Thursday, December 31, 2009

InsideHigherEd: Obsolete Learning Technologies

According to the Silicon Alley Insider, 21 technologies have become obsolete by 2009. Some will be missed (such as coursepacks!). You can read the details and comments from the InsideHigherEd article.

What learning technologies have become obsolete this decade? Here are eight examples:

1. Scantron Sheets

2. Overhead Projectors and Transparencies

3. Classroom VCR/DVD Players

4. Course Packs and Course Readers

5. Photocopiers

6. Microfiche

7. Language and Computer Labs

8. Paper Journals and Periodicals?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Decade in Review: Events that Changed Our Lives

The Detroit Free Press has an alphabetical list of events that have changed our lives this past decade. It's amazing to think that things we take for granted now have only been around within the past 10 years. I will list a sample, but you must read the five-page article for more details.
AIRPORTS: Remember when you didn't have to take your shoes off before getting on a plane? Remember when you could bring a bottled drink on board? Terrorism changed all that.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: From acupuncture to herbal supplements to alternative ways of treating cancer, alternative medicine became more mainstream than ever.

APPS: There's an app for that! The phrase comes from Apple iPhone advertising, but could apply to the entire decade's gadget explosion, from laptops to GPS systems (want your car to give you directions to Mom's house in Chinese, or by a Frenchwoman named Virginie? There was an app for that.)

AARP cards ... for boomers! Some prominent Americans turned 50 this decade: Madonna. Prince. Ellen DeGeneres. The Smurfs. Michael Jackson — who also died at 50. And some prominent "early boomers" turned 60: Bruce Springsteen and Meryl Streep, for example.

AGING: Nobody seemed to look their age anymore: Clothes for 50-year-old women started looking more like clothes for 18-year-olds, tweens looked more like teens, long hair was popular for all ages, and in many ways women's fashion seemed to morph into one single age group.


Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! See you in 2010!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians Are Still Important in the Digital Age

I found this article by Will Sherman stating 33 reasons why libraries and librarians are still important today as society enters the digital age. Information literacy and outreach instruction will become more important in the near future so that librarians, also known as information professionals, can educate diverse populations on how to effectively search for information. I won't list every reason on this blog, but it highlights some of the important skills librarians learn and practice: ensuring people have the best access to information. The digital divide is still real and widening around the globe. Computers (particularly the Internet) alone cannot replace the libraries, but it can complement libraries. Various organizations have adapted to cultural and social changes over the years (libraries are no different).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Link: Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian

I found this blog post on a LiveJournal site, and instantly laughed at this common question ("Why are you in school for that?"). If friends, relatives, or strangers ever ask why you are pursuing a degree in library and information science, heed these author's words!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fall 2009 Reflections

I am officially done with finals! One semester down!

I survived my first semester in graduate school! Yay! This semester flew by quickly, and the workload was quite intensive. I had moments where I thought I couldn't handle the workload. My peers came from diverse educational and geographic backgrounds. We are specializing in different areas (a strong benefit for the school). I took two foundation courses, two specialization electives, and a cognate in another school.

I believe I enhanced my teamwork and critical thinking skills. I also demonstrated my creative (artistic) side in several class presentations. The faculty also encourages students to pursue cognates outside the school; therefore, I plan to take cognates in other professional schools around campus. I had the opportunity to attend a conference and network with other professionals. I plan to attend similar events in the near future.

Happy Holidays everyone! I resume classes next month.

Update (11/23/2011): I am no longer enrolled in the School of Information. However, I will continue to support libraries and digital divide initiatives that connect people with information.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What are iSchools?

The University of Michigan School of Information is a member of the iSchools Caucus (also known as School of Information). It is a 24-member organization that is interested in the relationship between people, information, and technology. iSchools members combine five core academic fields (archives, business, computer science, human-computer interaction, and library science) to create an interdisciplinary curriculum. These schools are interested in the uses and users of information, and the application of information technologies. Scholars conduct research on the nature and fundamental aspects of information.

Degree programs in iSchools include course offerings in areas such as information architecture, design, policy, and economics; knowledge management, user experience design, and usability; preservation and conservation; librarianship and library administration; the sociology of information; and human-computer interaction and computer science.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

USNews: 11 Skills You'll Need for a Career

U.S. News posted an article about which career skills every college graduate should learn. I think this list (click on the link for a more detailed description) also applies to graduate students (especially those enrolled in professional programs). I will say these transferable have helped me succeed in my previous positions.

1. Writing clearly and forcefully.
2. Systematizing and organizing data.
3. Doing research.
4. Presenting material orally.
5. Taking notes.
6. Meeting deadlines.
7. Working on a team.
8. Getting along with a boss.
9. Multitasking and time management.
10. Seeing a big project through to completion.
11. Creative thinking.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Don't Forget to Read the Newspaper

I know graduate students have busy lives balancing academic and personal responsibilities. However, all students should stay abreast of what's happening in the world. It is easy to live in a bubble in school. I have listed my favorite news websites at the local, national, and international level:

Local and University News

National News

International News

News Channels

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Berners-Lee and Web Science

The inventor of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, wants to create a wiki consortium of universities that offer "Web Science" courses. I checked the wiki, but U-M is not mentioned anywhere on the list. The School of Information offers mutiple courses in the history of computers and information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The group, Web Science Trust, has set up a Wiki where universities offering Web-science programs can list their offerings and links to their course syllabi.

Why set up a separate Web-science program when other fields already cover the topic? "Most computers science isn't about the Web, and most information science isn't about the Web," said James Hendler, a computer-science professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who is a leader of the new effort. He named climate science as another new research area that has emerged in recent years by pulling people from different disciplines into the focused study of one area

I can't forget to say this: have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Video: What Is Social Work?

I have been receiving multiple queries about what is social work. I found this Youtube video which was created for a social welfare course at Boston University. I think they described the broad field of social work superbly. The video also has the "We Are the World" background music theme.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) also has an outreach website to educate and recruit students into the profession. It lists 50 biographies of social workers who are making a difference in a variety of backgrounds (clinican, therapist, consultant, executive director, professor, administrator, etc.).

Social workers engage in multiple roles:

  • Advocate
  • Educator
  • Broker
  • Activist
  • Negotiator
  • Group facilitator
  • Counselor
  • Researcher
  • Enabler
  • Initiator
  • Empowerer
  • Mediator

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NASW Launches New Social Work Policy Initiative

I can't believe I missed this important news last month. The National Association of Social Workers filled a major void in policy and research by launching the new Social Work Policy Initiative. The center will focus on these issues:
The institute will look at current issues such as health care reform, health care disparities and the relevance of the global economy to the social work profession, as well as issues relating to evidence-informed practices. It will also generate ideas or issues that come through the NASW Foundation.

