Welcome Boot Campers

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“Writing begins when our fear of doing nothing at all outweighs our fear of doing it badly.”

     ~  Louis de Bernieres

So, how about a hearty shout-out to all the members of the Spring ’17 cohort of Dissertation Boot Camp.  Whether you are at the stage of proposing, or data crunching or actually dissertating, congratulations – you’ve made it this far, and like we’d say back in the day, that ain’t nuthin’.

For those not in the know, Dissertation Boot Camp is brought to you by your Graduate Student Center.  The boot campers resolve to arrive on-site every morning for two weeks, turn off their email/social media, and get right down to it and have at it until early afternoon.  They also get the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a Weingarten instructor to discuss their project, timelines and any unique challenges.  Dissertation Boot Camp has become a popular program, and has been running for more semesters than your blogger can count.  I mean, your humble blogger could count semesters, but that would require needless additional research, and procrastinating on the writing of this blog post by engaging in needless additional research would be setting a bad example.

For those of you who couldn’t do boot camp this semester, fret not, here are a few helpful hints from your learning center:

  • Inviolable Writing Time – Essential and non-negotiable, inviolable writing time is the basis for Dissertation Boot Camp and the “secret” to completing any writing project of considerable length. This means you set your weekly writing time and then you guard it ruthlessly.  Nothing and no one gets to intrude on this time.  If something comes up that needs time, steal the time from something else.
  • Log Off, Sign Out – Writing time can never be inviolable if you are obsessively checking email or social media. For three or four or five hours, you must remain out of the loop, away from everything that is not related to your project.  And let’s have none of that nonsense about multitasking; your project demands as much focus as you can muster.   Besides, in your blogger’s humble opinion multitasking is a sinister plot created by rogue elements in the human resources industry to make writers feel insecure about their “efficiency”.  Confirming this notion, however, would require additional needless research, and since we’ve already dismissed needless additional research, I’m moving on.
  • Visit Your Learning Center – Dissertation support is a popular service here at Weingarten. We can help you with managing the project or thinking through research strategies.  We provide you with a totally confidential, non-judgmental space.  Just think of us as the human embodiment of a hot bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich – soothing.

 

Pete Kimchuk

Senior Learning Instructor

Resolutions for a Fresh Start

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“And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!

            And gie’s a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught

            For auld lang syne.”

~  Robert Burns

Have you ever wondered why, when the ball drops at midnight, nobody seems to know all the words to the song, other than the pressing question of whether or not the auld acquaintance should  be forgot, and that bit about the auld lang syne?  Well, now you know.  Above is the 5th verse (yes, really, there are five verses) in all of its Scots glory, which now allows you to feel better about New Year’s Eve, and which now allows me to type the phrase “right gude-willie waught” one more time and drive spell check into wiggly red underscore frenzy.

Go ahead:  sing the 5th verse.  You know the melody.  Give it spin.  I’ll wait here.

Fun, huh?

Anyway, now that we got the melody looping in your head for the rest of the day, let’s talk Resolutions.

The problem with most resolutions, especially those of the improving-my-academic-performance variety, is that our planning can be overly ambitious.  It’s like resolving to whip yourself into shape by adopting a plan where you work out three hours a day, seven days a week and, falling short of the lofty goal, abandon the initial resolution for yet another shameful period of slothful anti-health.  It’s supposed to be a resolution, not a guise for self-punishment.

If you’re looking to post better grades and/or learn more, start with small, simple strategies.  Let’s get back to basics:

  • Review your lecture notes after class within 24 hours. This needn’t require a massive amount of time; 20 to 30 minutes max.  Couldn’t get to the notes in 24 hours?  Don’t abandon the resolution, adjust the plan and get to them in 48.
  • Go to class.   Even if you think you don’t get anything out of lecture because A) I hate the professor  B) The lecture makes no sense and I just get more confused  C) Life is so much better in bed  –  lecture is still three hours a week with the course material.  At the very least, if you’re not replacing missed class time with study time, you’re falling further behind.
  • Read more, especially if it seems like you don’t read at all. I’m not saying read everything.  Remember the whip yourself into shape thing earlier?  Same principle.  Start with Power Point slides, or chapter summaries.  And don’t just read for the sake of reading, think about what you’re reading.
  • Come to Weingarten. Our friendly learning instructors know their way around all kinds of academics-related resolutions.  At least one of us knows what a right gude-willie waught is.

