Answer: How Do I Save Money on Textbooks?

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Textbooks are EXTREMELY expensive.

(not just the ones pictured here, ALL OF THEM – these may even be some of the cheaper ones…)

All y’all in college know this. All of you graduate students who went to college also know this.

Still, upon starting graduate school and coming to terms with being broke as f*$%, I was SHOCKED at how much my textbooks cost. In college I could sometimes get away with not buying the book, especially since I was taking some gen eds for which I would never again need to reference the book (exploring the cosmos, college 101, world literature, christian tradition).

Graduate school was a different story. I absolutely needed the books considering the vast majority of assignments ARE readings. I knew I would probably return to some of the books for reference through graduate school and beyond. But STILL. I could not justify spending a twelfth of my yearly salary (yeah, you read that right – BALLINNNN$$$$$$$$) each semester on books.

This image of textbooks for sale is frightening enough to give me heart palpitations:

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So here’s my advice:

STOP buying your textbooks.

I’ll go even further: STOP PAYING FOR RENTALS!!!

 

“Uh – okay, so what now?”

I was right there with you just a few years back! Fortuitously, I was reminded of an important, yet until now mostly ignored, piece of advice I was given from my undergraduate advisor, “I don’t buy books from Amazon or Barnes and Noble until I’ve borrowed them from the library and know I want to own them.”

“Well, duh…”

“Okay, I just checked. My library doesn’t have a copy of the textbook on hand, so I guess I’ll stay in this long ass line waiting to pick up the textbooks I ordered…”

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WAIT! Not so fast – allow me to elaborate:

 

My undergraduate institution was small (but powerful!). We didn’t have an immense library (especially in eccentric topics like history of psychology, relationship science, and neuropsychology of emotions). So many times, my ever-wise professor would receive a book recommendation, or come across a needed text in a reference section, and our humble library would fall short.

JK JK! The library is a nearly ancient institution – it would not leave its knowledge-hungry members without a resource they needed!

Answer: The Interlibrary Loan Program!

Most universities (including very small liberal arts places like my alma mater) have an interlibrary loan delivery program in place. This process allows libraries within a library network to SHARE access to resources they have.

“I already use this system to gain access to articles that my library doesn’t have. I’M TALKING ABOUT TEXTBOOKS!!!!”

Yes! You’re right! Many ILL programs use this same process to exchange articles that students and faculty need. Back when this program started (the first one started in 1894… WHOAAAA), everything was done BY HAND, THROUGH THE MAIL.

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Can you imagine that process? THE HEADACHE?

  1. Find an article in a book/article on paper.
  2. Visit your library in person just to find that they do not have the article you need.
  3. Request (BY HAND) the article
  4. Librarians work tirelessly filling out paper request forms and sending them TO YOUR AUTHOR, IN THE MAIL.
  5. Authors work to process the requests (or maybe the publishers handled this?? I don’t know)
  6. EVENTUALLY your copy of the article is MAILED back to you.
  7. MANY DAYS/WEEKS?/MONTHS? LATER YOU RECEIVE YOUR ARTICLE.

WHAT IF YOU RECEIVED THE ARTICLE AND AFTER READING THE METHODS REALIZE IT IS NOT EVEN RELEVANT FOR YOUR PAPER? I’m sorry, but f*&# that.

SERIOUS kudos to all y’all that earned graduate degrees pre-internet.

And now we just type a few words into our search bars and if we’re on campus we can usually grab a copy. If not, the librarians electronically request the article and often times I receive my electronic copy in a matter of HOURS.

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Back to my imaginary conversation with you, dear reader:

I’m talking about textbooks too!!

You can use the same interlibrary loan request process to request BOOKS, including TEXTBOOKS!

So, stop spending all your hard-earned money buying textbooks (unless you have already borrowed them and know you want to own a copy, then spend dat $$$) and use your library’s resources! Go find a friendly librarian and they can help you navigate your own university’s interlibrary loan system.

Keep grindin’ & #SAVEDATMONEY!

-J

P.S. Planning on trying ILL for the first time? Comment below and share your experience? Let’s see who can save the most money… AND GO!

P.P.S. Here are some YouTube links on using interlibrary loan:

 

Want to Tackle Your Writing Routine? Understand Your Tendency

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How do I get better at writing?

I think this may be one of the few questions that plagues EVERY graduate student (and even you high achieving undergrads and post-bacs, in preparation for grad school).

Regardless of area of expertise or specific grad school structure or requirements, nearly all of us have to tackle an extremely difficult task: WRITING OUR THESIS/DISSERTATION (capstone project, honor’s thesis, first author publication, etc.).

And just like many of you out there, I have REALLY struggled with writing. And I’m here to let you in on one of my biggest writing tips:

 

KNOW YOUR TENDENCY AND APPLY IT TO YOUR WRITING HABITS.

 

What tendency am I talking about? Where you fall within Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework.

