How I Am Going to Organize Myself For Grad School

How I Am Going To.jpgHello Beauties! Today I am going to be writing about how I am planning on staying organized for my new graduate school program! This is just a potential plan, however, during my post-bacc program, I learned some of the things I was doing to stay organized weren’t working or I want to change to make better in the future. So here we go 🙂

  1. A digital journal/planner! I swear by a good planner! I attribute a HUGE part of my success in school to Planners. Planners allow me to keep everything in one place and stay organized. I rarely forget things because it’s in my planner and it takes the hard part of trying to remember everything out of it for me. I also feel like taking time to write in my planner is a form of mindfulness – I can’t multitask and plan correctly. It allows me to focus on that moment of planning. I recently converted to digital planning using Microsoft One and I am freaking in love. Planners help me see the big picture of everything I need to do. Here is a video showing you how I created it – watch here.
  2. Assignment sheets/checklist – I started creating these my junior year of college. Using all my syllabi I basically I make a chart/list of every assignment due for that semester. I normally have assignment name, class name, due date, and points as headers. For some reason, this really helps me towards the end of the semester when things are getting hectic. I try to work ahead as much as possible and the assignment sheet keeps me on track so I never miss an assignment.

  3. Apple/Google Calendars for iOS. I am obsessed with my apple/google calendars. I literally input everything on them. For me, I like to be able to physically see my calendar/schedule on my phone. It’s convenient for me because I ALWAYS have my phone. I have a calendar for almost every aspect of my life. I am going to be using the following color system.
    • School/Study/Work on Assignments – Pink-ish Red.
    • Blog/Youtube things – Purple
    • Exercise/Walk Nehemiah – Orange
    • Home/Parent/Family things – Blue
    • Birthdays – Red
    • Social/Church/Lunch/Brunch/Hang Outs – Green
  4. An Organized School Bag. I alternate between using an actual backpack and a tote bag (depending on how I am dressed typically). This year, I am really going to focus on carrying less “just in case” things. Since I am planning on taking my notes digitally – will try to only carry my iPad and books.
  5. As I just mentioned above I will be writing all of my notes digitally using my Apple iPad Pro. Depending on how the class is set up I will most likely handwrite my notes and then go back and transcribe them as a study method. However, for some classes I know that will not be feasible and I will have to type my notes using my Bluetooth keyboard. The main reason I want to go digital is that I want to carry around less junk and streamline every part of this grad school process.

I hope this helps you get organized for school! What are some of the methods you are planning to use to stay organized in the fall? Share below in the comments!

XOXO, Tanesha Renae

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Application Season Tips & Tricks

06..jpgHello Beautiful People!

As many of you all know, I recently got accepted into the graduate program of my freaking dreams – a Clinical Psychology M.S. to Ph.D. program. I applied to 12 programs (not all clinical) and will say I had a pretty successful season in my opinion. I will be sharing a more in-depth look at my graduate school application organizational system over on my youtube channel (click here to watch now). I think one of the main things that kept me sane in this process was (1.) I had a lot of help BUT (2.) I had a good system in place of how to go through this process. Hopefully, it is not geared too much towards psych programs and can help people across all disciplines!

  • The first tip is to narrow down the schools you want to apply to in the summer. I won’t say I followed this tip exactly, but going into the fall semester I had a rough idea of which schools I wanted to apply for. However, I did spend about two additional weeks going through the schools with my advisors, re-evaluating my list, adding and dropping certain schools – which is okay! I think by the first or second week of September, you should have a definitive list.
  • Create a chart/spreadsheet/word document of information. This sort of goes along with the first tip. You should do this as you are narrowing down your list of schools. I will go into more detail about this in that youtube video (click here to view the video). Things you could include in your spreadsheet include:
    1. Potential advisor(s)/Main research interest
    2. Type of Program/Specialization
    3. Program website
    4. Costs
    5. Location
    6. The acceptance rate of applicants
    7. Average GRE scores
    8. Average GPA
    9. The name Professor you want to work with
    10. # of students funded
    11. #of years it takes to graduate on average
    12. The due date for application
    13. GRE test(s) required
    14. GRE code (for sending scores)
    15. Number of recommendation letters required
    16. Number of transcripts required
    17. Address to send hard copy materials
    18. Application fee
  • The next tip I have for you is to create yourself a timeline. Now depending on how your current life situation is looking (like if you have a job or in school still), your timeline will look different. The timeline is not going to HARD deadlines, but for me, the deadline kept me on track with what I needed to do and by when. My main goal was to finish all of my applications before Thanksgiving. I also adjusted for things that could go wrong for example, I allocated extra time for my GRE scores and transcripts to arrive. Below is a screenshot of my “timeline.” – Did I meet all of these deadlines – absolutely not, but it helped keep me on track.