The institute will examine issues that relate to the work of social workers, including how to serve people who have multiple or complex needs, as well as how change takes place in public agencies and other structures through which health and human services are delivered.

Additionally, the institute will determine how research findings get into policy, and will work to better position and strengthen the profession.

The institute will help create Web resources that will address frequently asked questions, such as social work effectiveness.

Joan Levy Zlotnik will lead the new Social Work Policy Institute.

As a macro practice MSW student, this is a major breakthrough. Social workers with strong interests in social policy and evidence-based practice research now have a supportive and vocal presence within the NASW Foundation. The social work field has realized that it must become more proactive to improve its image and gain legitimacy.

You can find more information about the comparative effectiveness research symposium here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Netflix-style Libraries?

I found this article through an email listserv. A Californian public library is adopting a Netflix-style library circulation system. Patrons can rent out books and audiovisual items without late fees. I think it's really cool. It's another effective way to get people into the library and utilize all the diverse programs and services it offers. The library can also make some money on the side using e-commerce methods. Cultural institutions are using creative ways to survive these tough economic times.
A Bay Area library is about to test a Netflix-ikle model in which library users can borrow three items at a Hayward Public Library for $2.99 a month, five items for $4.99 a month, or up to ten for $8.99 month, with no late fees. (There’s no free shipping, however. Some libraries in New Jersey offer delivery by mail but still charge late fees.)

Sean Reinhart, acting director of the Hayward Public Library, CA, says the “Fines-Free” Library Loan Program, the first of its kind, aims to lure back library users who find their accounts blocked—20% of total users—and give up on the library.

Friday, November 6, 2009

InsideHigherEd: Bookless Libraries?

InsideHigherEd has an article about the fate of libraries in the 21st century at the 2009 EDUCAUSE conference. Will physical libraries still have a place in our society? Will all of our collections and acquisitions become digitized on the web?
What started as a debate over whether brick-and-mortar libraries would survive much further into the 21st century turned into an existential discussion on the definition of libraries, as a gathering of technologists here at the 2009 Educause Conference pondered the evolution of one of higher education’s oldest institutions.

“Let’s face it: the library, as a place, is dead,” said Suzanne E. Thorin, dean of libraries at Syracuse University. “Kaput. Finito. And we need to move on to a new concept of what the academic library is.”

Do patrons still need access to the physical materials and objects?

U-M #1 in Social Media and Internet Traffic

This is great news. This further proves that U-M is becoming a national and global institution in the eyes of the media.
U-M has topped Harvard and all other U.S. universities for the amount of public interest measured by media coverage, Internet traffic and social media mentions, according to an independent national analysis released today.
For more on Global Language Monitor and the study, go to

Michigan (previously ranked fourth) was followed by MIT, Harvard (previously No. 1), Columbia University, the University of Chicago, the University of California-Berkley, the University of Wisconsin, Stanford University, the University of North Carolina and Cornell University.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

State of Michigan Economy Still Struggling

The State of Michigan government finally passed its budget, which continues a decline in appropriations funding to its four-year public institutions. This has major implications for public universities, such as hiring fewer tenure-track faculty and eliminating entire departments. The state economy is not in good shape,
From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Michigan State University has proposed a series of program cuts to cope with declining state support, according to reports in the Lansing State Journal and The State News. The proposed cuts include closing at least nine departments and more than a dozen degree programs, among them the classics, veterinary technology, retailing, and American studies.

The state's 2009-10 budget, signed on Friday, provides no money for the merit-based Michigan Promise Scholarship but retains $31.7-million in need-based grants for students at private colleges, the Detroit Free Press reported. The budget also spares Michigan State's agricultural extension services.

Although U-M is still operating strong, this is a major warning for the three-campus system. It can learn what not to do from MSU.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

U.S. News: Thinking about Graduate School?

It's that time of year again. Application deadlines are approaching soon. If you feel lost or uncertain about your next step after college, here are a few tips below.

U.S. News has a great article about the top 10 steps to consider when thinking about graduate school. This list is great for undergraduate students, college graduates, and graduate students applying to doctoral programs. Although this advice is more geared towards competitive programs (particularly at the doctoral level), I think it's essential for students interested in social work and library and information studies.

For more information about each step, read the article.

1. Don't fixate too early.

2. Get the tools.

3. Don't overload with one professor.

4. Take the professional-level courses in the department.

5. Try before you buy.

6. Get at least 600s on your GREs.

7. Get three bang-up letters of recommendation.

8. Give a great sample.

9. Write a killer personal statement.

10. Don't romanticize grad school.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chronicle Series about Adjuncts in Chicago

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a survey series about adjunct and contingent faculty in the Chicagoland area. The final data is very interesting and disturbing. Please share this information to your peers and colleagues. This could have greater implications on the national debate about the rapidly increasing number of non-tenure-track faculty in higher education.

Adjuncts who teach part time are now about half of the professoriate, making them a crucial sector of academe. But information on their daily jobs, their qualifications, and their motivations is sparse. To help fill the gap, we focused, both in a survey and in intensive reporting, on adjuncts in the Chicago metropolitan area. The region's rich mix of public and private four-year institutions and community colleges provided a lens through which to view the variety of adjunct employment.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SLA New Proposed Name: Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals

The Special Libraries Association, the unit that represents information professionals in many specialized collections and organizations, has announced recently its proposed new name to the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals (AskPRO) to capture the diversity of fields within the profession. This process is part of the Alignment Research Project which started in 2007 when leaders realized the original name does not reflect 21st century skills and expectations in an increasingly knowledge-based society. There has so far been mixed reactions. Some believe this new name excludes librarians and devalues the library science degree. How do you feel about this new name?

You may also discuss your views about this proposed change on Facebook.

Friday, October 16, 2009

NYTimes: Does the Brain Like E-Books?

The New York Times Room for Debate blog has a popular discussion about the future of books. Personally, I have never used an Amazon kindle or portable device to access and read text from a screen. Call me old-fashioned, but I need to highlight and write notes on the margins.

