5 Things You NEED To Know Before Grad School

Good Monday Morning Friends!

Are you on your way to work? At work? Just home from work?

I’m sitting in my apartment, sippin hot tea and catching up on Survivor and Vampire Diaries. I think you can tell a lot about a person by the television shows they choose to watch. I like to think mine say something like, “I walk on the edge” or “I laugh in the face of danger!” Meh, more likely “I watch dangerous and adventurous shows because I prefer to stay in bed and read a book.”


Can I have your attention for a minute? I graduated with my Master’s degree last May. In case you hadn’t heard….

Yeesh, how did this happen? Where did the time go? How did I survive? And why am I still not impressed?

Anyone tired of hearing about it yet? Well then what the heck you doin on a blog written by a girl who just graduated with her Master’s degree!?!

We’ll forget about that last question, however, because I’m a giver and I like you. I’m gonna let you in on a few things you should know before Grad School if you so choose to torture yourself.

Thinking about going to Graduate School? here's 5 things you NEED to know before you even apply!

Grad School Applications are circulating right about now and I’ve seen a few of y’all are caught up in their midst.

Well don’t worry, I’ve been there, done that and I learned a thing or two along the way.

Not everyone’s journey will look the same of course, the way I got there won’t be the exact way you’ll get there, but there are some basic things you can do to hopefully make your grad school life a little bit more bearable.

So let’s get started!

#1 Find Someone To Pay For It

This was the single best advice anyone every gave me before I went back to school. Still being drowned by undergrad loans, the thought of increasing that sea of debt wasn’t exactly as high on my list as pursuing higher education. So if there’s one thing I say that you listen to, let it be this, FIND SOMEONE TO PAY FOR YOUR GRAD DEGREE!!!

It’s not as hard, and yet just as hard as it sounds. Find an Assistantship in your program. TA, RA, GA, doesn’t matter, but find and apply for them early. Next, find any assistantships even remotely related to your program. For example, my degree Kinesiology & Health Promotion meant I applied for everything under wellness; fitness, nutrition, research studies, any TA position in KHP, and HR. The positions are out there if only you put in the effort to find them.

University of Kentucky gave the sweet, sweet deal of not only paying my tuition, but also giving me a small, but liveable, stipend during the 9 months of each academic year.

If I can do it, you can do it!

I also suggest looking into PT jobs to supplement your income if you’re not already working as you go through school.

#2 Know Your Loans 

Now that you’ve got someone else to pay for your graduate degree, make sure you’ve taken care of your undergraduate loans (if you don’t have them skip to #3 you lucky B)

Mine was the simple process of having UK fill out my deferment paperwork and sending it off to the loan people. However, know the lingo in your loan agreement and whether you need to be a full-time student or not. They tricked me my last semester when I dropped down to half-time, so don’t make that mistake. You’re still poor and can’t afford the payments.

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#3 Craigslist Isn’t So Scary.

If you’re like me and went to school out of state where you don’t know a single soul but also can’t afford rent on your own, Craigslist is your best friend and your frenemy. Some schools have a roommate seeking type website but if it’s anything like UK’s then it blows and won’t be helpful in the slightest.

A few tips to make sure you don’t land yourself your very own Dexter for a roommate.

  • Make sure to get a tour of the place if you can.
  • Don’t sign anything until you’re in person.
  • Deal with the Landlord over the potential roommate whenever possible.
  • Meet-up in person, friend on facebook, whatever you can to vet this person a little bit and them you.
  • Ask for references. I never did this but not a bad idea.

I was always out-of-state right up until I needed a place (think MA to KY) so I had to make-do with photos. I did get burned this past Fall and ended up being homeless for a few weeks. I don’t recommend that…..

So start looking in advance, ask all the questions, and don’t be afraid to speak up!

Also after your first year, you’ll know people and can potentially live with them the following year.

#4 Network Before You Get There

Now this is a big one!

Shoot an email to your advisor asking to get in touch with current students in your program. Talk to them, see what it’s really like.

They can sometimes help you with finding housing as well. Better still, they’ll give you the layout of the land and city!

Assuming they’re nice like me anyway. Whenever my advisor sent my email addresses of potential students I always responded. When I was that potential student I didn’t get the same response though.

So note for when you’re in the program, be nice and helpful to the newbs!

#5 It’s MUCH Harder Than Undergrad

Seriously….And this is coming from someone who has never had to try in school before. Not humble bragging here, just letting you know what you’re signing up for. Of course it depends on the program, mine was writing and project heavy with very little testing. No matter what though, it will be tougher than you’ve ever dealt with before so now is the time to mentally prepare yourself.

On the bright side, grades don’t really matter as much in Grad School unless you have a professor with a stick up their butt.

Perhaps if you plan on continuing for you PhD, but even then your thesis and networking is more important than what grade you got in Grad level statistics….