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  • This is something I wish I spent more time on, but you should absolutely budget funds/estimate how much application season is going to cost you as soon as possible. I am not sure if anyone told you but applying to graduate school is SUPER expensive and there are not a lot of scholarships out there to help you apply (however, I have heard if you ask for a fee waiver you are more likely to get one – I’m not sure how true this is but that what I heard through the grapevine). After finding the schools I wanted to apply for, I made an estimation of costs excel sheet. This included application fees, transcript fees, GRE test, and sending the GRE scores. This estimation helped me budget my stipend appropriately in the fall to make sure I had enough money to pay for everything.
  • My next tip is for you to start applying as soon as possible. I believe this is the tip that saved me the most time on the tail end. As soon as the applications opened in the fall, I made accounts and filled in as much information as possible, such as name, race, and all other easy parts of the applications. Once this was done, the only parts of the applications I still had to complete was uploading my personal statements/statements of purpose, uploading my CV, sending GRE scores and transcripts and paying for the application. This made the process much more streamlined.
  • Decide on an organizational system! So the biggest part of applying (outside of actually applying) is staying organized so that you don’t drive yourself crazy. Some people I know kept everything in a folder on their computer, or used multiple sheets within an excel document, while others put everything in the cloud. I personally used Microsoft One Note to create a “notebook” to keep all my checklists, to-do lists, drafts of statements/emails/etc and everything else regarding applications all in one place. This worked out the best for me. Whatever works best for you – is the method you should use!

I hope this helps you get started on this exciting process! And if you need more help or advice – don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I don’t bite 🙂

XOXO, Tanesha

Things I Learned In My Post-Bacc Experience

101.jpgHello Wonderful People! Happy Wednesday! By the time this blog post goes up, my post-bacc experience will be completely over. The actual program ended in April, but I have been working part-time as a research assistant with my advisor – so it doesn’t really feel like it’s ended! Let me start this blog post by stating that the Hot Metal Bridge Program at the University of Pittsburgh is AMAZING. I can personally speak for the psychology section of the program and this program has really been life changing. It allowed me to get a “taste” to be immersed into a graduate school program – I was considered a first year graduate student.  This program taught me alot about psychology and graduate school, but most importantly this program taught me alot about myself. I will forever be grateful.

  1. The first thing I learned was the importance of time management.  Within a graduate school program, at least for psychology, the amount of time that is structured is very slim outside of your classes. You have to decide when and how you will do your research, assistantship obligations, etc. For me, this was a hard adjustment at first. I have always been a scheduler/calendar person – but it took me until the second or third week to fully understand that I basically am going to have to make my own schedule. Once I got into a system with doing that, it was much easier. But I had to get used to no one breathing down my neck  not having to check in with my advisor every second of the day or having someone telling me what I need to be doing or where I need to be.
  2. I also learned that I need a social circle/community (not saying that my social circle was bad at Pitt). As I am about to transition into a clinical psychology Ph.D. program, I recognized that I am going to have to be more intentional about building my friend group and community once I move to STL. There are times in Pittsburgh, where I felt very isolated and alone (not the fault of my cohort). It’s something about being the only Black girl in the entire 1st-year cohort that really messed with my head, so I am going to have to be more intentional about creating these spaces for myself. This way I don’t have to call/facetime my parents 50 times a day when I need to vent.
  3. Additionally, I learned that graduate school is going to be tough. Applying to graduate school was super rough, but my being persistent and steadfast is what really carried me through. This is a journey or a marathon BUT not a sprint. I am going to have to remind myself to pace myself. I won’t be able to get to the finish line without taking proper care of myself in all ways. During this first year, I am going to try to schedule in self-care more, so even when things are getting hectic I will be able to handle it.
  4. It is okay to outgrow and grow into people and places. Moving 7 hours from home and my social support system has really taught me that some of the people I considered close where only close because we lived near each other. And while it hurts, sometimes i just think that we outgrow people and places. Instead of framing it as a loss, I am trying to frame it as there are spaces opening up in my life for new, exciting people and places.
  5. I’ve learned really what it means when people say, “its okay not to be okay.” I really don’t have to have it all together all the time. Even though I really want to have it all together. I don’t want to come off as I am living this perfect life – because I am not. There have been tough times and I have spent months not being okay – but also not feeling up to admitting to people mentoring me that I wasn’t okay. Thus making me suffer in silence. I am trying to be as transparent as possible with my social media, but it still feels like a highlight reel. I am working on it though and allowing people to be there for me.

Have you learned anything about yourself in the last six months?? Share below!

XOXO, Tanesha

My Grad School Story – The Truth.

homemade recipe # 5

In an effort to be transparent and truthful about my journey to graduate school. I felt a blog post was in order, I tried twice to condense everything into an Instagram caption, but there was too much left out. I know, popular culture right now says to “move in private, live in private,” but that’s not me. I wanted to share my story in efforts to help someone else who is going through or about to go through the same process.