Here is the question:
Is there a difference in the way the brain takes in or absorbs information when it is presented electronically versus on paper? Does the reading experience change, from retention to comprehension, depending on the medium?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Newsweek: How Libraries Are Becoming Career Centers

This April 2009 Newsweek article is another great example illustrating how librarians help patrons everyday, particularly in finding and providing information about employment opportunities in a struggling economy. Librarians can also inspire hope to job seekers who need assistance in a community setting. Another great factor is the writer works in the Metro Detroit area.
Libraries are my world. I've been a patron all my life, and for the past nine years I've worked at multiple libraries and archives in and around Detroit. The library as an institution has many roles, but as our country struggles through an economic crisis, I have watched the library where I work evolve into a career and business center, a community gathering place and a bastion for hope.

This quote below explains how the economy has affected the state of Michigan:
I interpreted people's interest in our business collection as the first step to pursuing their dreams, but these patrons were not motivated by dreams. They were responding to reality, and they were looking for Plan B. In Michigan, a slew of unfortunate circumstances caused the first rumblings of recession. Rising unemployment was compounded by rampant foreclosures. The auto industry went spiraling, and with it, their suppliers, then neighborhoods. Michigan's deficit grew, budgets were slashed and business slowed. Southfield used to headquarter five Fortune 500 corporations; today only Lear Corp. remains. As the city shed business, it shed tax revenue as well. Department budgets shrank and a hiring freeze permeated the city.

Do you know any examples of libraries becoming career centers in your local community?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Top 10 Reasons to Become a Librarian

I found this website that lists the top ten reasons to become a librarian. This is a good introduction for those who are undecided about their post-college career options. I am spreading the word about a career in library and information science because there are too many misconceptions about the field (macro social work also suffers this same identity crisis as well!). An ALA-accredited degree is very flexible because there are a wide range of specializations (public, academic, corporate, nonprofit, government, freelance, etc.). Click here to read a longer description about each point listed below.

1. You Have a Passion for Organization

2.You Never Want to Stop Learning

3. You Enjoy the Silence

4. It’s a Profession With Range

5. It Goes So Well With Your Flawless Sense of Style

6. Your Co-Workers Are Probably Just as Cool as You

7. You Want to Learn Skills You Can Use

8. You’re Into Books on the Company Dime

9. You Enjoy Getting Time Off

10. You Want a Job with Security

The librarian of the 21st century should be comfortable working with metadata and technology tools (e.g., web 2.0, web design, etc.). The librarian should also enjoy helping people find information in more valuable ways.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Attention Macro Social Workers: How to Network and Find a Job

I found another blog dedicated to macro social work (woo-hoo!). He suggests five ways to find a job in your area (I am writing this in my own words):

1. Decide which track in macro social work you want to pursue (i.e., managing an organization, community organizing, program evaluation, or policy/advocacy work).

2. Do you want to work for a non-profit organization? foundation? the government? Think like an enterprising student. Search for organizations that have positions similar to what you would like to do.

3. Network! Unlike clinical social work, most macro social work job positions are not advertised. You have to know what is going in the social sector world. Attend conferences. Carry personal business cards with you. You have to sell your abilities and explain why you want to work with this organization.

4. Finding (and landing) the first post-MSW job will be the most difficult. It won't be perfect, but things will become much easier once you establish relationships and make an impact in your organization.

5. Once you become well-known in the community, people will want to recruit you. This can lead to better opportunities such as more senior-level positions and higher pay too.

As a macro social work student, you have to think like an MBA candidate. Some macro students may want to manage and lead a non-profit organization in the future or advocate for underserved constituents by writing legislation in state/federal government. The bottom line is you have to sell your skills and interests to stakeholders, colleagues, and allies. The best part is you will still feel like the work you do will have a significant impact on society. We are still social workers who help people, but our clients are larger social systems -- communities and organizations.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

U.S. News: Why Diversity Matters in College

A few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to listen to a university professor discuss the effects of the U.S. News rankings on high school students' perceptions of particular colleges. In his study, he discovered that diversity was negatively correlated to the prestige/status of the institution. In other words, high-achieving high school students were more likely to attend schools that were less diverse (predominately white, higher income etc.). These results initially surprised me because many elite colleges and universities make it their mission to admit a talented and diverse class of incoming students each year. Apparently, high school students perceive this as less important. If the student population becomes too diverse, it decreases the prestige of the college/university. First, I think this study acknowledges the ignorance of many students who come from segregated towns and communities. They may not have much exposure to other cultures during their childhood. U.S. News has an article about why diversity matters in college:

1. Diversity expands worldliness.

2. Diversity enhances social development.

3. Diversity prepares students for future career success.

4. Diversity prepares students for work in a global society.

5. Interactions with people different from ourselves increase our knowledge base.

6. Diversity promotes creative thinking.

7. Diversity enhances self-awareness.

8. Diversity enriches the multiple perspectives developed by a liberal arts education.

We all have peers, co-workers, and acquaintances from different backgrounds. An appreciation of our different backgrounds can also lead to more civic engagement in our society.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Weather Is Getting Chillier...

The last week of September really surprised me as the temperature quickly dropped to the 40s and 50s. Students and staff have changed into their fall clothes (jackets, sweaters, long pants, etc.). Buildings have turned on the heat. It surprised me because the weather is generally still warm until mid-October. It doesn't typically feel like autumn until Halloween. I definitely need to buy some more jackets if I want to keep warm while waiting outside for the next shuttle!

I just hope this weather change doesn't mean that we will have another brutal winter in 2010 (In case you're not from southeastern Michigan, the past two years have been very cold and snowy. I think metro Detroit alone received almost 80 inches of snow last year.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chronicle: After Losing Users in Catalogs, Libraries Find Better Search Software

The Chronicle of Higher Education also has an article about the future of academic libraries. The University of Virginia and other major universities are adopting more user-friendly search software for their online catalogs. Should library catalogs adopt a more Google approach to keywords and indexing?

You may also want to read this article, "For Sale: a Truly Academic Collection," a former college president who has amassed almost 3000 volumes about higher education in his personal collection! He even has some out-of-print and rare books. A very interesting article.

Note: Some of these articles may require a subscription to access the full text. You can check out more Chronicle news articles about libraries here.

InsideHigherEd: (Academic) Libraries of the Future

InsideHigherEd has a news feature about the future of academic libraries. I know it's a few days old (I've been very busy with schoolwork and other unexpected changes in my schedule!) that I thought it was a great article to share. Now this is my question to readers here:

Do you agree with this statement below?

"The university library of the future will be sparsely staffed, highly decentralized, and have a physical plant consisting of little more than special collections and study areas."

