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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

*re-post from a while back: I have received a number of emails from students regarding social media

All Students

Greetings everyone! I hope your New 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, things 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

Finals 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

All Students

Greetings Everyone! I hope your semester is going great. Today’s topic is one that a lot of students do not take advantage of. Prior to beginning my doctoral program; I had never presented at a major or local conference. Even though I had completed my Masters degree, I did not take advantage of opportunities that were available to me by presenting at national and local conferences. If you are in this similar boat, today’s topic may be of special interest to you.

While presenting at a national conference in graduate school, I had no idea that the presentation I was giving was in direct relation to the type of research interest that the department (the university I interviewed for a position) was looking to add. Long story short is you NEVER know who will be in the audience when you are presenting. Therefore, if you have the opportunity to present please take advantage of it. While talking to a few of my colleagues at the conference, they informed me of prospective doctoral students who were graduating within the next few months who were presenting and looking for academic positions. As a result, I went to a few of those sessions to see those doc students presentations.

Attending and presenting at those national conferences in your discipline can put you possibly in direct contact with leaders in your discipline. It is also important in relation to network possibilities as you will meet individuals from all parts of the United States and World. Therefore, if your major advisor or professor are encouraging you to present with them, take them up on their offer. In addition, if the department you are in has money for you to travel be sure to take advantage of those opportunities as well.

I believe that presenting at conferences are a bonus for any graduate student. The opportunities are endless as you may run across someone in the audience who is currently looking for potential applicants. Below are a list of things to consider if you are thinking about presenting:

  • If you are new to presenting, a poster presentation is where you may want to start
  • Gather professionals and being a moderator is a good way to present if you are nervous
  • Ask your mentor or advisor if they will present with you
  • Present on a topic that you are interested in
  • Use your Masters thesis as a topic if you have just finished gathering results
  • Make sure you have the right equipment with you (i.e. projector and jump drive)

I hope the above points will help you if you are deciding to present at a national or local conference. In the event that you have questions feel free to send me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com

Take Care,

Dr. Quintin Boston, LPC, CRC

All Students

I hope everyone is working through the fall semester or if you are on quarters, I hope you are working through your quarter at a good rate. Today’s topic is an interesting topic that centers around group work. Group work can be a sensitive topic because there is always that chance of having a group member(s) that is not going to pull their weight as it pertains to the assignment. I want to start out by saying if you are reading this post currently, and you are one of those people, please “get your act together,” and do your share. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I have been a victim of this type of behavioral both at the undergraduate and graduate level. Therefore, no one is immune to this type of behavior.

One of the things that you have to be careful of  is because more than likely these same individual(s) who are pulling the stunt of not working is more than likely someone who you will associate with on other occasions. Therefore, you have to be very careful with how you maneuver the situation.  The ability to separate the personal relationship that you may have with the lagging group member(s) may be difficult. However, I will provide some bullet points later in the post to try and combat ways to work through these situations. As a student, you have to remember that depending on the type of career that you choose, it may lend itself to a lot of group work once you finish school. Therefore, if you’re dealing with this type of situation currently, you can look at this experience as a building block for down the road. So, even if you find yourself doing most of the work, you can use the experience to help even understand the behavior of a future co-worker that has the same antics later.

Now comes to the hardest part for some individuals, when to involve the professor. A lot of students struggle with this because of not wanting to  be viewed in a negative way among their peers. However, if you are the victim of the lagging group member(s), you have to consider the long term effect. I always like to see students try and work it out among each other before going to the professor. This point is important because more than likely the professor will ask that question as the first step to solving the problem. If you have spoken with the group member(s) and there still is not a resolution to the problem, and your grades are severely suffering because of this, you have no choice but to go to the professor. Also, you have to consider what your long term goals are as well. No one enters college not to finish, so as a result, involving the professor is a way to ensure that when the grades roll down, you are getting fair treatment as it pertains to your grade.

