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*Since application deadlines are right around the corner I am re-posting this topic Good Luck with the Admissions Process

All Students

Over the past few weeks a number of students have written to me regarding letters of recommendation. Quietly, letters of recommendation are a key component of an application packet. Speaking with colleagues across the country, a number of students do not fully understand the type of letters of recommendation to submit. A common mistake colleagues of mine have alerted me of is having “relatives” write letters of reference. For instance, a grandmother writing a letter of reference from an academic standpoint is not a good idea. These type of errors can eliminate an applicant from contention.

Make sure as an applicant when you are identifying potential recommendation writers, that those individuals can write to what the requirements are for the school in which you are applying. As an illustration, a number of schools have fill in forms with ranking sheets. If you are on the border or edge, you may want to consider having your writer write a letter along with the filled in % ranking. Some academic admission committees prefer an applicant to have a letter along with the % sheet. Understand what the recommendation requirements are so you will be in compliance.

Another common mistake students make as well is asking for a letter from someone who really can not speak to their potential. DO NOT get caught up in the line “this person writes great letters of reference.” The reason you can not go off of word that this person writes great letters is because you may not understand the relationships that the “great writer” has with the applicant you are speaking with. Colleagues of mine have informed me of letters coming on behalf of applicants and in those letters words such as “tardiness, unprofessional, lack of tact, and not dependable” are littered throughout the letters. Due to the fact that a number of applicants never see the letter written on their behalf, ensures that you really need to know who are writing your letters?

Below are a few points that may help:

  • Identify a faculty member who can speak to your academic performance
  • Be on the look out for a professional colleague who can speak to your work performance
  • Do not take a person’s word of mouth regarding a “great letter writer”
  • Know what the academic department in which you are applying standards are
  • If you have a good relationship with your writer maybe they will let you see the letter prior to mailing
  • Do not ask a person to write a letter on your behalf the day before the application is due

I hope that this information has been helpful. Keep the questions coming to getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com. Be on the look out next week for more special commentary.

Take Care,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., CRC

All Students

Greetings everyone, I hope your semester or quarter is running as smooth as possible. I received an email regarding setbacks in school, and how to handle them. Well, this got me thinking about times when I had set backs in my academic journey. As you know, if you have been there with the academic setback, there is an urgency to try and work through the setback as quick as possible. However, sometimes that is not case, or it is virtually impossible. For instance, I can remember getting a very very very low C (it really was a D) on a multiple regression stats exam when I was in my Ph.D program. Up to that point in my studies I was “rolling,” nothing was holding me back. When I earned that “D,” it put a lot of things in perspective for me. While wanted to go ahead and up my grade immediately, I knew that was not possible, as the next exam was not coming for another 3 weeks. I say all of that to say, in that case there was no way my situation was turning around immediately.

When or if you are confronted with an academic set back, there are a few things that need to be recognized quickly. First off, you will need to really take a hard look at the totality of the set-back; for instance, is it something that is fixable, or something that you can work through quickly. If it is not something that you can work through quick, then the next order of business should be, how are you going to bounce back from the set back? I do understand that bouncing back is easier said than done. However, you must be real with yourself regarding what strategies you will put into place to overcome the setback. I will provide some strategies later in the posting.

In addition to a possible setback that you may have brought onto yourself, there are also situations in which you cannot control. For example, I knew of a student who wanted to defend their dissertation in a certain semester; however, the committee was not able to accommodate that student, therefore, the student had to wait until the summer. In a situation such as the one mentioned above, there was nothing the student could do. If you find yourself in a situation like the one just mentioned, then you have to find a way within yourself not to get down too hard on yourself. In some cases setback are inevitable because you may or may not have control over the environment.

Below are a few strategies to employ if you are in the midst of an academic setback:

  • Do not come down too hard on yourself
  • Determine if the setback is the result of someone else or you
  • Ask colleagues and friends how do they manage setbacks
  • Find that outlet that you have at your disposal
  • Understand that academic setbacks can happen, and do not live in a fantasy
  • Employ strategies to help you focus better if studying is an issue for you

I hope the above points were able to help you begin the journey of dealing with setbacks in an academic setting. In the event that you have questions or comments, feel free to send me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com

Take Care,

 

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

* this is a re-post from an earlier posting! I have received a number of emails from students regarding social media and the role it can play both positive and negative in academics.