If you are interested in more library-related and information policy, check out these links below:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Public Libraries in Philadelphia May Shut Down

I think this situation is very unfortunate. The public library system in Philadelphia faces shutdown because the state government has been unable to balance their budget. This may not sound like major news, but many public library branches act as community centers for local neighborhoods.

While the library closures bring the obvious hardship of no access to free books, movies, music, newspapers, and magazines, there are bigger losses than that.

The closing of every library means that kids who go to the library after school while waiting for mom and dad to come home from work won’t have that constructive haven.

It also means that job seekers won’t have free resources and computer classes to help them get back on their feet. And anyone trying to improve his life with the GED, Adult Basic Education or English as a Second Language programs will have to find another way to do it.

I hope the Pennsylvania state government solves this situation very soon. As a graduate student attending an ALA-accredited school, libraries are important to all communities -- youth, adults, and the underprivileged.

[UPDATE 9/21/09: The Pennsylvania state Senate passed a budget vote that will prevent the layoffs of over 3000 city workers and the closures of all public libraries in the city of Philadelphia. This is fantastic news!]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Directional Signs in Ann Arbor

In the past two weeks, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority has mounted over 200 tall signs that will allow visitors and new students to better navigate the streets and find important buildings on campus. The signs are divided into four sections (State Street, South University, Kerrytown, and Downtown Ann Arbor).

Although I find the signs very unique, I noticed some already have errors pointing certain locations in the wrong direction. If you memorize the area, you will rely less on the tall posts. There is some controversy over these signs because Ann Arbor is not a big city. Overall, guests won't feel intimidated when they ask strangers for directions to such-and-such place.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

MSI New Student Orientation

While my roommate and I were dining on State Street, she asked me, "So what is the School of Information (SI) exactly?" I saw this question as an excellent opportunity to say and explain what are my interests more clearly.

I explained to her SI was formerly known as the School of Information and Library Studies until 1996. The Board of Regents approved the name change to expand and create a new class of professionals who will address complex issues in the digital age. SI students study how information is created, organized, preserved, and managed and how information is used in different environments. U-M was also the first to relabel itself a "school of information". The school's stated mission is "connecting people, information, and technology in more valuable ways." SI is in the forefront on technology research.

The diversity of my incoming MSI peers is so amazing. Out-of-state students represent about 60% (international students comprise about 25%!) in my incoming class. I talked with a few students, and they all said U-M, particularly SI, has a great reputation abroad. The program is small enough that the academic staff have already memorized my name and want to help me succeed in my courses and internships. The interdisciplinary and personal nature of SI reminds me a lot of my alma mater (small class sizes, focus on theory and practice, interdisciplinary collaboration).

MSI students had undergraduate majors ranging from the liberal arts to computer science and engineering. I also met older students who have been in the workforce for over ten years and decided to pursue a career change. We all have diverse career interests (i.e., IT consulting, information economics, academic librarianship, security and copyright policy, community information development, health informatics, etc.). It was very exciting to learn about our different backgrounds.

SI Career Services is also phenomenal. The counselors update weekly a list of active jobs for SI students and encourage us to create e-portfolios. SI has the mandatory practical engagement program, in which students participate in client-based group projects to assist local organizations with their information and technological needs. Finally, all SI graduates regardless of specialization receive American Library Association (ALA) accreditation.

I haven't even started classes, but I already believe U-M will provide me with the necessary skills and training for becoming an effective macro-practice social worker and informational professional. I was looking for flexibility in designing my own program; I definitely made the right decision to enroll in SI this fall. SI caters very much to its students, and I realized now why it is a top-5 ranked program.

Friday, September 4, 2009

InsideHigherEd: Staying Motivated for Graduate Students

I found this article recently published on InsideHigherEd, and it gives very good advice on how to stay motivated and succeed in graduate school. It is okay to be selfish to a certain degree -- take care of your own needs first and focus on the end prize. (i.e., graduating on-time, accomplishing your goals, etc.). Graduate school is a full-time effort, and it requires full-time concentration.

  1. Be as organized as possible. Have a solid game plan for getting through your program. Know what the requirements are for each stage of your program. Find out when these requirements must be accomplished.

  2. Set deadlines for yourself, even if there are no “true” deadlines for you to complete. Let others around you — your peers, family, friends, mentors and advisers — know the deadlines you have set for yourself.

  3. Keep a visual reminder of what you are working on in your office. On a bulletin board keep a section for things you “need to do,” projects you are currently “doing,” and items that are “done.” This visual aid will remind you that you have made progress, finished important projects, and are progressing through current tasks. This will help you avoid feeling bogged down and overwhelmed with the hurdles of graduate school.

  4. Find a topic that you are passionate about -- If you don’t enjoy your work, then you are not going to stay motivated when writing draft after draft after draft. Find a research question that really gets you excited or a substantive area that you feel has an impact on a community, issue, or problem that you feel is important.

  5. Work with other motivated people -- Make sure you work with other motivated students in your program and outside. Find a group of people on campus or in the broader community that shares the same excitement for your topic of interest. Let their interest help motivate you to push forward.

  6. Work toward finding a balance -- Remember what is important to you outside of school, whether it be family and friends, maintaining your physical and mental health, or working on a hobby. Each week set aside a few hours or so to spend time on something other than school work. Remember to set priorities in your life and every now and then check in to see whether you need to adjust how you are allocating your time.

  7. Don’t doubt yourself -- You can complete graduate school because you are well qualified to be here. You are working in your substantive area because there is something about this field that drives your intellectual curiosity. You will finish your thesis and/or dissertation because you are now the expert in that area. Do not waste time wondering whether you are good enough to be here — just know that you are.

  8. Let the guilt go -- Feeling guilty for not finishing a project by a certain deadline, or for not working through the entire weekend, or for not devoting as much time as you feel you should to something outside of your program, will only hold you back. While you should set goals, priorities and deadlines, recognize that you will not always be able to meet them. Let yourself off the hook and let the guilt go. Acknowledge that you are not going to be perfect at everything and that you will never have that perfect balance (no one ever does!), but at least you are trying — and that your persistence will be rewarded.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What can you do with a Master of Science in Information?

The Master of Science in Information (MSI) is also commonly known as the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS). It is the terminal practice degree for librarians and other information professionals. The American Library Association (ALA) is the accrediting body that oversees library schools. The 21st-century librarian must have technological skills (including social media) and find/organize information in myriad ways (i.e., Google, online journals, newspapers, geographic information systems, bibliographic software, etc.). One must understand trends in media, technology, and publishing to succeed in this profession.

