Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

GPS for Graduate School: Students Share Their Stories

M. M. Browne
Kiana R. Johnson
William J. Peck
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Purdue University Press
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    GPS for Graduate School
    Book Description:

    This resource book consists of chapters by sixteen graduate student authors and two advisors of graduate students, with corresponding video vignettes that briefly dramatize each chapter’s theme and are accompanied by group discussion questions. The chapter topics include seeking funding, the challenges of the first year of graduate school, finding a thesis advisor, working with thesis committee members, balancing family and graduate student life, and life after graduate school.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-313-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    James C. Wimbush

    It is no secret that the United States is not producing enough graduates with doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math—commonly referred to as the STEM fields—to meet its needs in the twenty-first century. Reports from Educational Testing Service and the Council of Graduate Schools, among many other organizations and associations, have detailed the critical shortage of STEM graduates and its potential threat to the competitiveness of the United States. In an effort to address the problem in the Indiana–Chicago Midwest sector, three premier universities—Indiana University, Northwestern University, and Purdue University—have joined forces to...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Mark J. T. Smith and Lawrence J. Henschen
  5. Facilitating the Chapter Discussions
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Chapter 1 Locating and Securing Funding
    (pp. 1-14)
    Delia S. Shelton

    Nationwide tuition hikes and reductions in state and federal aid can be a source of worry for graduate students. At the same time, graduate education can be made affordable with access to the proper resources. There are over 2.4 million scholarships and grants, worth in excess of $15 billion, available every year to fund graduate level education. While the availability of these scholarships and grants is a boon for students, it also raises a problem. Applying for scholarships and grants takes time and energy, so students have to determine which funding sources are right for them and worth their time...

  7. Chapter 2 The First Year of Graduate School: Navigating the Hurdles
    (pp. 15-52)
    Christy L. Erving, Lauren J. Parker, Jamelle K. P. Williams and Sean A. Colbert-Kelly

    Many students walk onto campus on their first day of graduate school feeling incredibly nervous, often having no conception of the challenges that lie ahead. This chapter discusses some of the hurdles that first-year graduate students encounter: the highs and lows, the unexpected twists and turns, disappointing downturns, and proud successes. Making it through the first year is often an indicator of the successful completion of the degree, so maintaining a positive attitude in the first two terms is important. With patience and perseverance, the rough spots of the first year are surmountable and success in the end can be...

  8. Chapter 3 Choosing a Thesis Advisor: Surprise and Success
    (pp. 53-68)
    Kermin Joel Martínez-Hernández

    One of the most daunting and yet important decisions in graduate school is the selection of your thesis advisor. Inviting an advisor into your graduate thesis process is like hiring a ship navigator who will help guide your graduate study through the sometimes choppy waters of data research and thesis writing and into the safe harbor of graduation and a good job. Although you remain the captain of your own career, your graduate advisor teaches you how to use the charts and equipment that will bring you to the completion of your graduate degree.

    The specific steps involved in choosing...

  9. Chapter 4 Choosing a Thesis Advisor: Familiar Paths and Unexpected Curves
    (pp. 69-92)
    Nahyr D. Rovira-Figueroa

    Graduate school is often like a great forest with many unfamiliar pathways; sometimes you can see the way clearly ahead, and other times the forest is bigger than the individual trees along the way. For this reason, as the previous chapter also advised, you need to know as much as possible about your graduate program and the advisor you are considering before you set off on your PhD journey. You need a trustworthy and competent guide to turn to when you are not sure whether the path is going to lead to the other side of the woods, or just...

  10. Chapter 5 Working with Committee Members
    (pp. 93-106)
    Charles M. Rubert Pérez

    Usually by the time graduate students reach the second year of their PhD program, they have completed most of their coursework, started their research, and are thinking about their thesis proposal, preliminary exams, publishing papers, and presenting at conferences. From this point forward, graduate students work on research under their advisor until graduation, and therefore a good student/advisor relationship is imperative for success. But also important is the composition of the graduate committee. After all, apart from the research advisor, the graduate committee has the most influence on yearly evaluations, the thesis project, and the final degree approval. Committee members...

  11. Chapter 6 Balancing Graduate School and Family
    (pp. 107-126)
    Joseph Chaney, Andrew Fiss, Francisco Iacobelli and Paul E. Carey Jr.

    Doctoral students commonly begin their graduate programs expecting to study harder than they did during their college years yet still hope to have a social life similar to the one they had before starting graduate school. Students who have a partner or a family are no different. While they may be expecting to make some financial adjustments and sacrifices in graduate school, in our experience, very few of them are ready for the many other ways their relationships with their partner and children, as well as extended family members and close friends, will be tested.

    This chapter discusses these tests,...

  12. Chapter 7 Collaborative Research
    (pp. 127-144)
    Catherine F. Whittington and Kiana R. Johnson

    Collaborating with other researchers can be difficult, but it is also rewarding. Collaborative research presents challenges such as communicating effectively, negotiating different laboratory setups, and accommodating varied areas of expertise. These challenges become all the greater when collaborators are separated by large distances and work within multiple institutions. The payoff for dealing with these challenges, however, includes an expanded professional network, a broadened area of expertise, and new synergetic relationships that can create more possibilities for innovative research ideas.

    In our experience with working with individuals in different areas from various institutions and departments, we have found that there are...

  13. Chapter 8 Graduate Student Support Programs
    (pp. 145-164)
    Cyndi Lynch and Kathy Garza Dixon

    The pursuit of a PhD is a rewarding journey that provides numerous opportunities to develop as a student, a scholar, and a citizen. These opportunities typically vary as graduate students progress through their programs, culminating in experiences that individualize the degree recipient. Completing a PhD represents a significant accomplishment, but achieving this goal may require learning new skills along the way. Therefore, most colleges and universities offer several support programs to help graduate students succeed.

    In this chapter, we share stories from our experiences as student support program directors based on our students’ experiences that highlight some of the opportunities...

  14. Chapter 9 Publishing While Completing the PhD
    (pp. 165-182)
    G. Leah Davis

    In academia, the saying “publish or perish” is often used to describe the arduous process of publishing to gain tenure as a professor. Even earlier, however, having a published article often opens doors when graduate students go on the job market. Opportunities for employment can be missed if the newly minted PhD does not have at least a few publications listed on her or his curriculum vitae. The question is, in the face of the rigorous demands of graduate studies and teaching responsibilities, how can a graduate student also research, write, and publish quality work? The answer to this question...

  15. Chapter 10 Life Beyond Graduate School
    (pp. 183-196)
    E. Shirl Donaldson

    What happens after graduate school? Most graduate students in a PhD program aim for tenure track teaching positions upon completing their degree, but not all. Knowing the range of career opportunities that exist for PhDs will give you other options if you are unable or do not desire to secure a teaching position. In learning about these other options, you may also find different and more appealing careers that you can then pursue. Putting your post-graduation plan together early in your PhD program will provide you with a goal that can keep you motivated when the going gets tough. Completing...

  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-197)