Below are some strategies to deal with the unproductive group member(s)

  • Find out if they really and truly understand the assignment
  • Make sure there is nothing going on in their private life that is impeding their work
  • Remember that you are there to finish and graduate; hence getting the professor involved may be needed
  • If your concern for your personal relationship with the group member(s) is more pressing than the work that needs to be done; you may want to reevaluate what you deem as important in your academics
  • Switch up the task in the group if you think the lagging member(s) can handle something else
  • Talk to the group member about their effort, and you may have to remind them as well as to what their goals are
  • Do not let the situation with the lagging member(s) influence your relationship with the other members
  • Do not talk down to other members about the lagging member(s) as they will possibly get the drift that you are that type of person

I hope the above bullet points are good strategies that you can use if your currently in a situation where there is conflict within your group because of that lagging member(s). Feel free to email me at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com if you have anything specific that you want me to write about.

Take care,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D, LPC, CRC

All Students

Greetings students and welcome back, as you all begin a New Year and a new semester or quarter. I hope you took the time to relax over the break, and organize your schedule and plans for the new academic year. I spoke with a group of students earlier this week regarding the importance of planning and putting together a strong and realistic year of goals. I am stressing the wording realistic because it is important to be sure that the plans that you are putting into place are reachable and do able.

As I told the students earlier this week, depending on the rigor of your upcoming academic year, if you did really well, and you found that your studying and organizational plan worked for you last year, you may not have to modify anything. I think sometimes as students, some individuals feel because it is a new academic year that you must change your philosophy on how you organize and study. If you have a solid plan in place, and it is working for you, then I suggest that you follow those plans and modify if you need too. However, if you are someone whose plan did not work the best for you last academic semester, then I would suggest that you organize, speak with friends, or possibly your mentor to help you get off on the right foot this academic year.

When I was in school, I was one who had to sit down and plan out how I was going to go about strategically doing well for that upcoming year. I was not one of those students who could just sit down and roll through my courses, so I had to organize. Below are some of the ways I was able to get off on the right foot:

  • Take some time before you get started and organize your schedule
  • If you are a savvy technical person, do not be afraid to use your technology ability to help you organize
  • Talk to your friends who you feel are more organized than you
  • Be honest with your ability and if you need to reach out, reach out
  • Do not change anything if your plan is working
  • Take a look online and research ways in which you can become better organized

I hope the above bullet points can help you to become better organized and get off on the right foot for the upcoming academic year. In the event that you have any questions, send me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com. If you have a topic that you would like for me to write about next week regarding academics, send me an email to the above address.

Take Care,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

All Students

For some this week 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 2015. I hope that you remember the things that you have been taught over 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 (Fall 2014-Spring 2015). I will start back up in August of 2015 as a 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 2015 and good luck in your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

All Students

Greetings Everyone! I hope your semester is going great. Today’s topic is one that a lot of students do not take advantage of. Prior to beginning my doctoral program; I had never presented at a major or local conference. Even though I had completed my Masters degree, I did not take advantage of opportunities that were available to me by presenting at national and local conferences. If you are in this similar boat, today’s topic may be of special interest to you.

While presenting at a national conference in graduate school, I had no idea that the presentation I was giving was in direct relation to the type of research interest that the department (the university I interviewed for a positions) was looking to add. Long story short is you NEVER know who will be in the audience when you are presenting. Therefore, if you have the opportunity to present please take advantage of it. While talking to a few of my colleagues at the conference, they informed me of prospective doctoral students who were graduating within the next few months who were presenting and looking for academic positions. As a result, I went to a few of those sessions to see those doc students presentations.

Attending and presenting at those national conferences in your discipline can put you possibly in direct contact with leaders in your discipline. It is also important in relation to network possibilities as you will meet individuals from all parts of the United States and World. Therefore, if your major advisor or professor are encouraging you to present with them, take them up on their offer. In addition, if the department you are in has money for you to travel be sure to take advantage of those opportunities as well.