U.S. News highlighted several information-related jobs in its best careers 2009 list. They were librarian, usability experience specialist, and computer systems analyst/architect/designer.

Similar to my earlier post about the MSW degree, the field of librarianship is also expanding into non-traditional fields. Information professionals work in the following industries:

  • Academic Libraries
  • School Libraries and Media Centers
  • Public Libraries
  • Special Libraries and Information Centers*
  • Information Systems/Technology
  • Information Services*
  • Electronic Publishing

Denotes my industry interests.

Public and academic libraries have the most librarians. Other librarians and information professionals work in special libraries. Many non-traditional librarians are entering fields in knowledge management, information brokerage, and consulting for corporations, government, and non-profit organizations.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What can you do with a Master of Social Work?

Some people ask me often what can you do with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. It is the terminal professional degree in the field of social work. The Council on Social Work Education is the accrediting body for social work schools. Social workers are employed in for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors. They can be found in the following industries:

  • Public Welfare
  • Criminal Justice/Corrections
  • School Social Work
  • Child Welfare
  • Gerontology
  • Clinical
  • Administration*
  • Research and Education*
  • Occupational*
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Health Care
  • Community Organization

*Denotes my industry interests. I come from a non-traditional background (macro practice) which prepares social workers for positions in organizations, communities, and social policy.

For more information about social work, check out these videos below:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

MSW New Student Orientation

~Reach Out, Raise Hope, Change Society~

I really enjoyed meeting other new MSW students at the U-M School of Social Work. The admissions staff said we are the most talented incoming MSW class in the school's history. A majority (~70%) of the students are concentrating in direct service with individuals and families (My declared practice method is Management of Human Services, and my practice area is Community and Social Systems.). My information packet contained a list of post-MSW career opportunities. Most MSW graduates in macro social work (my area) enter positions in Social Service Agencies, Community Service Learning Centers, Higher Education, Human Resources, Consulting Firms, Corporations, Research Organizations, and Government (all levels).

The panelists discussed student life, curriculum, career services, and field placement. They stressed assessing your skills, joining professional associations, creating a professional portfolio, establishing relationships with instructors/staff, utilizing the university's many web resources, and being proactive in student organizations. They also explained that it's important for all social work students to obtain micro and macro skills. It's important for me to understand the clients' needs and know the employees' skills if I want to evaluate problems and influence policy.

I also met with my MSW faculty adviser, and she told me that I am exempted from four foundation courses. Those 12 credits will become electives that I can pursue anywhere in the university. I will use 6 credits to complete a minor in Social Policy and Evaluation.

Here are more facts about the U-M School of Social Work:

  • Approximately 320 new students enroll each fall term.
  • Class sizes are generally capped at 25 students (strong focus on small learning communities).
  • The student of color enrollment is approximately 23% and the international enrollment is approximately 2%.
  • Nearly half of the social work students in the school come from out of state.
  • One of the few social work schools to have its own library and career services.

Social work is definitely becoming a more diverse field. I am very satisfied there is a growing interest in macro social work practice because all MSW students need management and policy skills. The Master of Social Work is a professional degree that is very flexible in for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors. People's perception of social work will gradually change as more future social workers (such as myself) enter non-traditional fields.

Friday, August 21, 2009 Social Work and Librarian Buttons

I found this site where professionals can buy very cool Social Work buttons at You can also find Librarian buttons here. Just type in your profession and the search results will list which buttons are available.

I thought the button above was so awesome!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Moving into My Own Apartment

Please excuse my long absence. I am in the process of moving my belongings and furniture into my own new apartment. I have just realized it is an exhausting process. I will update this post with my reflections later this week.

[UPDATE 08/29/09)]: I have finally settled into my own apartment. I am very proud of this accomplishment, because it means (from various theories in emerging adulthood) that I am a self-sufficient adult now. I am living off-campus because the rent is cheaper and housing stock is much nicer. I am also closer to shopping and other amenities. There is an accessible public bus route that will take me directly to campus.

I have a roommate who is also attending U-M for graduate school to help split the costs (utilities, rent, groceries) and housing responsibilities. We both do not come from wealthy backgrounds. She is an out-of-state student, therefore I have been showing her around the city, campus, and metropolitan region. We feel very fortunate that we are beginning the next stage of our lives.

It took several days for all my furniture to arrive. I have living room, bookcase, dining room, and bedroom sets. The place looks like a young professional's home. I wanted it this way because I'll be in graduate school for three years. I did not want cheap quality furniture that won't last a year. My roommate complimented how nice my furniture looks (hehehe!). We get along very well, and that's a good thing!

Orientation will begin in less than five days. I am very excited, that I can't wait!

P.S. Don't forget about purchasing renter's insurance. It's worth it!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Michigan Community Colleges Lobby for 4-Year Degrees

Several weeks ago, President Obama spoke to a large crowd of residents at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan. He plans to boost and strengthen community colleges.

However, the state's public universities oppose community colleges having the right to grant bachelor's degrees. They believe community colleges serve a different mission to the community.
So far, community colleges have won the right to offer four-year degrees in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia, the Community College Baccalaureate Association says. Legislative efforts to extend the practice could come soon in Arizona and California, said Beth Hagan, executive director of the Fort Myers, Fla.-based group.

Four-year universities in Michigan claim that this will create unnecessary competition. The universities are located everywhere across the state.
Four-year campuses want the community colleges to stick to their core mission. Michael Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, said community colleges should stick with what they do best: offering post-high school remedial education, preparing students to enter four-year colleges and granting technical certificates and two-year degrees.

"We have our distinct missions," said Boulus. "The two-year and the four-year institutions are very different."

Do you think Michigan community colleges should offer bachelor's degrees? If yes, should it only be limited to specific programs such as culinary arts and nursing?

Monday, August 3, 2009

U.S. News: 7 Reasons Why College Is So Expensive

U.S. News and World Report has posted an article on seven reasons why colleges are so expensive today. I know from my own personal research that college tuition increased dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s. Although tuition increases have slowed recently, national average incomes have become stagnant (and even decline compared to inflation) since the late 1960s, making college so expensive for lower and middle class families.

  1. State Appropriations
  2. Labor Costs and Competition
  3. Operating Costs
  4. Rapid Increases in Knowledge and Technology
  5. Government Regulation
  6. Economic Ebbs and Flows
  7. The Sticker Price Isn't Always What You Pay

Do you agree with this list? Why or why not?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NYTimes: Where Has Your Job Application Gone?

