8to1_500

This mad dash to winter break is so close you can almost touch it.  One half of you is in celebration mode and the other half in full-on panic. Here are some quick tips to keeping a nice, healthy, balance between the middle:

Breathe! Sometimes I feel like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done but, take a moment to sit and relax for a few minutes. Doing simple breathing exercises can help elevate stress.

Organize. I can’t say this enough! Utilize that planner of yours. Jot down assignments, due dates, test, etc. This is an ultimate life saver.

Reward yourself. What a great motivator than giving yourself something to look forward to, whether it is an hour of free time, or a spoon full of cookie butter (ok, that one is a personal favorite). You have worked hard, you deserve it!

Make time for friends. It can be easy to shut the door on your social life. However, this will make you even more stir crazy than focused. DO NOT become a hermit.

Utilize your resources. On campus there are a ton of resources at your fingertips. Sometimes we are unaware of all the resources that are available to us. The fitness center offers lots of fun classes and workout equipment, the Counseling Center has a lot of information on test anxiety and stress management, and always hosts events to help motivate and eliminate stress during finals week. Also, the Graduate Admissions Office is giving away coffee during the ENTIRE WEEK of finals week, for FREE!!imagesSometimes I find that I need a little change to help re-motivate myself to jump back into a project, paper, or studying. Some quick and easy things I will do are, go for a walk; even if it is around through the hallways. Play some music; sometimes I will put Pandora on while I get myself organized and ready to begin again. Change your environment; no one likes spending 8+ hours straight in one seat. I’ll move from the computer lab to the library, to the ACC and even go home. Set a time; sometimes I will give myself one hour increments to work. I will stay focused for the hour, and give myself as little break afterwards. This helps put the accountability on the time you set rather than yourself. Pick one; this is a bad habit of mine. It is so easy to start something and jump into something completely different. DON’T DO IT! Stay on one thing and finish it through.

Most importantly, go through the rest of Fall 2014 semester saying “I CAN DO THIS!” it may seem daunting now but when it is all done and over you will be amazed at how much you accomplished. tumblr_inline_mijzt96m9H1qz4rgp