I believe that presenting at conferences are a bonus for any graduate student. The opportunities are endless as you may run across someone in the audience who is currently looking for potential applicants. Below are a list of things to consider if you are thinking about presenting:

  • If you are new to presenting, a poster presentation is where you may want to start
  • Gather professionals and being a moderator is a good way to present if you are nervous
  • Ask your mentor or advisor if they will present with you
  • Present on a topic that you are interested in
  • Use your Masters thesis as a topic if you have just finished gathering results
  • Make sure you have the right equipment with you (i.e. projector and jump drive)

I hope the above points will help you if you are deciding to present at a national or local conference. In the event that you have questions feel free to send me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com

Take Care,

Dr. Quintin Boston, LPC, CRC

All Students

Greetings everyone! This week’s post will focus on those hidden requirements while in graduate school. I have received a number of emails regarding this topic over the past few weeks.

First off I would like for you all to think about the job that you currently hold or a job in the past that you have worked. Were there hidden requirements on that job? Were you responsible for things that were not on your to-do list? If you look at the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and look up that job description, were you doing things that are not listed in the DOT? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then why would these same duties not exist in graduate school?

I personally think a lot of time we forget that being in graduate school is just like being employed, especially if you are on an assistantship. There are a number of hidden job requirements that may not show up in your contract. Just like you performed those duties on a regular basis on those jobs, the same can be expected in graduate school. For example, working on weekends may not have been in your contract, it may have read 20 hours a week. Let’s keep it real here; you will be working more than 20 hours a week in a department. In addition, people will be watching (e.g. superiors) when you are not SEEN around the department.

I can recall an incident when I was in my doctoral program and I went on campus to print some outlines out because my printer was broken. The director of the Rehabilitation Institute was in his office on a “weekend” and saw me printing out my outlines. He then made the comment “Boston I am glad to see you up here working even though it is a weekend!” I knew from that day on there were things expected of me that were not in my job description.

Another issue that I see with a lot of graduate students is not making themselves available to faculty members when they are scheduled to work. Looking busy and actually being busy are two different things. I have witness students who work for other faculty members shy away from helping other faculty members because they are not assigned to that particular faculty member. As a graduate student you have to keep in mind that faculty TALK and there is a good chance that the avoidance issue being portrayed will be mentioned. Therefore, you have to keep in mind that when you are told to do something, you have to be aware that other responsibilities may come with that suggestion.

I have heard graduate students use the words “I am not getting paid to do that!” Keep in mind that those same things you are not getting paid for can be included in that stellar recommendation that you are seeking at the end of your graduate journey. As a result, before you think about making that “I do not make enough to be doing extra,” statement, think about how that hidden job requirement can benefit you.

In sum, remember that everything required of you in graduate school is not listed on a web-site or in a contract. I am reminded of a good friend of mine who constantly reminds me that while other are sleep he is constantly working, and that 1-4am work is not what he signed up for but he is doing it anyway!

Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions or comments at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com

Take Care,

Dr. Q

Spring Break

All Students

Greetings everyone, I hope you are enjoying your spring break if you are on spring break. As with any break, I would encourage you to take sometime for yourself and to also relax and recover from the first half of your academic semester. Therefore, my post is short this week as I really want you to take the time and really organize your thoughts, and to also lay out a plan for success for the rest of the semester. If you are like me when I was in graduate school, then I do understand doing a little bit of work over spring break. However, use this break as it is intended.

Take care and relax,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

* it is that time again for interviews

All Students

Greetings everyone I hope your semester is moving along as smooth as possible. If you are on semesters then you have a full month of schooling left and I hope you push hard towards making that last month a good one. The topic today comes from numerous emails I have received from students regarding interview attire. One may think it does not matter what you are wearing for an interview as long as you “think you got it going on.” Well I am here to tell you that dressing the part is just as important as performing well in the one on one interviews.

