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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 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

Greetings Students!

I hope everyone’s semester is off and running at a smooth pace. This week’s post deals with the intimidating syllabus. I spoke with a student a while back regarding this very issue. Well, I am here to tell you, you want the syllabus to appear that way. Just because the syllabus looks intimidating at first glimpse, does not mean you cannot do the work. For instance, you have to keep in mind, you have been off for a month, and if you have not done any type of academic work over the holidays, it is going to take some time to get back in the swing of things.

Remember if this is an upper level class, and it is in your academic major, then a lot of principles that you may face in the course, may possibly build off of your foundation of knowing prior information. However, if the class is not something that you are familiar with, then you will have to put in possibly a little more work in order to achieve the grade you are looking for. I think one of the things that hang a lot of students up, is the notion of, “well this looks like the work is impossible so I am just going to get by.” To me, that is an easy way out to look at the situation. If you truly want to be the best student that you can, you will continue to put the effort in with each class that you have.

I would also like to caution you as a student, to not panic at the site of a lot of reading or writing, or group projects. Remember, you choose the major that you are in, and you’re in school to either better yourself, or reach some goal that is set out for you. If you have been very successful in college, use the techniques that have gotten you to the place that you are currently at. A lot of times when people go outside of who they are when it comes to studying, the plan tends to backfire. So, if your study habits are good, and you have gotten to the place that you are, then you will want to keep that train moving with the upward momentum.

I would like to give some suggestions below to help you work through that initial shock of the syllabus:

  • Remember why you are in school
  • If you have strong study habits use them
  • Do not be afraid to ask for clarification on assignments you do not understand
  • Utilize other students who have taken the professor before
  • Remember that the semester or quarter will eventually come to end
  • Seek out a tutor if you need one

I hope the above bullet points can provide some guidance if you are in the situation with the intimidating syllabus. Please feel free to shoot me an email at getmotivatedtofinish@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

Congrats Fall 2014

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 Fall 2014. 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 (2014). I will start back up in January 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 Fall class of 2014 and good luck in your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

Quintin Boston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC

Happy Thanksgiving

All Students

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday! Be on the lookout for next weeks post: Ending Strong

Regards,

Quintin Boston, PhD., LPC, CRC

Happy Veterans Day

I would like express my thanks and gratitude for the current and former Veterans of the armed forces!

 

Thank you for your service!

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