All Students

Greetings everyone! I hope your new academic year is off to a good start, and up and running. Today’s topic is an interesting one, we have tackled clothing in an interview, networks, mentors, and planning to name a few. However, I had an interesting conversation with a student who emailed me regarding my thoughts on social media, and would it hinder their chances of getting into a TOP TIER grad school or professional school. Seeing that I went to a Top Tier program 3rd in the nation for Rehabilitation Counseling at the doctoral level at that time, I had to sit back and really think about this. Even though I consider myself as someone who graduated in the “new age” from college; there are still some things that I did not have to deal with. Social media was for sure there when I was in school, however, it had not taken over as to the point it has now. So, I pondered a few things before I responded to the email.

I liken social media to anything else; it is something that you really have to monitor. For instance, the one big thing that you really have to pay attention to is the context in which things are being viewed or witnessed. Like magic, thinks are not what they appear, the context, and the setting plays a major role in what someone is seeing on social media or viewing on a website. Therefore, when you are looking at getting into these top tier schools, you want to represent yourself in the best possible light. Look at it as if you trying to garner that job that you really want. Are you going to put forth a lazy effort, or are you going to monitor what you are saying and doing? I would think you are going to do the latter. Now for some of you all reading this, I know you are going to possibly say, “but Doc I am expressing myself!” My response is, “that is fine that you are expressing yourself; however, keep in mind that you are not on the selection committee, and they have the right to pick and choose who they want.” Remember a lot of these top tier programs are looking for ways to eliminate people from the ranks. It is the reality of the situation as they only have a certain number of seats for each program. So, you just want to make sure that you are not eliminating yourself with some of your actions on social networks.

Another thing to consider is to take a hard look at the institution that you are considering. If it is a top tier school, you know they are attracting top tier talent. Therefore, your packet will undergo extreme scrutiny. TRUST me they are looking for anything to move someone’s packet to the other pile. Since you have the ability with a number of these schools to reach out to current students who are in those programs, you may want to ask them how the department feels about social media. That question will probably not be on the F&Q page, but it is something that you can get by talking to a current student. Remember like anything else, I cannot stress enough the art of elimination.

So, you have to take the good with the bad when it comes to social media. Honestly, and this is just my opinion, but I think it can sink an applicant. Again, it will not be said to you personally, but again in my opinion I think it can hurt an applicant. We all have heard of jobs looking and peeking at folk’s social media pages; as a result, do you think a schools would be any different? Again, I would just caution any student who is looking at top tier’s to keep in mind the things that you are putting on your social media accounts. Again yes you do have the right to express yourself; however, keep in mind that everyone may not feel the same way about your “expression!”

I know today’s topic did not center on a specific academic issue; however, I thought the email was such an important email that I felt the need to put the word out for my readers. Again if you have questions or have something you would like for me to respond to or write about shoot me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com

 

Take Care,

 

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

Greetings!

Dissertation/Thesis Writers

The school year is right around the corner for some and has possibly started for others. Therefore, this week’s blog will touch on setting and keeping goals. As for the dissertation and thesis writers this can either be a blessing or a curse. In the event that you have secured some type of dissertation research or fellowship award; writing your dissertation should be your first priority. However, I realize some of you may possibly have to T.A. or actively participate in research for a faculty member on top of finding time to write your dissertation as well.

If you are one of the many dissertation writers who have other departmental responsibilities, this weeks blog should be of particular interest to you. The ability to set and organize your calendar is paramount, especially if this is your first fall semester as a pure dissertation writer. Unfortunately, I was one who had to do clinical supervision and also write one fall semester while in my doctoral program and it was EXTREMELY challenging. Hence why paying close attention to following bullet points may possibly provide some clarification for you.

