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Wrapping up Research: Presentation Time!

After a couple of months of discussing how to do research from start to finish, it is now time to wrap up this series by discussing how to present your research. Looking back at everything that I have written about in this series of posts, I feel very privileged to have been able to share some of the knowledge I acquired over the past year of my life. Thus, this is a bittersweet end.

The timing for this last post is basically perfect, though. A couple of weeks ago the culmination of over six months of hard work came to fruition when I present my research at the Appalachian College Association Annual Summit. Because I was there as a Ledford Scholar, for undergraduate research, I presented a poster of my research instead of a speaking presentation. I actually had a blast!

When I got to the conference, the ACA had prepared a Student Summit for all of the Ledford Scholars. We first introduced ourselves and our projects to the other Scholars, and then we had presentations on job hunting and applying to grad school that I found incredibly helpful! I’ll share a couple of the best tips about applying to graduate school that I had never thought of before:

  1. Make a connection with one of the professors in the program you are applying for. One good way to do this is to read a couple of their publications, and then email them about your interests and possible research opportunities with them. Here is a link that can tell you more about that!
  2. Ask one of your professors/references to let you teach a lesson in one of their classes. This way, when they write a letter of recommendation they can touch on your teaching abilities. This will help you to stand out in acquiring a Teaching Assistant position that could potentially pay for graduate school.

After the Student Summit, it was time for the poster session. I got my poster set up, and then people began to come to my poster and ask me questions about my research. I found that I really enjoyed this! I got tell people what I did, bout my results, and even have a couple of goodhearted debates about the validity and outcomes of my project. It felt really rewarding for people to actually be interested in my project, and have acknowledgment for all the work I had done.

As far as tips on research presentation, there are just a couple of things I can say:Keep-Calm-and-Research-On

  1. Stay calm. I was so nervous leading up to the conference, but once I got there it was easy. It turns out, I am a complete expert on myself and my project, so questions were easy and discussion was fun!
  2. Listen to your advisor. Let them help you with formatting your poster, and finding endless grammatical errors, and figuring out where to print the giant thing. Most of all, my advisor was my biggest cheerleader and I am not sure I could have done it without her humor, help, and support.
  3. Practice talking to people about your research. Whether it is a poster or a speaking presentation, you’ll be glad you did. Suddenly the words “assisted-living facility” won’t get so jumbled.

I hope you all have enjoyed this series! Look out in a couple of weeks for my new adventure!


Why I’m Not Going to Grad School (Yet)!

As a junior in college, there are certain decisions about my future that I have to begin thinking about. Not only am I thinking about these decisions, but it is apparent through class discussions that my peers are as well. The decision that has been the topic of most of this discussion is graduate school.

I learned recently in my career planning class that there are three different types of majors: those that are a direct path to a career (such as veterinary technology or pre-med), those that are sort of a guide to a career (such as psychology or biology), and also those majors that could allow you to do almost anything (such as English or History). Keeping this idea in mind, a psychology major typically leads people to earning a Master’s or PhD, because specialization is important in my particular field. I fully understand that that in order to get a high-salary job in the field psychology, I will need to continue my education after earning my Bachelor’s degree. The only problem is… I don’t want to go to graduate school (yet)! Here are my reasons why:

I want to get married:

It is no secret to my readers that I am in a long-term, serious relationship with my boyfriend Jared. We have discussed marriage very seriously, and both agree that we would like to get married sometime in the next two or three years. With this in mind, Jared will still be attending UT earning his nuclear engineering degree when we marry. I want to be able to support both of us, and in order to do that I need to get a full time job.

I don’t have the money:

Graduate school is not a cheap endeavor. Even though I have been able to attend college thus far with minimal expenses, there is just not as much scholarship and financial opportunities in graduate school. Jared and I have both agreed that it would be foolish to start out marriage (and ultimately my own financial life) accruing thousands of dollars in loans. While there a great opportunities in graduate school to receive funding for tuition (such as being a graduate assistant), I just cannot imagine working full-time, attending graduate school, and also working part-time to earn my tuition.

My school options are limited:

If y’all can recall, I am earning my Minor Certificate in Gerontology. While psychology is my major, my real passion involves working specifically with the elderly. This is why I don’t want to earn my Master’s in a general psychology degree, but rather specifically in gerontology. The catch with this decision is that there are not as many options close to home to receive my Master’s in Gerontology. In order to do so, I will either have to move to a different state, or earn my degree online. I haven’t decided which route I will take yet, but I feel that I will be in a better state to make this decision a few years from now.

So, what do I do now? It is largely agreed that not going to graduate school would not be my smartest option, but obviously I don’t plan on attending graduate school right after graduation.

Here is my tentative plan :

Ok, let me just say that I know that life doesn’t always work out according to plan, but this is what I hope will happen! First, I plan to have three internships completed by the time I graduate. I am hoping that my experience, respected reputation for LMU’s psychology program, and specialization of my minor will give me an edge in getting a job. I would like to get a job soon after graduation, and get married soon after that. Jared will finish his degree two years after I graduate. In the time between my graduation and his, I would like to work, save money for graduate school, and practice the GRE (which is like the ACT for getting into graduate school). After Jared begins working, I can then go to graduate school.

I am not saying that you should not go to graduate school!

Let me just say, I am not advising my reader’s to not attend graduate school. In fact, I would highly recommend graduate school for all college graduates. Not only will it further your career possibilities, but it will also make you a more sophisticated, educated, enriched individual. I, myself, want to attend graduate school, but in my case I have to do what is right for me, and that is waiting a few years.

Are you feeling the pressure of making graduate school decisions? Please feel free to comment or email me directly at I would love to speak with you!

My Five-Year Plan

I am not an indecisive person. I’ve known what I want to do with my life since high school, I have been with the same man for four years, and when making decisions I usually think them through and then commit to them for the long-term. So, if someone off the street asks me what I want to do with the next five years of my life, I have an answer for them. It’s not that I don’t acknowledge that my life will change, but I am the girl with a plan. It makes me feel secure to have an idea of what I want out of life. I am not implying that those of you who have no idea what you want are weird people, or even abnormal. In fact, I often feel like the odd-one-out in this college playground. Without further ado, here is my five-year plan!


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