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MATC Scholars Program: Dr. Deo Chimba


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MATC Scholars Program: Dr. Deo Chimba

  1. 1. Graduate School Student Experiences Dr. Deo Chimba, PE MATC Scholars Program October 3 – 6, 2012 University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  2. 2. OUTLINE• Introduction• Learning Objectives• Learning Outcomes• Session Presentation• Conclusion
  3. 3. LEARNING OBJECTIVES• Understand the mentality of graduate versus undergraduate studies• Working toward a Masters or PhD• Challenges to anticipate in graduate school• Networking with other students• Determination of faculty expectations
  4. 4. LEARNING OUTCOMES• Students will be prepared to differentiate mentality of graduate school compared to undergraduate, and fundamental elements to consider when preparing for graduate school• Students will know core steps, requirements, course work and other related elements for their Masters or PhD studies• Students will be prepared on how to choose a faculty advisor, how to meet advisor expectations and work ethics• Students will be prepared for networking with other students
  5. 5. MENTALITY OF GRADUATE VS. UNDERGRADUATEUndergraduate coursework is a basiceducational foundation within a given programof study following high school.•The course work includes a general cluster ofknowledge that promotes a well roundededucation.•The student is exposed to a variety ofareas, not just their chosen field of study.Graduate coursework in most cases is veryspecific and particular to one field of study.
  6. 6. MENTALITY OF GRADUATE VS. UNDERGRADUATE• Graduate school differs from undergraduate college in that much more of the force is on the student.• In undergraduate programs, there are a lot of courses that focuses only to students’ basic foundation ideas and information.• The purpose for undergraduate is to give students enough of a basic background that they can wisely shop for their discipline specialty they study.• Graduate school asks students to feed themselves though there is still coursework to help students pick up facts and ideas that undergraduate programs dont get in due to the four year time constraints
  7. 7. MENTALITY OF GRADUATE VS. UNDERGRADUATEUndergraduate coursework : Undergraduate allowsan individual to explore a variety of areas.Graduate coursework: Individuals who wish topursue higher education in graduate studies need tohave a clear idea of just what it is exactly that theywant to study. Graduate school delves into the detailsof a specific .•The work load in graduate studies entails that anindividual works closely with a major professor andalso additional faculty members to properly design thecourse studies.•An individual may also become part of a lab group orresearch team and must work closely with otherstudents on that team.
  8. 8. MENTALITY OF GRADUATE VS. UNDERGRADUATEUndergraduate School: Undergrad school is exam-based education.Graduate School: Graduate school is training inresearch.•It is for people who love research, scholarship andteaching.•The eventual goal of many doctoral students is to geta job as a college professor, or perhaps in industrial orgovernment research.•It requires more focused and sustained work, itinvolves more intensive relationships with faculty andother students, and it makes considerably greaterdemands on your personal identity.
  9. 9. MENTALITY OF GRADUATE VS. UNDERGRADUATEUndergraduate Coursework: You acquire a generalidentity such as Civil Engineer, MechanicalEngineer, etc. Specific specialization such a TrafficEngineer or Structural Engineer might come later aftergaining experience concentrating on specific work inthe area.Graduate School: You will acquire a particular sort ofprofessional identity immediately after graduating suchas Traffic Engineer, Structural Engineer, etc•You will become known as the person who wrote apaper, who did research, who refuted a theory, or whoinitiated a line of inquiry.•Graduate school is more like an apprenticeship whereeach student has his or her own project.
  10. 10. WORKING FOR MASTERS OR DOCTORATEMaster’s Degree—mainly is designed to give a solideducation in a specialized field. Most master’scandidates spend one to two years earning theirdegreePhD Degree—are designed to give extensiveexpertise in a specialized field. Usually (not always), itis targeted towards training to pursue in academia asa Professor or ResearcherBoth Masters and PhD can be attended by a studentas: (1) Full Time Graduate Program; (2) Part TimeGraduate Program; (3) Evening Graduate Program; or(4) Online Graduate Program.