So, this story actually started in May 2017. I shared this tweet. I wanted to start speaking into existence this goal that had been on my heart for years now. Peep the date (and follow me on twitter!).

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Shortly thereafter, like 2 months later I was accepted into my Post-Baccalaureate program in Pittsburgh. Which has literally been the greatest opportunity ever. I have learned so much and gained so much knowledge about graduate school that I would’ve never gotten otherwise. One of the main purposes of this program is to “bridge” students into a graduate school program preferably a Ph.D. program.

I applied to 12 Schools, 10 of which were Ph.D. Programs. I was feeling pretty good about every application. I recognized that my new application was MUCHHHH stronger than the one I submitted during my senior year at Hampton. Next, I had to play the waiting game, waiting for interviews. For most clinical psychology Ph.D. programs, you have to interview to even be considered for one of their spots. In this field, there is a very limited number of spots available each year. No interview = no admission chances. The waiting game here was pretty alright. I figured I would at least get one interview invitation. The interview invitations started rolling in. 1 here, 1 there… then by the end, I had 8 offers to interview. 1 for a master’s program and 7 for Ph.D. programs. I was feeling pretty good at this point, I had definitely exceeded my expectations.

After all the interviews began the REAL waiting game and this is the part I felt like no one really prepared me for. Everyone was telling me and encouraging me that I would hear back in about a week or so after the interview. But I wasn’t, it was just silence – on all fronts. So naturally, I started getting stressed out about it, because I should at least get one offer, right? Wrong. I start getting rejected instead. Being rejected from schools really hit my self-esteem as a person and as a researcher. I also was being waitlisted and for several schools, I was 1st alternate. I was basically everyone’s second choice and it made me feel really really crappy. I was borderline depressed, to be honest.

The month of March was so hard because nothing was coming through for me Ph.D. wise. It was a very very very sad time for me (ask my parents). It was like I was grieving the loss of potentially going into these Ph.D. programs. I cried a lot, almost every day. It felt like a crushing blow, like being hit in the face with a brick. I pushed people way fearing that they would not understand, and even when I did open up to them – they didn’t understand. “Oh Tanesha, just do the master’s program. That’s okay too.” I felt like everyone was pitying me. I was overcome with shame like I had let everyone down who was rooting for me – my mentors, advisors, parents, friends, everyone.  Which wasn’t true, I am sure that they would’ve been supportive of whatever I chose to do. But it hurt. It hurt like hell. I felt like a disappointment, to be honest, I didn’t have the problem of having all these offers like I believed, and my peers believed I would have.

After the 5th rejection, I figured the Ph.D. life was not going to be for me. There was no way, I had just been rejected basically everywhere and was still waitlisted at two programs. I decided to throw in the towel. I had 3 master’s program admissions in my back pocket that I was holding. I started making arrangements to go into a social work and public health joint program. Let me note here, that even though social work was my back up plan – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think that social work is super amazing because I do. I kick it into high gear with trying to get everything together to learn as much as I can about social work and public health. Essentially, going into both programs blindly because my focus has always been on psychology programs. I just wanna add here, shout out to all the Hamptonians that I reached out to about MSW programs and that helped me decide that this was going to be my next move. Also shout out to Dr. Duncan, who helped calm me down on several occasions.

By this time is the first week of April, I was fortunate enough to meet a woman who put me in contact with all these public health professions and set up meetings with them. And I was able to finally really see myself in these programs. I had a game plan, it might not be the straight shot for my goals that I thought it was going to be; however, it was nonetheless a round-about way to getting to do everything that I wanted to do. I was ready to transition my goals to this new journey!

I was ready, I was preparing to submit my deposit for the MSW program and submit my application for the public health program. For some reason, I got distracted and had to take care of something that was away from the data lab. I was gone for like ten minutes before I realized that I left my phone.  So, I run back to my office to grab my phone and there was an email from one of the advisors at the two schools I was still waitlisted at. I just figured it’s just another rejection email, so I decided to wait to open it.  Rejection hurts, and I wasn’t about to cry in the data lab. So, finally, I decided to go ahead and open it. And Y’all guess what –

I WAS OFFERED ADMISSION INTO A CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY Ph.D. PROGRAM!

Have you ever seen the Pursuit of Happyness? I literally felt like this scene below. I sat at my desk and cried with such happiness and joy. I finally felt like someone was taking a chance on me and my academic abilities. There are no words to describe that feeling. Just an overwhelming amount of happiness and relief. I literally just cried, I couldn’t do anything else for a few minutes just sit there in awe.

