My name is Sam.
I am a Thunderbird who has left the nest to attend graduate school at TCU in communication studies. I am specifically interested in social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other cool technologies).
Last year, I was a blogger on tbirdnation.org, and I was asked to do a little cameo appearance this week.
One of SUU’s pitches for recruitment is the preparation it will give you for graduate or professional school. Well, I just finished my first semester of graduate school and I am here to hold SUU to that claim.
Was I prepared for graduate school?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Graduate school is hard, and it could really scare you. It scared me–quite a lot. When your professors hand you a stack of “extra” reading this big, you should be a little frightened about what you got yourself into.
While I wasn’t prepared for the quantity of reading in which I was about to partake, I was prepared for the type of material I was about to start reading on a regular basis. Scholarly journals are different than anything you have probably ever read before. They are not pleasurable. They are full of words you do not know and information you could have lived without. They are incredibly thorough and extra dry. I don’t even think Ray Bradbury or J.K. Rowling could save them from being difficult to read. The professors I had during my undergrad at SUU exposed me to scholarly journals early on in my college experience. Professor Matt Barton had me reading them from my first semester in college in interpersonal communication. This continued as I moved through the SUU communication department; each professor would adopt more and more journal articles into their courses.
As a result, I knew how to read a literature review. I knew whether an article was qualitative or quantitative. I knew about the methodology section that comes about halfway through each of the journal articles. I recognized some of the very weird statistical figures that often appear throughout the reading. In other words, scholarly writing wasn’t a foreign concept to me. I felt comfortable sitting down for hours (literally) and reading through them. Some of my fellow graduate students, as fab as they are, had never read a journal article in their undergrad, so this semester was their first encounter with them. I feel really blessed that teachers like Matt Barton and Kevin Stein had already introduced me to journal articles. It helped me make it through my first semester of grad school.
The other really important part of being a graduate student is writing. Writing for graduate school is different than writing a high school English paper. Frankly, it is a lot different than writing for many upper division college courses because you are producing original academic research. Doing so requires you to write in a way similar to the academic journal articles I described reading. Rather than read them, you get to write the unpleasureable, wordy, information-packed, thorough, and extra dry papers.
It can be a challenge to get into academic writing mode. It requires large amounts of APA citations and big words you don’t actually know how to spell.
Here are two sentences from a paper I turned in last semester:
Ledbetter, Mazer, DeGroot, Meyer, Yupping, and Swafford (2011) confirm both offline and Facebook communication positively predict relational closeness, and those individuals who use online communication to build social connections are more likely to use the Facebook. Everyday talk frequencies on CMC between cross-sex friendships and sex-sex friendships do not differ; thus, online communication might actually buffer against increased romantic intimacy among cross-sex friendships (Ledbetter, Broeckelman-Post, Krawsczyn, 2011).
While not the best piece of writing in the world, it did meet my professor’s standards for graduate level work. No one in graduate school sat me down and said, “Sam, this is how you write for graduate school.” That fact that this did not happen was fine because several of my professors in my undergrad at SUU already had that conversation with me. As painful as it was to write my senior capstone, I was very grateful it is a requirement for the SUU communication department because it prepared to me write at a higher academic level. Once again, there were several other people in my grad program who had never written a paper like this before so there was a very steep learning curve for them. I just had to sit down and get back into the mode academic writing mode I had been taught at SUU. While it was far from easy, I had the confidence I could do it. I was incredibly grateful for that confidence. It made all the difference towards the end of the semester that feels like finals month rather than finals week.
Have I bored you yet?
Just to make things perfectly clear… The Thunderbirds came to Ft. Worth, TX this past semester to play the Horned Frogs (TCU’s mascot) in basketball. People asked me which team I was going to support at the game. Was I going to show up in red or purple?
You can keep up with my graduate school adventures on my blog here.