Looking Ahead in 2014

Life after comprehensive exams – I have been looking forward to this time for the last month, maybe even the last year and a half…

IMG_5349 - Version 2Studying for comps consumed my life and mind over the past 30+ days. I spent most of my time over break studying. Then last Friday my cohort took our exams! They were not as bad as I expected. I was not worried about them but I still let anxiety and stress get the best of me that last week and the morning of the exams.

All of the questions were practical questions that I felt prepared to answer (The results are yet to be detemined by the graders who will let me know if I passed or not). And even though last week was stressful I was reminded how incredibly thankful I am to have the support of my family, friends, mentors, and cohortmates. It was definitely an experience that we survived together.

CSAA 2014 excited picture

T-shirts designed by Evan. (We took these pictures after comps but unfortunately not everyone in the cohort is in them.)

"The more you know, the less you know" Evan and I worked together to order the t-shirts for those who wanted to purchase them; they feature a quote from one of our first classes together. The wonderful Dr. Merrily Dunn made an eloquent comment in class about how “the more you know the more you don’t know” but when Victor tried to repeat it later but he said:

“The more you know, the less you know” (Lopez, 2012). This comment generated laughs (as Victor always does) but also became a standard saying within our cohort.

I took a short blogging hiatus while studying for comps but am starting to get back on track. It is nice to settle into a routine for the semester and work on my after comps to-do list. Also…I’m starting to job search (more excitement, more anxious emotions to come with that)!

Thank you to all who supported me during the journey to pass comps 2014 (Baxter-Magolda, 2002; Sanford, 1966)! – Obviously I’m still seeing theory everywhere and thinking in theories!

Do you have any advice for student affairs graduate students going through their last semester or starting the job search? Leave it below!

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Comprehensive Exams

Comps. Do you know what that is? It’s something that has been on my mind a lot the last 2 weeks, and sort of on my mind for the last year and a half. Not all graduate programs require this kind of exam. If you’ve never heard of them before, Wikipedia provides a brief overview of the comprehensive examination concept, also known as comps.

Picture of comps study notebook

In less than two weeks (on January 10, 2013) I will be taking a compehensive exam for my master’s program. CSAA-M students at UGA must pass this exam to recieve their master’s degree. If you are thinking about attending graduate school for student affairs, it is definitely worth looking at what type of culminating experience(s), if any, the programs you are considering offer. ACPA’s directory of graduate programs provides a summary of most programs while also stating if a thesis or comprehensive exam is required/optional. Now if you are really intrigued or considering UGA’s CSAA program, more information about our comps process can be found on page 27 of this handbook. Basically, my cohort will be asked to answer two long essay questions and three short essay questions (two longs and three shorts) by integrating and sythensizing our learning. To complete the exam we are able to make and use a two-sided reference sheet in APA style.

The Spring 2014 semester is going to be full of many wonderful adventures. I’ve already started my after comps to-do list. It’s going to consist of job searching, blogging, maybe attending a conference, running, spending time with my cohort, etc. But right now, it’s all about comps.

Did you take a comprehensive exam with your graduate program? Thoughts on the concept? Thanks for reading!


A digital story

With the fall 2013 semester finishing up, I have not had a chance to blog recently. But I have been working on major class projects and want to share one on my blog. This is a digital story layered in a theory for my CSAA multicultural practices class. In the spirit of being vulnerable and sharing more about myself on this blog, I hope this post gives you some insight into my experience and my development.

Digital story projects are an effective way to help students tell their story. Prompts can be tailored to the group so that people are able to tell their story. My graduate school cohort is very close, providing an opportunity for everyone to dig deep and share more personal information with their project. The assignment was challenging, because the video had to be short. It also reminded me how much I enjoy making and editing videos. If you are interested, learn more about digital stories from the Center for Digital Storytelling.

Join our class discussions – on Twitter!

A few of my professors this semester decided to incorporate Twitter into their course design. I am excited about engaging with my cohort and faculty via a “new” (to our classroom) communication tool. I believe Twitter is an effective tool to encourage and facilitate faculty-student and student-student contact. Rey Junco’s research found that “Twitter can be used as an educational tool to help engage students and to mobilize faculty into a more active and participatory role.” Twitter use is optional for one class but required for another. Here’s a brief overview of what we are doing so you can follow along if you are interested in our class discussions:

Dr. Linder and Phil Badaszweski included a class hashtag on our syllabus for Campus Ecology. Dr. Linder explained how she uses Twitter and informed us that they would share relevant tweets for the course via this hashtag. They also invited us to tweet relevant information with the hashtag.

Another class my cohort is enrolled in this semester is ECHD 7060 – Dimensions of Multicultural Practice in Student Affairs. Dr. Maddox and Ms. Hamilton created two subsections of participation and engagement requirements for the class. 1a is “Trending Social Justice” and 1b is a more traditional class participation format, In-Class Writing assignments. The Twitter hashtag for this course was created to provide a forum to engage our class but also our followers in discussions on social justice. A handout was provided with seven guidelines including: “tweet every week, minimum”, “find and follow people” and “make an effort to reply to the instructors and to other students to keep the conversations going.”

twitter-101One of the interesting aspects of the trending social justice assignment is that Dr. Maddox created her Twitter account the night before our first class, and is openly experimenting with a new communication tool at the same time it is a class requirement. How fun!

Is one of your student affairs graduate classes using a hashtag this semester? If so, please share it in the comments!  What do you think about tweets being a required part of class participation? Check out this infographic (posted on the right) for a visual representation of best practices in using Twitter in the classroom. I hope you’ll join in our conversations about campus ecology and multicultural practices if something interests you.