  11. 11. WORKING FOR MASTERS OR DOCTORATEMaster’s Degree—Most master’s candidates spend one to twoyears earning their degree1.Master’s students take courses to fulfill degreerequirements, just like undergraduate2.However, the workload is heavier, the course topics are more3.Specific and much more is expected of you than undergraduate4.In many schools, at the beginning of the master’s program, youchoose or assigned a faculty member who will serve as youradvisor5.This advisor will help you develop an academic focus andpotential topics for your thesis or final project
  12. 12. WORKING FOR MASTERS OR DOCTORATE6.Then you decide on your research focus and—in onesemester or two—complete your masters thesis or finalproject7.If you show promise, you may be encouraged to continuetoward a PhD8.Earning a masters degree may be an explicit requirementfor continuing on to the PhD9.There are basically two kinds of Masters programs: (a)coursework only and (b) those with a thesis requirement
  13. 13. WORKING FOR MASTERS OR DOCTORATE10.But, if you plan to eventually obtain a PhD then youshould choose the thesis option to develop yourresearch skills.11.In some cases students can register for a programthat results in a masters and a doctoral degree
  14. 14. WORKING FOR MASTERS OR DOCTORATEPhD (Doctoral) Degree—Most of PhD programs often offer fullscholarships and a living stipend1.Most candidates spend three to six years earning this degree2.In the first two to three years of a PhD program, you takecourses to satisfy your degree requirements and gain a broadknowledge of the field3.You then choose an advisor, find an area that will lead to apromising dissertation topic write a dissertation proposal, andyou develop a working relationship with other professors inyour department4.A PhD student is usually required to present a writtendissertation proposal to their research committee and defend itin an oral exam
  15. 15. WORKING FOR MASTERS OR DOCTORATE5. Most doctoral students also work as teaching assistants andsome work as research assistants6. At the end of the 2nd or 3rd year, PhD students complete athesis, take comprehensive exams or both7. The thesis & exams demonstrate your qualification tocontinue with doctoral work8. After comprehensive exam and defending the proposal, youfocus on your dissertation, which is supposed to contribute toknowledge in your field.9. When you’ve finally finished, you are required to presentand defend your work before a faculty committee.
  16. 16. CHALLENGES TO ANTICIPATEAcademic RigorAs a graduate student, you must be sufficientlyengaged so that you will have the desire to learn, tobe prepared, and to treat the experience with asmuch dedication as you would be expected to applyas a professional.Academic rigor can be considered under threeseparate concepts 1. Quantity–the amount of work students are expected to do 2. Quality–the extent to which students are expected to be brilliant, creative, insightful, and the like 3. Consistency—continuous excellence.
  17. 17. CHALLENGES TO ANTICIPATETime management—There is never enough time for seriousstudent 1. How to keep yourself relaxed when youre overloaded with courses, research, teaching, and a life? 2. Try using time management techniques to get organized 3. Dont let your thesis/dissertation writing and preparation time drag you downAttaining a balance: Attending classes, studying, working apart-time, participating in extracurricular activities, and findingtime for friends, family and yourself can be a hard for graduatestudents to balancePostponing: Sometimes your thesis or dissertation can drag youdown. Research suggests that students often postpone studieswhen they perceive the thesis or dissertation as an overwhelmingtask. Under these circumstances, motivation has been cited asthe biggest problem that graduate students face in writing thethesis or dissertation.
  18. 18. CHALLENGES TO ANTICIPATEIntellectual Challenges: The bar at graduate school ishigher than it has ever been before and the mental acrobaticsrequired of you will be challenging to say the least.•Often times in graduate study, a student is required toprovide not merely a recitation of the facts and details but anin-depth analysis of the issue and to provide solutions orstrategies that can be employed in dealing with the scenarioEmotional Challenges: Graduate school will take a longtime. Once youve achieved candidacy, the research andwriting will consume you.•The sleepless nights of study during your coursework and thestress of the comprehensive exams will seem like childs playwhen youre faced with the problem of keeping yourselfmotivated even when the research is not going well.
  19. 19. CHALLENGES TO ANTICIPATETests of Character: Graduate school tests not only yourknowledge and aptitude for your subject but also yourdetermination and perseverance. Youll get through onlyif:(1) You have a passion for learning and love whatyoure doing; (2)You can keep your focus andconcentration; and (3)You have the undeniable urge toemerge victorious.Commitment: Sometimes it might require you to studyand research during scheduled breaks unlike inundergraduate studies where there are relieved inwinter, spring, summer, and fall breaks off . Pursuinggraduate studies entails that a student must be able tokeep up with the academic load that is required while atthe same time be able to deal with the other demandsoff campus.
