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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! 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!

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

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