  • Organize your writing around downtime in your hectic schedule
  • Possibly go the first week of the semester without any writing at all just article pulling
  • Talk with your mentor or mentors about how did they handle beginning a fall semester and writing
  • At the end of each week check your calendar and see if you were able to reach the goals you set for that week
  • Have realistic expectations as to what you are trying to accomplish not only with your writing but with other departmental responsibilities as well
  • Make sure you do not forget about your leisure activity that keeps your sanity and positive outlook for completion
  • Continue to do a self-reflection to ensure you are maximizing your time

I hope the above bullet points are a good start for you as you begin a different type of journey for the fall semester. The fall presents a different set of challenges because the traffic (meaning students) picks up around each department. Make sure you do not panic if it seems to be a lot going on in a short period of time in your department. Remember to think of the goals that you have written down as a road map for you this semester.

Prospective Graduate Student/Non-Thesis Writers

For you all the beginning of the fall also presents a unique set of challenges as well. This means either you are a year or two seasoned or you are a new flower ready to blossom. Either way, the goal remains the same, being able to get through another semester at the top of your game, and also keeping your plans that you have laid out for yourself. A lot of the information presented for the dissertation and thesis writers can also be applied to you all as well. If you are a prospective graduate student be sure to look out for next week’s article entitled making that hard choice (Which school is right me).

Keep in mind if you have any questions for me feel free to email me at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com

Yours Truly,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

Welcome Back

All Students

 

Welcome back and I hope everyone is excited to begin a new fall semester. As with postings in the past, it is very important to get off on the right foot. For you all just beginning college, this task can be somewhat overwhelming; however, for you all seasoned veterans, you know this time of year is a closer mark to the finish line.

I do understand that not every university starts the same week, but this is the time of year if you are on a semester system that things are about to get kicked off. I would like to wish everyone a successful beginning to their New Academic Year. As with my postings, I will continue to post weekly on topics affiliated with academics. Be on the lookout for next week’s post centered around starting off the Academic year with a BANG.

Good luck again if you are starting this week!!!

 

Sincerely,

 

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

All Students

For some this weeks marks the end of a long journey and I would like to send out a hearty congrats to all of the graduates of the class of Spring 2014. I hope that you remember the things that you have been taught of the last numbers of years and are able to apply those skills to your chosen profession.

Today marks the end of my weekly postings for the academic calendar (2013-2014). I will start back up in August of 2014 as new the academic year begins. In the event that you have something pressing that you would like for me to write about send me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com … Again congrats to the Spring class of 2014 and good luck in your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

Final Exam Week

Current Students

Greetings everyone I hope you all are revving up for finals week. I am not sure I know of any students who enjoy finals week; however, I do know of students who are confident going into finals week. If you have some reservation going into finals week this week’s post is for you.

While in school either graduate or undergrad finals week was not something that I looked forward to. A lot of times I found myself in a number of classes on that borderline (either A or B or B or C). Therefore, cramming and trying to relearn things I should have already learned throughout the semester was a routine challenge for me. In the event that you are in the same situation, there are a few things that you can try to help reduce some of that stress. First, it is extremely important to have an understanding of how YOU learn. A number of students are walking around college campuses without a clue of how they really process academic materials. Do not be one of those students, as having a firm grasp of you learning style can help you retain material.

I did not find out until I was in graduate school how I really retained information. For me, I had to create a lot of scenarios with my academic materials in order to really retain the information. Another option for you is to talk with colleagues of yours regarding how they go about prepping and preparing for examinations. If you so happen to run across the “I do not study person” you may want to look in another direction as you know that process is not working for you. In addition to asking questions, see if there are study groups on campus or in the department that you are affiliated with.

If you are on the border of passing a course, then you know the final exam can make or break your grade. Do not be oblivious to this, take action and get to prepping for the exam. Keep in mind that you want to get as much as you can out of all of your courses, especially courses in your major. Below are a list of things that may help you prepare:

  • Seek out study groups
  • Find a place where you can really focus while studying
  • Meet with your professor if you have last-minute questions
  • Do not be afraid to ask the professor if you can use your notes during the exam if you have not been told that you can not
  • If you can not study with the big crowds seek out a classmate
  • Make sure when you become bored with your studying to set away from your notes as you are probably not retaining anything when you are not focus
  • Ask students who have taken the course before you how the final exam was