Before diving into this framework, let me demonstrate where I was at before harnessing my tendency to improve writing habits:

It seems like there’s a good reason pop culture depicts professional writers as brooding, dark, home-dwelling, robe-donning vampire souls… WRITING SUCKS THE LIFE OUT OF YOU.

Writing can be especially plaguing on those days when you’re coming up with elaborate schemes to plan, brainstorm, procrastinate, or ultimately avoid the writing. I have had countless “writing sessions” spent vacillating between googling “how to start writing a manuscript” and in a panic, convinced I was admitted to grad school by mistake.

I have often even fantasized about standing on a library table to scream out, “WHY IS WRITING SO HARD???!!!!” Yup. Tantrumming just like a toddler.

It’s not like I didn’t understand the steps to take. Yes, I took an undergrad class that taught us the structure of a manuscript and how to write it. Yes, I took the stats classes that taught me how to describe my results. YES I HAVE READ HUNDREDS OF EMPIRICAL ARTICLES AND UNDERSTAND HOW AN ARTICLE IS SUPPOSED TO FLOW. But all of this “knowledge” didn’t seem to improve my writing.

What I didn’t understand: my habits/patterns and strategies to change them.

My problems included:

  1. I. COULD. NOT. GET. STARTED. It seemed like an endless ascension JUST GETTING STARTED. A LOT of the time I got stuck here. I’d spend hours at the library, without writing a single word.
  2. I felt like I didn’t have time to write. Since it seemed to take me HOURS and HOURS to write a damn paragraph, I felt like I did not have the time. I tried the whole “schedule writing time” tip, but that didn’t work AT ALL for me (add in the tendency and this makes sense)
  3. No matter how often people (including myself) told me “you have to write,” I could not make it happen. It felt like I was on a mission to do the opposite of what I needed to succeed.
  4. The goal of “finishing a manuscript” was too vague, broad, and unfathomable. I was staring at one paragraph in word, attempting to imagine myself publishing this idea of a paper “some time” down the road.
  5. Nothing catastrophic happened when I didn’t write. As I’m still learning, graduate school is flexible and encourages autonomy (which I LOVE – add the tendency insights below and this makes a lot of sense). But it also requires a lot self-discipline, and good habits (which I HATE, again – makes sense considering this tendency stuff). Unlike my undergrad days when I knew a caring professor would consult me if I was behind on something (ahhhh… Loma), literally NO ONE freaked out when I was behind on writing. If I was meeting my bare deadlines, staying up on most things, I could get away with a lot of not writing.

Since writing has proven to be a distinct pain in the ass for me the past four + years, I’ve always been on the hunt for strategies to help with the problems above.

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Fast forward to Fall 2015 (the start of my second year in graduate school): I was introduced to “The Four Tendencies” framework by science writer and podcaster, Gretchen Rubin.

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I’m going to do a more in-depth review of her book on this framework (The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) later this month, so stay tuned for more on this.

In short, her framework explains the four different patterns in which people respond to expectations. In our lives, we face both inner and outer expectations. Inner expectations are those that we expect of ourselves (e.g., “I want to eat healthier,” “I want to meditate,” “I want to publish a manuscript this semester”). Outer expectations make up the things that others expect of us (e.g., “This assignment is due the Monday of finals week at 4pm,” “Thanks for agreeing to pick up dinner tonight – see you at 7!” or “I need a full draft of your introduction by next Friday”).

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There are four possible combinations of how a person could respond to (meet or resist) to inner versus outer expectations. Here they are:

  1. The Upholder: Readily meets both inner AND outer expectations
  2. The Obliger: Struggles to meet inner expectations, but readily meets outer expectations
  3. The Questioner: Easily meets inner expectations, but resists outer expectations
  4. The Rebel: Struggles to meet both inner AND outer expectations alike

Seems simple, right? It IS. But that’s the beauty of this framework.

Graduate school is chock full of both inner and outer expectations. Each tendency comes with both strengths and weaknesses (I’ll cover this in my post on the book). And I’m telling you: knowing yours can SUBSTANTIALLY improve your writing habits (and really any other habit you’re trying to tackle).

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Here are a few writing strategies for each tendency:

Upholders: Set a deadline for yourself or utilize your mentor’s deadline. You will make the deadline. You always do. BUT – protect and prioritize your writing time. You know better than anyone else that if you agree to do something, you WILL. So, be sure you’re not over-promising yourself or others in other areas of expectation. Say no to a few things to make sure you can say yes to writing.

Obligers: Create external accountability. “Huh?” What I mean is: structure “your” writing goal/habits in a way that makes you accountable to others in the process. Example: join a writing group/partner and agree to send ___ number of pages/words to them each week. This accountability will drive you to accomplish your goals. Also, create deadlines with your advisor and ask them to hold you accountable to the deadlines.

Questioners: Create your own writing deadline and goals, breaking them down into achievable steps, and continuously revisit your motivation for writing. Questioners often thrive when they understand why they need to do something.