So anyone considering grad school in their future?

What about applying right now?

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Why Your Master’s Degree Doesn’t Impress Me

Guy’s I’m comin at ya today. I was gonna write about Camp, but it got all rained out yesterday and my photos didn’t turn out the way I wanted so instead you get the following…..

I realize I just spent two very intense years of my life getting a Master’s Degree at a top college in the country. Basically, that’s exactly what qualifies me to write this post. (I got my degree in Health Promotion, which if you’d like to know more you can click here.)

This post is completely inspired by the many, many comments I get on my Quest bars post from months ago…Months ago and I still get comments. Namely, many commenters like to point out that they have a Master’s degree in the health and fitness field. Congrats! That’s not an easy accomplishment! But I’m still not impressed.

Masters Degree Doesn't Impress

See I also possess a Master’s degree in the health and fitness field, and *gasp* still have a different opinion than you. That’s the beauty of opinions, they’re like buttholes, everyone has one and they’re mostly full of sh*t. Too vulgar?

Not trying to take away anything from your, clearly superior, education over mine, but I went to school with many an…how do I put this gently…..idiot. Yes I said it, you can have a Master’s degree and still be an idiot. Maybe you think I’m an idiot, that’s fine, at least we can mutually agree on something.

Higher education is awesome, grand even. It’ll land you a job over someone with only a Bachelor’s degree and it’s fancy when you frame it in your office. Parents also like to use it to brag to their friends and lord it over your aunts and uncles that their kid is smarter than theirs. But, com’on, education is over-rated.

Let me say it again. Education is over-rated. 

And this is coming from the Queen of education. I love school, I love learning, I love everything about it. But your education is over-rated if you can’t understand that an opinion is not a fact. Just becasue someone state their opinion in a public forum doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. And just becasue you disagree doesn’t make that person dumb, stupid, fat, ugly, or any other mean words you wanna throw at them.

Your education doesn’t give you the right to call anyone stupid for sharing their opinions with the world. And It certainly doesn’t give you the right to publically attack someone from behind a computer screen. Sorry bro, but your Master’s degree just isn’t that impressive.

It’s actually an embarrassment that you even behave in such as way after spending so many years “educating” yourself. I kinda feel like Shania Twain having to tell guys that their cars, jelled back hair, and shiny shoes just don’t impress me much. Let’s just add higher education and superiority complex to the list, shall we?

So here’s to those that don’t have a Master’s degree, but make up for it with being kind. Or to all those that worked hard for a Master’s degree and still managed to retain their sense of human decency. I shouldn’t judge, maybe part of your curriculum was How To Be a Dick 101, in which case, you nailed it. A+

Really though, am I just being too sensitive? For the most part I get a good chuckle from the mean backlash. I don’t take it personally. I don’t feel attacked. I don’t even get mad despite the tone of this post. Sometimes my feelings get hurt. Sometimes it’s harder to shrug off. Sometimes I do wonder if my opinion is that outrageous.

And then I remember that an opinion isn’t something to feel bad about or apologize for. Unless of course you don’t like ice cream in which case you’re just dead wrong and we will fight to the cyber death. I guess I just don’t understand the mentality of saying such hateful things to a complete stranger over a dumb opinion on a power bar….a power bar people. A power bar…

What’re your feelings on the subject? Am I being too harsh? Got a Bee in my Bonnet? Agree, disagree, think I really am an idiot? All opinions are welcome because I’m an enlightened person like that. 😉

But seriously, what do you think?

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Graduate Class of ’15

Whew, we made it.

Or rather I made it, as I don’t know if the person reading this right now is also graduating this weekend.

If you are, here’s an internet high five!

If you’re not, here’s an internet hug, because that’s what friends do when they’re excited about something.

I just wanted to pop on in today to share my graduation announcement.

Grad announcement

If this offends you that you didn’t get one in the mail, simply print the above photo out and mail to yourself. You can even pretend I sent it, it won’t creep me out that much 😉

Also if anyone can spot the irony in this announcement please let me know in the comments. I’ll give you a hint, this photo was taken in Knoxville.

Have a Happy Weekend friends! The next time you see me, I’ll be a two-time graduate feeling pretty bad-ass with my Master’s Degree in tow.

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What is Health Promotion?

I’ve been talking about Graduation for what seems like months now. What I hardly talk about, however, is what I’m actually graduating in.

I bet if I polled all my readers right this second, only my Mother would know. My own Father even forgets half the time (Hi Dad!) lol. So I thought with graduation looming (can it be Saturday already?) this would be the perfect time to clear a few things up.

I’m getting my Master’s in Kinesiology and Health Promotion

what is Health Promotion

So what is Health Promotion anyway?

I’m glad you asked. This was actually one of my exit exam questions so I’ve got the perfect elevator pitch about it….it goes as follows:

Health Promotion is an all-encompassing approach to improving the health of individuals, groups, and communities through a variety of strategies including health education, policy change, advocating, collaboration, serving as a resource, improving environment, access to care, health literacy, and a number of others.

