Talk it Out

This was posted on the Universities at Shady Grove‘s student blog Around the Grove on March 31, 2017. You can read my other posts here.

One amazing resource at the Universities at Shady Grove is the Center for Counseling and Consultation, which offers free individual and couple’s counseling of any student taking classes at USG. As the pressure of life and school are building to a peek at this point in the semester, now may be a great time to start taking advantage of this amazing resource.

Personally, I started talking to a counselor three years ago this month at my previous college and have continued doing so ever since. Therapy has had such a huge impact on my life, helping me through a lot of tough times and helping me to improve my perspective on life, myself, and the world around me.

A lot of people have the idea that therapy is only for people who are “crazy” or who are grieving, but I believe everyone can benefit from going to counseling. Personally, I waited to see a counselor until I was in a really difficult place in my life, but I wish I had started even sooner. We can all benefit from getting to know ourselves better and think about ways we can enhance our lives. There are so many harmful ways of thinking about ourselves and communicating with others that we pick up along the way in life that can sabotage our well-being and relationships.

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From To Write Love on Her Arms (twloha.com)

Many students on campus don’t know about USG’s counseling center, which is a shame because it’s an incredible resource. And let me highlight again that it’s free! Therapy is not cheap, so I highly recommend taking advantage of this resource while you can. Here’s some more quick information about the center and its offerings:

  • The Center is located in the Priddy Library (a little random, I know). When you walk in the library doors, go to the left and walk to the far side of the room where the computers are. The door to the center is on this wall. You’ll walk into a super zen waiting room and you can talk with the receptionist about making an appointment.
  • The center offers individual counseling, career and major counseling, couple’s counseling (your partner doesn’t have to be a student at USG to attend), and free hour-long workshops on well-being.
  • The hours are 9am to 9pm on Mondays through Thursdays and 9am to 5pm on Fridays. The center tries to accommodate everyone’s schedule so even if you’re only on campus at night or once a week, you should be able to see someone.
  • To make an appointment, call 301-738-6273 or stop by and talk to the receptionist.
  • You can find a list of counselors with a description of the issues they specialize in dealing with, their approach to helping people, and the days and times they are at the center to see who might be a good match for you.
  • Counseling sessions last 45 minutes and are typically done once weekly but can be done more or less often, according to your needs and schedule.

Counseling is a safe space to share your struggles, past and present experiences, insecurities, frustrations, and hurts without being judged. USG’s counselors are friendly, welcoming, and non-judgmental and are trained to work sensitively and respectfully with people from all ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religious traditions, and socio-economic levels.

The center staff can work with you to help you find a therapist who you feel comfortable with. Counseling is all about your needs, so if you think you could benefit from talking to someone in a safe space where you won’t be judged, given advice, or pushed towards a certain path (as friends and family can tend to do), then try it out!

For more information about the Center for Counseling and Consultation and its offerings, click here to visit its website.

If you or a loved one needs counseling help right away, visit this page for emergency hotlines and services you can contact or send a text message to Crisis Text Line at 741-741 for free, immediate anonymous help.

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Gear up for grad school apps!

This was originally posted on the Universities at Shady Grove‘s student blog Around the Grove on March 17, 2017. Read my other posts here.

Since those of us who are undergraduates at the Universities at Shady Grove are within at least a couple years of graduating, a lot of us have the question of what on earth we should do after graduation on our minds. One obvious path is going to grad school. While this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the great news is that USG has tons of resources to help with the daunting process of applying to grad programs. As I’ve talked to professors and grad school alumni, I’ve come up with a list of some of my own tips for applying:

  • Start early!!! If you are planning to enter grad school in the fall, you should probably start working on searching for, getting in contact with, and applying to grad schools at least a year (if not more) in advance from when you would start the program. So if you’re hoping to enter grad school in the fall of 2017, you should start the process in at least the fall of 2016. The earlier, the better because it’s a lot of work. Be aware that GRE scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. can take a while to get sent. If you are starting late in the game, limit the number of schools you apply to so you don’t get overwhelmed and miss things or consider waiting till next year to apply so you can really bring your A-game.
  • Research your programs well. Comb through every part of a program’s website and read about the coursework, internships, experiences, and faculty to get a better sense of what their focus and objectives are and how well it fits with what you want in a grad program. Unlike with undergrad programs, grad programs offer you the chance to really focus on a specific area that interests you, so find something that excites you!
  • Get a GRE prep book, take practice tests, and sign up for a practice class. These books explain the test format and offer practice questions, refreshers on how to do that math you learned in high school, and more. There are also apps where you can practice answering questions on the go. Best of all is that USG offers a summer GRE prep class for students and alumni, completely free to students, run by our incredible Center for Academic Success staff.
  • Find a mentor to guide you through the process. Whether a professor, a career counselor, or a current grad student, find someone (or multiple people) who can give you insight into the process, suggest programs, give things a second look-over, and offer advice and encouragement. This is crucial!
  • Talk to your professors. Get more engaged in speaking in class and meeting with professors outside of class so they can get to know you and your work in order to write a stellar recommendation. Not to mention, profs can be a great resource to let you know about grad programs they think would fit you, as well as recommendations for how to make your application stronger. They want to see students go to awesome grad programs, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help!
  • Gain internship, work, public speaking, research, and publishing experience in your field.  Grad programs can be extremely competitive, especially funded ones. So completing internships, volunteering, working on research with a professor, presenting papers at conferences and symposiums, and publishing in journals can make you a more impressive candidate. This kind of experience proves that you are serious about working in your field, disciplined, and hard-working.

Best of luck!

Ask a profess(or)ional

This was originally posted on the Universities at Shady Grove‘s student blog Around the Grove on March 3, 2017. You can read my other posts here.

For the first three years of my undergraduate experience, I was terrified of talking to professors. Thankfully, I was at a small school, so most of my professors knew who their students were, but I avoided ever going into office hours to talk to a prof unless I had a really urgent question.

Here at the Universities at Shady Grove, I’ve been so impressed with how helpful the staff are and what great professors we have to teach us. But I’ve also learned that it’s not just enough to take notes and pay attention in class – it’s also so important to form relationships with professors outside the classroom. Here’s just a few reasons why:

  • You will need letters of recommendation from them for jobs, internships, and grad school applications. If a professor knows you, he/she is usually a lot more willing to serve as a reference and will write a much more positive letter. I’ve been told by professors that if they don’t know a student much, they will make that clear in their recommendation.
  • They can give you advice and guidance. Professors have a lot of life experience and knowledge of the field you’re studying, so if you’re looking for career advice or tips on how to improve your performance in classes, ask a prof. They’re there to help and are usually more than happy to point students in the right direction.
  • They will be more understanding. Unfortunately, many of us will encounter some rough spots along the road of our college experience: illness, family troubles, relationship issues, or having five papers due in one day. If a professor knows you, she/he is much more likely to cut you some slack should thing arise that prevent you from meeting deadlines or doing as well in class. (Of course, it’s best to communicate with professors about these things so they know you’re struggling.)
  •  It will enrich your college experience. Knowing professors can help you feel more comfortable participating in class and more connected to school. It can also be personally enriching to have longer discussions about class material outside of lectures.

I’ve found it helpful to ask about my professor’s career path to get some guidance about my own future. I’ve also gotten advice from them on revising cover letters and finding places to apply for grad school. If you want to get more in touch with these great resources, here are some steps you can take to start to get to know your professors better:

  • Talk more in class. This can put you on a professor’s radar as someone who is engaged in class and interested in the subject. It also helps them to get to know more about you and your interests, and it can help you get more comfortable interacting with the professor.
  • Stay after class. If a professor mentions something in the lecture that you find intriguing, consider asking them a couple questions after class about that to break the ice.
  • Go into office hours. Come up with a few questions – whether it be about class material, career choices, grad school, your course selections for the coming semester, or whatever – to ask your professor and see where the conversation goes.

Professors can be great mentors. Of course, you won’t like every one you have, but if you enjoy a certain professor’s class or find them very approachable, it’s definitely worth it to forge a relationship with him or her.