Now sing the fifth verse of Auld Lang Syne one more time.

 

Pete Kimchuk

Senior Learning Instructor

How to Choose a Daily Planner

At the beginning of each semester we often formally or informally tell ourselves that we are going to be better about our time management. Perhaps it’s the looming reminder of the stress we endured when juggling multiple assignments at the end of the semester, or it’s the commitment to striking a better work-life balance. Whatever the motivations behind our desires to be better organized one of the first topics that come to mind are calendars and perhaps more specifically planners.

Last semester, one of our wonderful learning instructors, Victoria, discussed Google Calendar. If you’re someone who prefers digital planners I suggest you check out her post here. If you’re like me and prefer paper planners then this is the post for you.

There are many, many, many planners out there. Rather than orient you to a particular market I’ll give you some things to look out for, and an example of what a well-used planner may look like.

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PurposeBefore beginning a search for a planner think of the purpose for which you will need it: to keep track of meetings, completed assignments, study schedules, to-do lists, quick note taking. Identifying your purpose will prioritize the features you’ll find most useful. For example, if your goal is to use the planner as a central location for which to keep your work, study, and assignment schedules then having a planner with sufficient space and perhaps even an extra weekly page will be important.

Layout–Planner layouts are a deal breaker for many. A quick search for planner layouts returns more templates than could be used by one individual. They range from frilly and decorated layouts with coding stickers to plain and simple. While we not discourage the use of colorful planners–who doesn’t need a little color in their life?–we do warn you from purchasing something that although beautiful may not be functional for your purposes.

Timeline--As an undergrad I kept an academic planner (usually August-July). As a result I can tell you what I was up to on any given day in the past many(ish) years, as it pertains to school work. That worked well for me but I remember wishing I had a year-long planner during the school breaks. As a graduate student, a January-December calendar makes a lot more sense for me as my summers and breaks tend to be busier than before. If you’re looking to make a similar shift, this is the perfect time as you won’t lose out on multiple months in your planner.

Durability–Most planner are made to be sturdy so this is more of a reminder. If you’re planning on using your planner year round read planner reviews and keep an eye out for the materials. In my experience, bounded, thick cardboard covers, and thin leather covers work best.

SizeAlong with thinking of purpose, think of size. Will a small pocket planner work for you? If you plan on using it as a to-do list organizer then perhaps this is a good option. Consider how and when you will carry your planner with you: backpack on campus, purse to a coffee shop, for example.

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With that being said, here is an example from our very own Jen at Weingarten. During her search Jen stated the availability of sizes was a challenge: she wanted a bigger planner but even reliable online-sources were back ordered on the layout she had decided on. Jen, however, prioritized the layout of the planner she found indicating that “the extra page was key” for her and went with a smaller planner. Here is an example of how she uses the space inside:

Happy organizing!

Staff Writer: Erica Saldívar García

Reading Business Cases Strategically

 

Unsure how to tackle and analyze lengthy business cases? Join this lunchtime session (food provided) jointly hosted by the Natalya Vinokurova, Assistant Professor of Management, and Victoria Gill, learning instructor from the Weingarten Learning Resources Center, to share and pick up strategies to more efficiently and effectively read complex cases. By adapting your strategies to better match the purpose of your reading, you can learn more from each case and be better prepared to share those insights with both faculty and peers.

 

In partnership with:

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Welcome Back from Weingarten!

Weingarten welcomes you back from your winter break holidays! Hopefully you’re as prepared for the academic year as you are for the upcoming snowy weather. If you’re not, that’s okay too. Come into Weingarten for some tools and resources to help you start the semester on the right foot.

Take some Weingarten swag that helps you stay on top of things. For example, grab yourself a copy of our “semester at a snapshot” calendars. It’s the entire semester, every single day, all neatly arranged on one little poster. We will show you how to use these calendars to plan your entire semester so you won’t feel blinded-sided by that one vague assignment that wasn’t due till months later. Also, we have pens, the much coveted color sticky notes, and even stress relieving stars. The semester gets crazier as the weeks pass by but know that we are here to support your academic learning whenever you want!

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Staff Writer: Victoria Gill