I hope the above bullet points are helpful for you as you begin to gear up for your finals. If you have questions or comments send me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com

Take Care and Good Luck,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

Dissertation/Thesis Writers

A number of my subscribers have written to me inquiring about how to get the most out of their dissertation chair. Due to the heavy questioning, this weeks blog will focus on the Power Player in the dissertation process. Looking back on my experience in my doctoral program, I believe I was able to max out my chair by doing a few things. If you have a chair who is demanding and operates on a time schedule, you need to do the very best that you can to meet those deadlines. For instance, if they were to ask you to complete a task by 9pm and you have it done by 8:30pm, my recommendation would be to sent it to them a little and add a message to the email acknowledging that you have completed the task “a little early.”

Another trap that a number of candidates fall into is submitting sloppy or non edited work. This can frustrate even the most delicate chairs. A rush job or last-minute job can cause your work to end up on the bottom of a stack of papers, or buried in the email inbox. I spoke to a good friend of mine who has chaired past dissertations, and they informed me that most students do not max out their chairs ability to help them complete the process. As a doctoral candidate you have to keep in mind that completion either on time or late gives your dissertation chair more credibility and notches another completed student  to their vitae. Therefore, you have to understand that it is your dissertation that you are working on not theirs, and you should be motivated and ready to give maximum effort each and every time you write.

Involving your chair in key topics of discussion is another way to ensure you are forcing them to utilize their specialized skill set. A way to practice this method is by discussion outlines, or drafts with them and asking them the pertinent question, “What do you think about this?” If you decide to gamble and play the  I know more than you game keep in mind that you are running a serious risk of isolating yourself not only from your chair but possibly  from your committee too. Unfortunately, a number of doctoral candidates do not understand that CHAIRS TALK to other committee members. Remember there is good chance that your chair has a professional relationship with each person on your committee. That relationship was probably forged before you even showed up on campus, and in some instances possibly before you were even born. As a result of this, if you are doing a great job working with them, there is a good chance they are sharing the positive things you are doing with the other members.

I hope the above paragraphs will cause you to think about the relationship that you have with your dissertation chair(s) and cause you to ponder the question of are you maximizing your chair? Feel free to send me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com to further add to this discussion if you have burning questions.

 Prospective Grad Student/Non-Thesis Writer

The above information in some ways can apply to you all as well. Take for instance that you have an academic advisor or mentor that you are working with. Ideally, that person should be more proficient in some area that you are needing guidance. With that being that case, you can probe them for ideas and also listen to the advice  they are giving you in an effort to help you be the best student that you can. For you prospective graduate students you want to make sure that the person that you decide to work with shares a common research interest, and also has the personality traits that will work well with you.

 

Take Care,

 

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

All Students

Greetings! I hope everyone’s semester is moving along well. Today’s topic is an interesting one. I have received a number of requests from students to write on the topic regarding my opinion on transferring schools. This is an interesting yet touchy topic. Ideally one can say well, go and ahead and run to the better situation. This is not always the case that the transfer will be for the better. Unless it is a situation in which a student has graduated from a two year college, and is finishing their last two years at a four year institution; then the question to transfer maybe an easy one. Even in situations where a student has done one year at an institution and did well, and is looking to move on to a “better” school, there are still things that need to be taken into consideration. As you can see from my opening, I am one when it comes to academics that the person has done their homework regarding the other institution.

I have known personally a number of students to walk out of one institution, and never even make it to the “transfer” institution because academics where not really on their mind. I think it is critical for the person in this situation to ask themselves the hard questions as to why they are looking to transfer. I am not writing to say that transferring is a bad idea; I am writing to say that thorough research needs to be done before transferring to another institution, especially if you are succeeding at the current institution that you are currently enrolled. I think a myth that is floating around in today’s academic society is that a transfer equals a clean slate. In some cases, it does mean a person may experience new surroundings, and may establish a new social network. However, the transcript is not a clean slate, as that follows.