You find a job listing on the Internet, and apply for the position immediately with your cover letter and resume. It's been over a week, and you still do not hear back from a recruiter. Do you ever wonder what happened to your job application? The New York Times has an article about why the job hunting process has become more difficult for job seekers AND hiring managers.
First, the Internet has made it absurdly easy to apply for jobs. This means that unqualified people are clogging the system with their wing-and-a-prayer applications.

Then add rising numbers of unemployed people. More job seekers — qualified, unqualified and desperate — are hitting the send button. Acknowledgments are going by the wayside as recruiters confront hundreds of applications for a single job.

The best way to get your foot in the door is networking, networking, networking. Get a contact from the company you wish to work. Use online sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to find professional contacts. Attend professional association meetings and conferences.

Do whatever to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Before You Move into Your Apartment

So, you finally found a place to live when you start graduate school. I found an apartment and signed a lease in June. I secured a roommate in July to split housing costs. I officially move into my new apartment in August. The process can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some links I recommend for prospective and current students about apartment living:

You may also find that you don't need a land-line phone or cable television. Many students are mobile and rely on their cell phones as their primary number. Television can be a waste of money unless you must watch sports and are pursuing a degree in a communications field (i.e. journalism, etc.) High-speed Internet is the most important service you would need in your apartment. Just get a larger monitor (at least 22") and hook it up to your laptop to watch movies. Don't forget the Netflix subscription.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Reflections on the Admissions Process

In a few weeks, I will begin registering for Fall 2009 classes! I must say I did better than expected this admissions round. On average, I waited 4-6 weeks for an admission decision. The financial aid took much longer because I asked for more money (if you are in serious need, beg the admissions office and they will find a way to help fund your education!) Luck could be on your side. I also had to wait for the status of my course exemptions.

  • I received half-tuition scholarships that will cover two years of graduate study.
  • In addition to scholarships, I received federal loans and work-study, which covers my cost of attendance. (I did NOT have to use private or GradPLUS loans, which have higher interest rates.)
  • I received a semester of course exemptions. I have more freedom to choose courses across the university. I could also graduate early too.

If you are planning to attend graduate school within the next two years, I highly recommend this website: Your Guide to Getting into Grad School. It summarizes everything you need to do, such as writing personal statements, applying for scholarships/financial aid, and much more.

Orientation is a month away! I will travel and have fun!

Monday, July 6, 2009

NYTimes Series on Student Loan Debt

The New York Times Room for Debate Blog has an article series on student loan debt. Share these articles with college graduates and current graduate students. Visitors have posted comments near the end of each article. They are worth reading.

I will continue to update this post when I have more new articles.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

M-Card Discounts, 50 Tips for College Students

I finally received my M-Card, which is the official identification card for U-M students, faculty, and staff. In addition to having access to certain campus buildings and free transportation on city buses, I can also take advantage of student discounts at local Ann Arbor restaurants and services. For example, I discovered I can continue my gym membership at a cheaper monthly rate when I move to Ann Arbor. Sweet savings!

Campus Grotto has a list of 50 tips college students can save money. It includes food, transportation, textbooks, entertainment, finances, and other college expenses. Also check out Why College Students Will Always Be Broke.

Monday, June 29, 2009

NYTimes: New Loan Forgiveness Plans

The New York Times has posted the U.S. Department of Education's guidelines for the new federal loan forgiveness programs. This sounds like a sweet victory for college students. The interest rate on new federal Stafford loans, the most widely used federally guaranteed student loan, will drop to 5.6 percent, from 6.8 percent. By 2012, the rate will fall to 3.4 percent, under a schedule mandated by Congress.

The first option, income-based repayment, limits what borrowers have to pay to 15 percent of the difference between their gross income and 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines (After borrowers make payments on loans for 25 years, the balance is forgiven). This is better than the income-contingent repayment plan.

The second option, Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees, waives the federal loan balance after 10 years of repayment for anyone working in public service professions.
To participate in the program, a borrower must shift their loans into the federal Direct Loan program, in which the government extends credit directly. The forgiveness is not available for loans made by banks or other loan companies, like Citigroup or Sallie Mae.

The definition of public service under the forgiveness program is broad. Jobs in government, public schools or colleges, nonprofit organizations, public interest law, early childhood education, public health or public libraries all could qualify, according to the Education Department.

Click here for more information about the Direct Loan program. Share this good news!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Detroit Free Press: MI Students Struggle with Rising College Costs

Prospective and current Michigan college students are struggling with rising college expenses and tuition hikes. The Detroit Free Press has a three-article series below:

The University of Michigan Board of Regents raised tuition at the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses by 5.6%, 6.7% and 6.5%, respectively. Click here for more information about the current cost of attendance at Michigan.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Want to Save the World? Try These Grad Degrees

The Future Leaders of Philanthropy have outlined five professional degrees that have the greatest benefits (ROIs) for people who want to pursue careers in the social sector (philanthropy, nonprofits, social entrepreneurship, etc.).

  • MBA: Master of Business Administration
  • MPA: Master of Public Administration
  • MSW: Master of Social Work
  • MPP: Master of Public Policy
  • MUP: Master of Urban Planning

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Social Work Reinvestment Act

The future of the social work profession is at a critical point now. The Social Work Reinvestment Initiative is a collaborative effort comprised of leading social work organizations and other stakeholders committed to securing federal and state investments related to recruitment, training, retention, and research that strengthens the profession and the communities it serves. The National Association of Social Work (NASW) Executive Director stated the following:
Professional social workers provide essential services to individuals across the lifespan and have long been the workforce to guide people to critical resources, counsel them on important life decisions, and help them reach their full potential. Social workers are society’s safety net, and with our current economic challenges, this safety net has grown to include and protect a diverse group of people from all walks of life. However, serious safety concerns, significant educational debt, and comparatively insufficient salaries are threatening the ability of our nation’s social workers to provide these indispensable services. The Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act is designed to address these challenges to the profession, thereby helping to ensure that millions of individuals, families, and communities throughout the nation can continue to receive competent care. This legislation will create the foundation for a professional workforce to meet the ever-increasing demand for the essential services that social workers provide. Professional social workers have the unique expertise and experience that will enable them to help solve the social and economic challenges that our nation is facing.

