Thursday, October 29, 2015

4 Ways to Organize Yourself In Grad School

Choosing to pursue a graduate degree can be a fun and nerve-wracking time. Going back to college is super exciting (Geaux Tigers!), but trying to balance full/part-time graduate level classes with a full-time job can cause a great deal of anxiety. I should know. I'm teaching full time and a full time masters student. Balancing work and school has been hard, but I have learned a few things along the way.
  1. You start before the semester starts. In the first few weeks of school, you will find that you have more work than time. Lucky for you, we live in the age of technology. Hop on your favorite search engine and find your professor. Most have websites with class notes and homework assignments. Start reading and working before class even starts. This will buy you some personal time or can free you up to work on those random research assignments that crop up.
  2. Create a System. When class starts, you won't have time to waste brain cells on silly things like binder tabs and sticky notes, so it's best to create an organizational system now. I take 2-3 classes at one time and I like to use a binder for each semester of grad school. Here is how I organize my binder for each semester. 
    1. Each binder has a cover page with the semester. I put a hole puncher, ruler, and this fresh assortment of stickies in the front pocket.
    2. I'm a Post-It addict.
    3. I'm big on tabbed sections to keep everything straight. The first section is reserved for anything that needs to be turned in and is completed. Each class has it's own section for notes and hole-punched handouts. The last sections are for different types of paper. I'm in a STEM field, so I have a sections for college-rule loose leaf, graph paper, and engineering paper. 
    4. Writing implements are so personal and I tend to use a lot of pencil, but I am a big fan of the Sharpie pen and I carry the multicolor set with me everywhere I go. I also like the 5 pack of Sharpie highlighters. The point is you never know if you're going to be taking notes on ratio or annotating Galileo and having the right tool is essential to getting the work done correctly the first time. 
  3. Write Everything Down. I've realized that an online calendar just does not activate the same parts of my brain that writing does.  I find that having an agenda or planner helps tremendously with organizing my time. The one I use is pictured below. It has monthly calendars where I can put everything going on in my life, weekly's where I can put important reminders, and a yearly calendar where I can organize long-term projects. 
    Agenda found at LillyPulitzer.com
  4. Move everything once. It saves you a considerable amount of time to put things away in their assigned space the first time. It can be annoying to punch holes and put things under the correct tab, but it saves you from rifling through the stack of papers in a folder or even losing them if they slipped out of a binder. Also, be sure to write important things in your agenda immediately so that you don't forget. It's easy to forget a work or school deadline when your mind is inundated with both. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

First Semester of Grad School

The fact that I'm writing about my summer semester of grad school in October might be a good tell that I have been preoccupied with work and/or school.

The truth is that I thought grad school would be easier than it actually was. I had it in my mind that I'd go to class from 8am - 2pm, have time to run, and hang out with my friends in my abundant spare time. The reality was that I was at school from 7am - 5pm every day, would run home, do homework until midnight, and often times crash without having showered or eaten dinner.

I survived. I took 9 hours of graduate level classes this summer. I made a 98% or higher in all of my classes and almost lost my mind in the process. Had I not set up an organizational system for notes and began pre-working some of my classwork before the semester started, I would have been lost.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I am an upper school math teacher. I love my job and could not see myself doing anything else, but as rewarding as teaching can be it can be equally exhausting. Summer is necessary after ten months of working extremely long days that can spill into nights and weekends depending on the social calendar of your school.

Imagine my surprise when my first day of grad school was scheduled just four short days after the last day for teachers. The only break I had would be a three day weekend for 4th of July, which I took to go fishing in Grand Isle with friends and family. The next break would come at the end of the semester just 4 short days before the first day of in-service for teachers. I slept most of those days as I had to stay up for the last two days of grad school to write a synthesis paper. Needless to say, I began the school year tired.

I am enrolled in one 3 hour class this fall. It's much more manageable, but it is still a great deal of work with my current class load. The important thing is that I am very organized (sometimes to a fault) and that is extremely helpful. I plan to post organizational tips some time in the next two weeks to help any of you struggling with how to stay on track.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Don't Stop Now

Last Friday I finished my last day of teaching for this school year. This is normally a celebratory time as I get to enjoy the best part of teaching ... summer. This year is different. I have had four luxurious days of summer. Tomorrow I start my masters program at LSU. I'm really excited to be a student again, but I am not excited about spending the next three summers in school. 

If you're wondering how one spends a four day summer, then you should know I've had two massages, a swamp tour, boiled crawfish, pool time, and a day of errands and hanging with my furry companion, Clotilde. 