If you are in this situation and you are weighing your options, then there are number of things that can be considered. Below are a few bullet points that I think can go a long ways as to making that decision

  •          Is the transfer institution really a better institution then the one you are currently enrolled
  •          Are there resources in place to help transfer students make a transition to the new university
  •          If you are graduate student, is there funding available, or  are faculty in place that are going to help you advance in your career
  •          Are you transferring because someone has told you the other institution is “the way to go”
  •          Does the institution have money for transfer students
  •          What type of support networks or resources do you know at the new institution
  •          If you are a graduate student, how many credit hours is the new institution going to take
  •          Can you honestly afford to go to the other school
  •          Have you thoroughly research the new institution

Above are a few bullet points that I think can help a student who is in this situation of do I transfer or do I stay? At the end of the day it is a tough decision; however, if it is one that has been thoroughly discussed and thought out, there is a good chance that the right decision will be made. I hope the topic today has been able to answer the question that a number of you all are currently facing in your academic journey.

Again, if you have a topic that you would like for me to write about, feel free to send me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you. Be on the lookout for next week’s topic Am I being honest with myself academically.

 

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

*interviews are beginning for a number of you all GOOD LUCK

The Prospective Graduate Student!

This weeks post will focus on prospective graduate students! Continuing the positive energy from last weeks post I hope you all are still motivated to finish your studies! A number of my subscribers have written to me lately regarding navigating the initial graduate school interview! Therefore, if you are reading this post and currently preparing for a perspective interview you are in the right place!

Drawing from my own experiences having navigated through a number of prospective graduate school (Master’s and Ph.D) interviews those were some of the most tiring times in my life! First off, I was not getting a lot of sleep due to nervousness (lack of confidence) and not knowing what to expect! Thankfully it all worked out!

Prior to going to your interview with prospective programs make sure you have done a thorough  job identifying your strength’s and weaknesses! A way to gauge your strengths and weaknesses are to ask former professors or colleagues whom you have worked closely with; as they will be able to give you an accurate depiction of both! Next, it is not a bad idea to contact current students in the program that you are looking to interview with to gauge their thoughts of the program and to also find out information not POSTED on the departments website!

After working with your colleagues to discover information about yourself and contacting current students in the prospective programs; engage in a mock (ROLE PLAY) interview with possibly a former undergraduate advisor or professor; or someone who has graduated from the perspective program that you are seeking admittance! During this role play I would suggest you dress the part as if you are actually in the room with the interviewers as this can prepare you mentally and physically for the interview!

Keep in mind the prospective university does not OWE you ANYTHING as YOU are choosing to possibly go there! An interview does not equal GUARANTEED ADMISSION unless you have been told otherwise!!! Have a set of questions in which you would like for the interviewers to answer for you regarding their program! A good question that I was told was good is “What sets your program apart from other (INSERT YOUR DISCIPLINE HERE) programs?” Place them on the hot seat and see if they give you the generic “we are different.” Good questions can show potential programs of your creatively and motivation to enter their program!

Finally, keep in mind that you have a unique set of skills that have put you in the position to be a potential candidate! This again should show you that the university does not OWE you anything! Too many students think they are owed or should be shown mercy because they are being invited for an interview! DO NOT BE ONE OF THOSE STUDENTS! Remember you are motivated to finish the program or you would not be interviewing!!!

Dissertation/Master Thesis Writing

For you all continuing to plug away on your projects continue to stay motivated and encouraged! As mentioned in a past blog I hope you have found a leisure activity that is helping you stay focused on the task at hand! I challenge you all to think about the above information and use those examples as if you are prepping for your post-graduate work interview! Also, I would like to hear from you all regarding how you are progressing on your project! I can be contacted at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com ….

Yours truly,

Dr. Quintin Boston, LPC, CRC

Spring Break

All Students

Hope all is going well with everyone so far this academic term. Enjoy your spring break if you are break this week. Take some time to relax and recover from the first half of the semester. I think it is important for students to be able to find at-least one or two days over the break to really take some time to relax. If you are on the edge of burnout please take a day or two to refresh yourself.

In the event you have a topic academically  that you would like for me write about feel free to send me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com. I will be away for a conference next week; therefore, I will continue my postings the following week.

Enjoy,

Dr. Quintin Boston, LPC, CRC

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