Support the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act today! To learn more about this important legislation, click here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Need Advice? Try Helium, Associated Content

Summer is just around the corner (including Father's Day)! Graduate applications are behind me, and I am looking forward to starting at the University of Michigan this fall. If you are interested in applying to graduate school, but are unsure of why you should pursue an advanced degree, read content review sites such as Helium and Associated Content. Readers across the world post their input (with examples and explanations) on why you should pursue an advanced degree (master's, doctoral, etc.). The quick access to such a variety of advices and perspectives really helped me narrow down my academic and professional interests. You may discover that your fears and concerns about the admissions process are very minor.

Monday, June 8, 2009

U.S. News: 15 Habits of Top College Students

U.S. News and World Report has another article about fifteen habits that make top college students successful in their academics. Although this list is geared more towards high school and current undergraduate students, I believe this advice also applies to prospective and current graduate students. If you're wondering how to get back into school mode, check out the 15 traits. Overall, every graduate student should have good time management and organizational skills. Focus on the end goal (graduate degree) and look out for yourself (this includes emotional and physical well-being).

Also check out these excellent articles below:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Common Careers among INFPs

(Note: The professions in bold are my professional interests.)

Most Common Careers among INFPs are the following:

  • Activist
  • Actor
  • Architect
  • Artist
  • Church Worker
  • Counselor
  • Editor
  • Educational Consultant
  • Employee Development Specialist
  • Fashion Designer
  • Filmmaker
  • Graphic/Web Designer
  • Holistic Health Practitioner
  • Human Resources
  • Journalist
  • Legal Mediator
  • Librarian
  • Massage Therapist
  • Minister
  • Missionary
  • Musician
  • Photographer
  • Physical Therapist
  • Psychologist/Counselor
  • Researcher
  • Social Scientist
  • Social Worker
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Teacher/Professor
  • Translator/Interpreter
  • Video Editor
  • Writer

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Education Page on All My

All My Faves has created an Education page that is very convenient for college students and teachers. It links popular sites in categories such as Travel, Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Computers, and much more. Teachers would definitely like the sections on Special Needs, Writing Skills, and Teaching. If you are ever in a hurry and need information, check out All My Faves. I highly recommend bookmarking this site. I posted a screen shot below.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

U.S. News: 17 Ways College Campuses Are Changing

U.S. News and World Report posted an article on the seventeen ways college campuses are changing now since ten years ago. I thought it was a fantastic article about the transition many campuses are pursuing to better accomodate college students and their parents.

Colleges have become more expensive, more technological, more consumer-oriented, and more diverse among race, gender, and class. Click on the link above.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Transition to Graduate School

Now I must face the next important task: the transition to graduate school. How are college and graduate school different? What do I need to know now to prepare myself for classes this fall?

Don't panic! It's normal to be confused and nervous, especially if you're moving to another state, time zone, and even country! I have made a list of things every incoming student should know:

1. Understand the Weather
It's very important to understand the climate of your future university. Michigan, for example, has continental humid weather. The summers are milder than other regions, but the winters can be very cold and icy. Temperatures can easily fluctuate throughout the week. Buy clothes for all four seasons or wherever you will attend school.

2. Start Looking for Housing
Once you are officially admitted, you should start searching for housing options NOW. Do you want to live on-campus or off-campus? Do plenty of research so that you are happy with your available choices. Be ahead of the pack so that you can secure a security deposit in the best neighborhood. Visit the housing complexes and properties, if possible. Do not wait until July to find a place. Housing becomes very limited the closer to school orientation.

3. Research Transportation Options
Learn the geography of your future university. This will be your home for 2 to 6 years. Is the school location urban, suburban, or rural? Do most people take the bus/subway or bring their own cars? Make sure to inspect your vehicle for repairs. This is especially true in the Midwest and Northeast where weather can be very harsh on older cars. I would also recommend a ZipCar account in case you do not have a car. Many college campuses in major cities have membership discounts with ZipCar. I used it when I was an undergraduate, and loved the quality and convenient service.

The Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan has an excellent video about this the transition for incoming U-M graduate students. It contains a panel of current graduate students and their perspective about the process.

Transitioning to Graduate School from Rackham Graduate School on Vimeo.

Whatever you take from this post, you should be prepared for what lies ahead. I also recommend these links for more information about the transition:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

U.S. News Best Careers 2009

U.S. News and World Report released their 30 Best Careers for 2009. An MSW and/or MSI degree can be very useful in the highlighted careers below.

  • Biomedical equipment technician
  • Clergy
  • Curriculum/training specialist
  • Engineer
  • Firefighter
  • Fundraiser
  • Genetic counselor
  • Ghostwriter
  • Government manager
  • Hairstylist/Cosmetologist
  • Health policy specialist
  • Higher education administrator
  • Landscape architect
  • Librarian
  • Locksmith/Security system technician
  • Management consultant
  • Mediator
  • Occupational therapist
  • Optometrist
  • Pharmacist
  • Physical therapist
  • Physician assistant
  • Politician/Elected official
  • Registered nurse
  • School psychologist
  • Systems analyst
  • Urban planner
  • Usability/User experience specialist
  • Veterinarian

The MSW and MSI degrees offer lots of flexibility for many different career paths. Many social workers and librarians are realizing that they can use their skills in non-traditional fields, such as policy, fundraising, and user experience.

Officially a U-M Graduate Student

I finally paid my $200 enrollment deposit to the University of Michigan. I am officially an U-M graduate student. I'm currently waiting to hear back on the status of my financial aid awards. I am also preparing for the transition from employee to student life. I will have to move to an apartment in Ann Arbor this summer. My search for housing continues!

I was also accepted to the MSW program at Washington University in St. Louis. They have one of the best social work programs in the country. As a private institution, the cost of attendance would have been over $40,000 a year. The school gave me an $8,000 scholarship for two years, but I would have to come up with an additional $40,000 (most likely in loans).

Although University of Michigan is a public university, it can be an expensive place to pursue a graduate degree. For my degree program, an in-state student estimated cost of attendance is about $34,000. An out-of-state student will expect to come up with $52,000. A U-M education for many non-Michigan residents is similar to paying tuition at private universities!