I spoke with a few colleagues of mine across the country and a few who teach at international universities regarding this matter. The consensus among these faculty members was, be sure to understand that the clothing you wear to the initial interview does have an impact. For example, make sure that your cloths are fitting you properly. I know we are living in a time where fitness is taking off for the good as people are trying to sculpt their bodies. However, if you are not able to wear those business slacks that you had 5 years ago, then you are not able to wear them. I would prefer that you buy the size that you need rather than squeezing into those slacks that you truly can not wear. If you can afford to have your wardrobe tailored for the interview, then I suggest you seriously consider having it done. The tailoring will allow the cloths to fit proportionally to your body (both male and female). Keep in mind you are not going to a club. You are going to an interview; therefore, the skin-tight slacks or skirt is not going to cut it. If you have to continue to pull down your skirt, you may have made a bad selection in attire.

I would suggest as well to be very selective in the color scheme that you decide. Colleagues of mine have suggested when I am consulting with students regarding their interviews to try to steer close to the traditional, black, blue, grey, and brown coloring. Outlandish colors such has hot pink, tangerine orange, sky blue, and loud red may make the opposite impression that you are trying to portray. Remember you want the person that is interviewing you to recognize you for your knowledge, not for your color coordination. I am not suggesting that you do not place matching attire together, I am suggesting that you pay close attention to what you are color coordinating.

Another issue pointed out to me by one of my colleagues who is a female professor are the women who show up to interview “lighting” up the room with perfume. You will want to be careful not to smell as if you have taken a bath in the perfume that you are wearing. This can be a real issue especially if the person who is interviewing you is allergic to those very strong scents. Utilizing an etiquette book can be very helpful.

A lot of this information is fairly routine; however, you will be surprised by the number of students who interview for graduate school across this country who sink themselves before the interview process even begins because of their selection of clothing. Do not be one of those students, take time and effort and put together a professional wardrobe, one in which you know will help instill confidence and power in your appearance.

Below are some things to remember

  1. Wear clothing that fits you
  2. If you have to go up in size then make the best choice available to you
  3. Have your clothes tailored it you can afford it
  4. Stick to the traditional color schemes
  5. Watch the amount of cologne or perfume that you are wearing
  6. You are going to an interview not the club
  7. If you are constantly pulling down the skirt then wear something else
  8. Be careful of the rain coat batman looking suits
  9. Check your clothes for stains or makeup
  10. – don’t overdo it with makeup. You are interviewing for graduate school not clown college.
  11. ladies: although the 5-6 inch stilettos are in fashion, an interview is not the time or place to wear them.
  12. speaking of shoes, you all want to wear basic colors (ladies your shoes should match your suit or wear basic black. 2-3 inch heel maximum). Guys (shoes should be either black, dark brown or cordovan or should be the same color as your suit). Remember suits should be black, navy, gray or brown.
  13. also it may be best to go with either a white or navy dress shirt or blouse under your suit.
  14. and remember guys: a simple tie works best (save the “family guy” or beer mug tie for another occasion.
  15. jewelry: less is more. A wedding ring, if you are married or class ring, if you wear one (one ring per hand (unless engagement ring/wedding band) A watch (nothing to “blingy” you don’t want to distract the interviewer) and the same with earrings. “I pity the fool” who arrives to the interview looking like Mr. T!
  16. hair: should be neat and kept out of the face. If your hair is long and you find yourself having to constantly push it out of your face, then you may want to pull it back into a bun or a classic up-do. You may want to steer clear of a ponytail. Gentlemen: be sure to have a fresh haircut and shave or have your hair as neat as possible.
  17. your personality should shine through you, not your clothing, jewelry, hair, makeup or fragrance.

I hope the above bullet points were of help to you. Keep in mind if you have questions you would like for me to answer send then togetmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com

 

Thanks again for reading,

 

Dr. Quintin Boston, LPC, CRC

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