 

After basically a month of crying, and rejection a program that I was waitlisted at offered me a spot of admission. I wrote all this out to say, if you are on this journey to graduate school – it is not going to be easy, but don’t give up! It’s super messy, emotional, expensive and it will challenge you in many, many different ways. This was my second cycle applying and honestly, I would not have done anything differently, as a matter of fact; I was considering applying again after I finished those masters programs. I posted this quote on Instagram, but I think it applies here as well: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but NEVER the goal.” I think that even if you have to take a roundabout way to accomplish your goals – you should still do it. You deserve to still do it. You are smart enough to still do it. Be persistent. You (and your goals) are worth it.

Blessings & XOXO

-Tanesha Renae

My Trip to Washington University in St. Louis

So last week this time, I was packing up to fly all the way (this sounds very dramatic) to St. Louis for the second time, for a graduate school conference sponsored by Target Hope at Washington University in St. Louis. The conference was only about 3 days, but it was an amazing experience! So I am going to talk about some of the highlights of the conference, and just some of the overall experiences.

You know how that saying goes, “First impressions are everything,” Washington University in St. Louis definitely got that message and embodied it in their entire school presentation. The school is absolutely stunning. All the buildings on campus have the same matching; kind of “old brick” feel. All the buildings seem like they were built back in the day, however, the inside is entirely modern. Every building I went in on that campus was breathtakingly modern: State of the art equipment, fun bright and vibrant color schemes, technology systems used in every building. It was just amazing. This may be standard at other schools, but at Hampton University our stuff does not look like that – at all – not that I don’t love my beautiful school. The school is nestled on the edge of the Forest Park area of St. Louis, which is sort of like Central Park in New York. Apparently the person, who designed the park, wanted it to “feel like you are literally in the park/forest with feeling like you are still in the city.” He did not only accomplish this goal, he went above and beyond it! The campus is literally its own entity within the city/park. The entire time I was on campus, I did not feel like I was within this “big city.” I could see the buildings and stuff, but I didn’t feel IN the city. I loved the campus vibe and just the overall beauty of the campus. I felt like I was in this brand new, beautiful, environment that I did not want to leave! The campus was just soooooooooo beautiful and just so well kept. I never saw any trash anywhere, and the grass was so neat and luscious – I just wanted to lay in the field it was so just awesome! There were all these weddings going on. I saw probably 3-4 weddings going on that we passed just while on our campus tour.


        I could talk about the beauty of the campus for HOURS! Anyways, so now I am going to talk about the dorm room set up for underclassmen. So I stayed in the dorm called “South 40,” and oh my goodness! Compared to these dorms, I’ve been living in a shack on a dirt road! This dorm was so lovely! The dorm room was set up in a suite style. So my assigned room was a single dorm room (just for me), within a larger dorm room of three other “single” rooms. Each of the rooms shared a bathroom, shower, and common “living room” area. This room was so great! I loved having my own private room just for me, within a “community” of rooms. I thought it was very incredible. The room was super clean, and the University even provided us with linen and towels to use while we were there, like a hotel. I felt like I was living large and in charge.


 The Conference involved a tour of the beautiful city of St. Louis! So the tour of the city was great. If we are being honest it was not a tour of the entire city, but more of just a tour of the Forest Park area. Which was great still. I have been to St. Louis previously because I lived relatively close to the area as a child, and so my family always went to St. Louis for fun. I learned things I had never known before about the city. It wasn’t like all the facts you can read on the Internet either; it was facts that only a person who has lived there a significant amount of time would know. Even tho the area under the St. Louis Arch was under construction, I still had to get a picture!


 So the first excursion was a trip to the St. Louis Zoo. Even though we only had about 45 minutes to cover this large and beautiful zoo, my group of friends and I “power walked” a little more than half of the zoo! The Zoo was so awesome, and the animals seemed to be well kept. If you ever go to St. Louis I highly suggest you go to the zoo – it’s free!


   The next super fun excursion was a trip to the City Museum. While the City Museum is not free, it was worth the money to get in. The Museum is not a museum in the traditional sense, it reminds me of an adult size playground. The museum even has a rooftop Ferris wheel. When I was a child I was terrified about climbing around on the attractions that were in the ceilings, as well as going down the 10-foot slide – But I faced my fears and had a BLAST at the City Museum! If you are visiting STL, DEFINITELY GO TO THE CITY MUSEUM.


   The food was amazing as well! We ate mostly on campus, but we did go out to a very nice sit down dinner. The restaurant had my favorite food of all time – toasted ravioli! Another thing I want to highlight about Washington University in St. Louis is that the entire campus is green. There are recycle bins everywhere! You wont find any bottled water on campus, but they do have super clean bottle refill stations. Overall I had a BLAST at the Target Hope Graduate School Conference at Washington University in St. Louis, I learned so much about applying to graduate school, graduate school life, and just a lot about a city I’ve known about for years. Who knows, maybe next year I will be attending Washington University in St. Louis for graduate school!

Keep it Classy,

-T.Renae