I will write more about the transition process later this month and throughout the summer.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Personality Test Results: INFP

My personality test results reveal I am an INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving). This is based upon the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

INFPs generally have the following traits:

* Strong value systems
* Warmly interested in people
* Service-oriented, usually putting the needs of others above their own
* Loyal and devoted to people and causes
* Future-oriented
* Growth-oriented; always want to be growing in a positive direction
* Creative and inspirational
* Flexible and laid-back, unless a ruling principle is violated
* Sensitive and complex
* Dislike dealing with details and routine work
* Original and individualistic - "out of the mainstream"
* Excellent written communication skills
* Prefer to work alone, and may have problems working on teams
* Value deep and authentic relationships
* Want to be seen and appreciated for who they are

What is your personality type?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Should Michigan become a Private University? has a newspaper article about flagship public universities, with special reference to U-M. The emerging question is should these state universities should become private under this struggling economy. After all, most operate as quasi-public institutions as funding from their state governments continues to diminishes each year.
Michigan's long-serving 19th-century president James Angell used to say that the school provided "an uncommon education for the common man." But many are starting to wonder if that mission is still possible. And Michigan is not the only public university in crisis. As states across the country face budget shortfalls, leading schools like the universities of Wisconsin, North Carolina and Virginia increasingly depend on support from outside their home states, either in the form of philanthropy or in top tuition rates paid by a growing number of wealthy out-of-state students. The result has already been a quasi-privatization of some of the nation's top research institutions and the economic stratification of their student bodies.

And the U-M President, Mary Sue Coleman, commented below that most admissions applications come from outside the state of Michigan.
As schools like Michigan struggle to make up falling state contributions, however, fewer students like Stadt are getting slots in entering classes. Out-of-state students pay $33,000 in tuition at Michigan — nearly three times the amount that residents bring in — and those extra dollars are needed more than ever. Non-residents now make up 37% of undergraduates at the university; add graduate students and nearly half the university's students comes from out-of-state. A leading public university like University of California at Berkeley, by contrast, only pulls 8% of its undergraduates from outside California.

You can also read more about this in the U-M President's address, "Why U-M Must Stay a Public Institution."

Do you think University of Michigan should become private?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Best Graduate Admissions Books

The admissions process is over, and I got into my first-choice social work program. However, I would have not achieved my results if I did not use graduate admissions books. Once I gathered all my materials, I read chapters explaining what I should and should not do. I also had several people to proofread my documents.

I applied late in the graduate admissions process, so I didn't want to spend too much money. If you want to save costs, get the best bargain books. They provide step-by-step information on how to write personal statements, contact professors for letters of recommendation, and much more.

I would recommend the following books below:
I also like personality assessment tests. These tools reveal several potential careers that best fit your values. You can use the results to search graduate and professional programs. They only serve as guides; you must pick which field truly matches your interests.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NYTimes: Work-Study - They'll Work for Education

There is a New York Times article about the future of federal work-study. University of Michigan is also referenced. I depended on federal work-study and campus employment when I was in college. I come from a middle-class background, and I needed the money to buy groceries, pay bills, and eat out with friends. I hope to receive similar financial aid when I start graduate school. Getting paid to go to school is an excellent deal. I don't think too many families will deny it this year.

Monday, April 27, 2009

NYTimes: In Grim Job Market, Student Loans Are a Costly Burden

The New York Times has a very informative article (April 18, 2009) about the costly burden of student loans.

They bought into the notion that if they went to college — never mind the debt — their degree would lead to a lucrative job. And repaying their student loans would never be a problem.

But the economic crisis has turned those assumptions on their ear as thousands of recent graduates have been unable to find jobs or are earning too little to cover the payments for loans that are sometimes as high as $50,000.

The result has been rising default rates for student loans. And unlike other debts, student loans cannot easily be renegotiated.

Almost every college graduate will have some form of student loan debt in their lifetime. If you don't believe me, here are the statistics. How has student loan debt impacted your life?

2010 U.S. News and World Report Graduate School Rankings

The 2010 U.S. News and World Report Graduate School Rankings are finally online and available for purchase.

University of Michigan School of Social Work is ranked #2.

University of Michigan School of Information is ranked #5. Its subfields are #2 for Information Systems, #2 for Archives and Preservation, and #4 for Digital Librarianship.

University of Michigan is ranked #2 for Social Policy under Public Affairs.

University of Michigan is ranked #5 for Non-Profit under Business.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Admitted into Graduate School!

I realized in late February I wanted to attend graduate school this upcoming fall. I was employed in a office position at the time, but I knew my situation wouldn't improve financially unless I return to school and get my master's degree. My vacation time was over. I was now ready to become a graduate student.

I quickly gathered my materials and contacted my former college professors. I submitted my FAFSA and GRE scores. I knew I could not meet the priority deadlines for first consideration of scholarships. I didn't care about that. I funded my entire undergraduate education with loans, work-study, and scholarships. I had to become a graduate student. God would take care of my financial aid situation.

Here are my admissions results (via e-mail):

  • 04/12/09: University of Michigan MSW (Accepted)
  • 04/16/09: University of Michigan MSI (Accepted)
  • 04/17/09: Columbia University MSW (Rejected)
  • 05/07/09: Washington University in St. Louis MSW (Accepted)

I celebrated the news with my family and friends. Columbia and WUSTL were my safety net schools in case I did not receive admission to the University of Michigan. I am not surprised about my rejection from Columbia. Both schools have excellent social work programs, but I did not want to live in those cities. Michigan offered the best fit for my overall academic and social needs.

I won't learn about my financial aid information until mid-May. Nevertheless, I am very pleased with the admissions results because I am now an incoming dual-degree graduate student at the University of Michigan! Go Blue!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

PBS Video: More Young People Applying to Graduate School

PBS Newshour recently reported a special news coverage on more young people applying to graduate school this year (April 6). The national economy has been so bad that college graduates are facing a tighter job market. Current companies continue to shed thousands of jobs. Many students believe if they can ride out the economy, their employment prospects would improve too. You can watch the six-minute clip below.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Hello visitors! Welcome to my new blog about graduate student life at the University of Michigan!

A brief biography about myself:
After receiving my bachelor's degree in education and social policy from Northwestern University, I took a break from school to explore other interests. My hobbies are listening to music, reading novels, traveling, volunteering, exercising, graphic design, and blogging! I have traveled extensively across the Upper Midwest and East Coast. I love playing tennis and volleyball. Overall, I am a funny, smart, and creative person who likes to explore the unknown.

The University of Michigan goes by many monikers:
U-M, U of M, Michigan. Its mascot is the Wolverines, and its school colors are maize and blue. It was founded in 1817, and is considered one of the original Public Ivys. More than 70% of the university's departments, programs, and institutes are ranked in the top ten in the nation. Located on the Huron River in the city of Ann Arbor, the flagship campus has one of the largest number of living alumni in the world.