  20. 20. CHALLENGES TO ANTICIPATEResearch: Research in graduate school represents afocused, personal research effort where you take the leadon your own, unique project. Your adviser is not going tohold your hands and tell you what to do every step of theway.Stubbornness: Nobody finishes graduate school withoutbeing tenacious. Stubbornness means sticking with thingseven when you get depressed or when things arent goingwell. You will encounter unexpected problems and obstaclesthat can add months or years to the graduate project. Itsvery easy to become depressed and unmotivated aboutgoing on.
  21. 21. CHALLENGES TO ANTICIPATEFlexibility: Flexibility means taking advantage ofopportunities and synergies, working around problems, andbeing willing to change plans as required. You must beflexible in your approach and research programInterpersonal skills: Success in graduate school dependsa great deal upon your ability to build and maintaininterpersonal relationships with your adviser, yourcommittee, your research and support staff and your fellowstudents.
  22. 22. CHALLENGES TO ANTICIPATEHow to manage time as a Graduate Student?1.You need to allow yourself plenty of time for both work andschool assignments2.Don’t take too many courses at one time3.Inform your employer that you’re attending school whileworking4.Look for schools with flexible class schedules5.Make a schedule & stick to it6.Remember to sleep7.Seek out other sources for funding your education
  23. 23. NETWORKING Attend Networking Events, Professional Speakers, and Participate in Departmental OrganizationsTake full advantage of these events. While you may nothave the opportunity to sit down and talk with theprofessional speaker on a one to one level, you’ll have thechance to learn from his or her speech, as well as thechance to exchange contact information.Attending these events gives you a ―foot-in-the-door‖approach to following up with that individual, andpotentially expanding your network in the future.Signing up for department clubs and organizations is anexcellent way of connecting with the professors andstudents in your field.
  24. 24. NETWORKING•The first step of networking while in graduateschool is to develop a list of contacts.•Some of the contacts may be from theProfessors, teaching assistants, researchers andfellow students.•Networking with professors, fellow students,committee members and advisors is crucial to theadvancement of your education. You can gaininformation, visibility, feedback, career advice,friendship and social and emotional support.
  25. 25. NETWORKING WITH OTHER STUDENTSStudy groups are very common in graduate school.1.By participating in group study, you can supplement yourindividual study and gain a greater understanding of classmaterial.2.Study groups also provide the opportunity to:  Share notes, study tips, and ideas.  Learn class material faster and easier.  Complete class projects more quickly.  Make new friends and network with other students  Familiarize yourself with practices by learning how to work as part of a team3.Make sure that the size of your study group is appropriate4.Choose people who will be committed to the group
  26. 26. DETERMINATION OF FACULTY EXPECTATIONS• In most cases, graduate student progress is guided and evaluated by an advisor and a graduate committee.• These individuals give direction and support for the appropriate developmental and learning goals of graduate students• The advisor and the graduate committee also have the obligation of evaluating a graduate students academic performance• The graduate student, the advisor, and the graduate committee constitute the basic core of graduate education• It is the quality, scope, and extent of interaction in this group that determine the significance of the graduate experience
  27. 27. DETERMINATION OF FACULTY EXPECTATIONS• High quality graduate education requires professional and ethical conduct of the participants• Faculty and graduate students have mutual responsibilities in ensuring academic standards and quality graduate programs.• Excellence in graduate education is achieved when faculty and students are inspired, have the academic and professional backgrounds essential to function and are genuine in their mutual desire to see one another triumph.• Any action that negatively affects this interaction-from either faculty member or student-destroys the whole relationship.• Mutual respect is critical to the successful process
  28. 28. DETERMINATION OF FACULTY EXPECTATIONS Expectation of the advisor from the graduate student• Maintain a good relationship with your graduate advisor is imperative to good practices• If your advisor pays you for the research or TA, try to focus finishing the piece of work than counting number of hours you worked (impress him)• Advisor may certainly have connections inside and outside the institution that could prove invaluable• Graduate student should behave in a professional way in all interactions with the advisor• Ask you advisor before you register for elective courses
  29. 29. DETERMINATION OF FACULTY EXPECTATIONS Expectation of the advisor from the graduate student• Follow his/her directions, be punctual to his/her assignments.• Help advisor in report writing and publications (if possible)• Graduate students are expected to be very proactive in consulting with their faculty academic & research advisors to stay on the right track and to seek academic advice
  30. 30. CREDITS Dr. Deo Chimba, PE Assistant Professor Tennessee State UniversityDepartment of Civil & Environmental Engineering 3500 John Merritt Blvd. Nashville, TN 37209 Slide design © 2009, Mid-America Transportation Center. All rights reserved.