Rebels: This is so tough (I’m a rebel, so I feel you rebels out there). Rebels are driven by values, often by knowing the consequences, but usually only want to do things when they “feel” like doing it (which never happens with writing, but more on that later). Take some time to sit down and reflect on why you are going to write. Try to think about how writing reflects your values as a graduate student (e.g., “I value flexibility – I want to publish ___# of manuscripts to allow maximum flexibility in career choice;” “I value exploration – I want to finish my dissertation before internship so I can enjoy the new city I’ll be living in,” “I value personal responsibility and dependability – I see myself as someone who follows through on their word”). And then just write.

How did harnessing my “rebel” tendency help my writing habits?

  1. Now I know that I naturally resist ANY expectation outright (this includes scheduling, accountability groups, telling myself I need to write, others telling me I need to write).
  2. This knowledge (though seemingly dreary) helped me to stop wasting time on strategies that work for most people (asking people to hold me accountable, setting deadlines, scheduling writing periods in my google calendar). I finally understood why I was running into such hurdles anytime I tried these strategies. MORE accountability = LESS follow-through with rebels.
  3. Instead, I focused on my values daily, worked in flexibility whenever I could (in the morning, creating my schedule for the day so it felt like I was “choosing” what to do instead of planning ahead of time), and reminded myself that I was NOT the kind of graduate student that has to delay a year because I was behind on writing.
  4. I informed my advisor of my tendency (he’s also a rebel, which makes for some interesting productivity patterns), which helped us to brainstorm together ways to increase my writing.

There is SO MUCH out there about these tendencies, so I encourage you to explore more. As you become more familiar with them, you may even recognize the tendencies of your mentor and professors, which can be SO helpful in understanding what they expect from you.

So – what are you waiting for? Go take the quiz here!

And be on the lookout for my post on the Four Tendencies book, where I’ll share more about how this framework can help you in your own Grad School Grind!

Hang in there, friends!

-J

 

Internship applications?… WHAT ARE THOSE?!

Internship applications?

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Dissertation proposal?

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FIFTH YEAR?

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Okay, you get it. It’s a scary time for me. But let’s get down to it!

 

What is internship anyway??

Well, the answer’s a bit more complicated than you would think but my typical clinical psychologist answer still applies – “IT DEPENDS!”

The term “internship” is used to describe a lot of different things. Broadly, an “intern” is a trainee, or someone working to get more experience.

  1. Internship can mean doing unpaid work for a company/facility in order to get your foot in the door there or gain experience in a particular field. (This can be done in high school, college, or really anytime).
  2. Internship can also mean doing paid work for the same purposes. Often when I hear college students seeking internships, this is what they are talking about – getting hired at an entry rate in order to gain experiences which may translate later into a job.
  3. Clinical Psychology Pre-Doctoral Internship: Now that I have defined the two versions above, I don’t understand why the FINAL stage (well… not really final, but we’ll save that for another day) of doctoral training in Clinical Psychology is called an internship… (Now I understand why my family and friends seem so confused as to why I am applying to internship positions when I am supposed to be finishing graduate school… *insert face slap emoji here*)REGARDLESS, it is called that. And here is what this internship means for me:
    1. It is the final year of my graduate training (as long as I match, but more on that later…)
    2. It is almost completely focused on advanced clinical training (e.g., working directly with clients)
    3. It will occur in a completely different facility with completely different faculty/advisors and likely in a completely different city and state than my current grad school location.
    4. It IS paid (hallelujah).
    5. It entails an extremely extensive application, interview, and structured matching process (more on that later…)
    6. It is my final milestone to meet before I am awarded my Ph.D.

So why is this done in clinical psychology? Well, many of you are likely a little more familiar with medical school. You know how med students attend a residency at a hospital near the end of their training? This is our residency (again, I don’t know why we didn’t just use that less-confusing terminology). This process basically allows new, certified, less-familiar-with-me professionals to see me doing clinical work, help me gain skills in the areas I am weakest, and vouch that I am ready and qualified enough to go out in the world and practice!

What else is important to know? I’m starting this process SOON. Like, kind of starting it all now – browsing sites, clarifying my goals and training needs, starting application materials, alllllllll while trying to propose my dissertation on time, publish a few manuscripts, finish up incomplete coursework, and try to get a full night of sleep most nights WITHOUT LOSING MY SANITY.

After all, the way this all works is: I need to propose my dissertation in order to apply to internship. If this doesn’t happen, I don’t get to apply and thus, one more year in the grad school grind and plan to apply next year. If I SUCCEED and propose my dissertation!! and apply to internship!!… there’s still a chance I could fail to match for an internship site…. and then I’d stay another year in PhD-less land….

Apply to grad school, they said… it will be fun, they said…

Mostly jokes – I’m pretty sure I can do this. See you all soon for more updates on the grad school grind! Thanks for visiting and be sure to leave a comment. I’d love to hear who is reading this chaotic chronicle and also love to answer any questions!

 

Keep grindin!

-J