Now, it's time to prepare to be Forever LSU all over again.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Just Be The Champion

More awesome things happened on my blogging hiatus! My friends and I took a quick Labor day vacay to Las Vegas last year to see the Britney Spears Piece Of Me show and goof around as girls do. My love of Britney is pretty apparent in the blog. Many of my blog titles are unrelated to the posts, but happen to be song lyrics that I'm into at the time. So, it should be no surprise that this trip was not only prioritized, but prioritized in the middle of a school year.

We ended up being pretty lucky and found a roundtrip nonstop flight from New Orleans to Las Vegas over Labor Day weekend. People kept warning us that it would be very hot, but we found that it was comparable to Louisiana. It was packed with people from Los Angeles that drove in to party for the holiday.

The streets were pretty crowded and we did some sightseeing. After that, we went to a day spa and booked a poolside cabana and had a pretty chill day.

Spa Selfie! From Right: Fallon, Tina, Jeanna
 We also went out to some clubs and took some pretty grainy selfies. We had an amazing time dancing and people watching. It was super nice to be out of teacher mode and hang out with my friends.

At Drai's turning up.
Of course we had to see Britney! Thats what we came for! I wish I would have brought a more sparkly dress. Apparently, I missed the memo.

Ready to see Britney!


We had a great time! The show was phenomenal! I happy cried like a complete dork and my friends made fun of me. Whatever, I have no regrets. Also, this was the much talked about Vegas show where Britney told the crowd about her cheating boyfriend. So, we got to part of breaking news and that was pretty exciting. She had Perez Hilton as her special guest, but we didn't see any other celebrities in the crowd.

So cool!
We had so much fun in Las Vegas that we were kind of sad to return to Louisiana. Oh well! I guess that means we have to go back!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Work It Hard

My roommate Ace was super inspired by my 263 mile GCIR relay. So inspired that she sent out a large email to CC'd to many people saying she wanted to run a half marathon and that I would do it with her. There were only two problems problem. I was not planning on running a half and I had over scheduled myself with no time to train. Sure, I had just run a twelfth of a 263 mile race, but that was April. This half marathon wasn't until December.

I resolved to find time to train and made at most three 5 mile training runs before the race. I knew I wasn't conditioned and I was dreading race day. On race day I suited up and decided to just buck up and do the darn thing. The first 6 miles were a piece of cake. The next seven wee sent directly from Hell. I could no longer run. I couldn't feel my legs, but I could definitely feel my feet and they were not happy. 

By the time I crossed the finish line, I was sore all over and walking like I just got off a horse. I was happy that I made it. I was surprised that I beat my last half time by 20 minutes. I walked like a grandma for about a week after the race. Not bad for almost no training. 
Smiling through the pain.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Like It's Your Profession

I know I'm in the middle of this year end review of sorts, but I'm going to interrupt for some breaking news. I will be starting a 27 month masters program soon. I'm pretty stoked and scared. I'm so happy to be joining the LSU community again. It's going to be difficult while teaching full time, but I feel that I'm up to the challenge.

Now, off to complete the loads of admissions paperwork.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Watch Out Now!

My friend Laura and I used to joke about marrying into our friend Amy's family for the weekend crawfish boils, swim parties, and family vacations. It was a pretty long running joke that we never thought would be a reality. As luck would have it, I ended up being single at the same time as Amy's cousin and BAM! Sparks flew people! It was a match made in heaven and I somehow pulled off the unthinkable. I didn't just date my way into the family, I dated Laura and her husband, Mo, in too. Last summer for 4th of July Laura, Mo, and I got to do something we have been waiting eleven years for ... go to Grand Isle with Amy's family.

I know Grand Isle isn't an epic resort. It is a barrier island with a muddy beach, fishing camps, and not much else. But we finally got to go and it was amazing! We ran the length of the island in the morning. We laid out and caught some sun midday. We took naps on porch swings and we paid way too much for a sno-ball. In the afternoon we took the Jeeps out to the beach at Elmer's Island and rode around in the sand. It was everything we ever dreamed of ... Well, Almost.

We wanted to go fishing. The boys got up at the crack of dawn and scooted out too early for us to tag along. So, we made them bring us in the afternoon. They brought us out to a fishing spot on the shore and we had a great time, but we still were not content. We wanted to fish from the boat. This boat was not just any boat. It was Amy's dad's boat. It was the legendary Basshole! A sleek white vessel with Basshole blue accents, it was too good to pass up! Besides, you got a cool monogrammed hat when you went fishing in it. We had a great time catching mackerel in the gulf. Well, everyone caught a mackerel but me. Apparently, I can only catch pompano.

Oh well, there's always next time!
Clockwise from top right: Amy, B-Rad, Laura, Kev, Fallon