Sounds pretty good right? But that’s still kind of a confusing definition for some, so let me elaborate a bit more.

Health Promotion is about empowering individuals, groups, and communities to take control of their health and make healthy decisions and for healthy habits to improve all spheres of their wellness including physical, mental/intellectual, spiritual, social, environmental, and emotional wellness.

Let me give you a few guidelines as well. Healthy People 2020 is a science-based set of goals built around improving the health of the nation. It launched in 2010 with a decade long agenda for accomplishing just that. It’s mission is to create a “society in which all people live long, healthy lives.”

It’s four Overarching Goals include:

  • Attain high-quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death
  • Achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups (race, gender, age, etc)
  • Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all
  • Promote quality of life, healthy development, and health behaviors across all life stages

Ok great. thanks for the mumbo-jumbo, we get it, make people healthy. But it goes to such a deeper level then just telling people to eat their vegetables and exercise more.

Health Promotion also takes into account cultural competence. We take cues from environmental and social structures and build a plan around them. For example, telling someone to go to a Framer’s Market for the food, when there’s none within walking distance and they have no access to a car is kinda pointless and doesn’t help them at all. You have to look at their resources available and work from there. That goes for any health behavior and in any setting.

I personally am more interested in stress management and how that manifests itself into self-care. Aka what nourishes their soul. My ideal job would incorporate personal training, health coaching, nutrition education, and stress management activities. Basically anything that improves self-care and I get to work with people is my dream job.

Where do Health Promotion Specialists work?

There’s many settings in which a Health Promotion Specialist might work. Short answer? Anywhere. Longer list of answers; a school, a University (where I am now), a business or corporation, a non-profit, a government agency, health clinics, hospitals, wellness centers, gyms, etc. Like I said, really anywhere.

My Dad works as an engineer and they have an outside vendor come in to do their Biometric Screenings and follow-up visits. I interned for a private consulting firm in Boston this past summer and their clients came from all the surrounding offices in the South End with Real Estate Firms being their biggest population.

Of course non-profit agencies make a huge chunk of who works in the community wellness sector. This was never really my interest so I won’t pretend to know much about it, other than this group includes Planned Parenthood and Government and State health clinics.


So there ya have it folks, the basic 411 on Health Promotion. Now it’s your turn to ask any questions below in the comments. Or you can always shoot me an email. I never shut-up about this stuff in real life 😀

Got any questions?


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Snickerdoodle Cookies

Hello friends, we meet again.

For anyone inquiring about my presentation Monday night, it went…..well not how I wanted it to, but I’ve written an entire fun post telling the saga that is my failed life so be on the look-out for that pity party. (mostly kidding, it went fairly well, however tears were involved)

But that’s a story for another day, I need a bit of time to transpire before I’m ready to laugh about it just yet.

Today, however, I’ve got a classic cookie recipe for y’all.

Classic for me since it is one of my all-time favorite Boss’s favorite cookie (make sense?). He was technically my Supervisor for about 2 years in Undergrad at the Y and I’ll forever look up to him and the example he set for me. Here’s to you Kev! ❤ your Redneck (affectionally named of course 😉 )

snickerdoodle cookies

I made these cookies so often out in Prove that I actually started making variations of it, like cookie bars, pies, muffins, you name it, I made it Snickerdoodle-y

One day I’ll actually get my act together and photograph and post all these variations but y’all know me well enough to know that won’t be for a good long while. Not when I have lots of deep soul-searching questions to ask, Santa’s to poke fun at and endless attempts at being a “cool kid

snickerdoodle cookies snickerdoodle cookies

Snickerdoodle Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (seriously what is this anyway?)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

To roll dough in

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Beat sugars and butter together, then add in the egg and vanilla until “fluffy.” Finally add in remaining ingredients and combine. Roll into small balls and roll in the cinnamon/sugar mixture until covered. Bake for about 10min on 350. Done!

Not a bad way to spend your undergraduate days right? Eating cookies, learning from the master? All while cracking all the jokes possible and having the best time, duh.

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As you’re reading this I’m headed out of town for my brother’s wedding festivities (#SheronLoungewayWedding2014) Be sure to come back Friday though, this wedding has me in a giving mood….if ya know what I mean 😉

Do you have a certain professor or mentor from undergrad you still keep in touch with?

Better yet, do you know their favorite cookie 😀


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Out Sick

I have to apologize b/c I’m gone MIA yet again, but this time wasn’t even my fault….I also promise that these aren’t just made up excuses but real life tragedies.

I’m sick.

And trust me, trying to take a “cute” photo of being sick isn’t easy…so y’all get a lovely stock photo b/c when my immune system goes whack, my face decides to develop a very large colony of unwelcome guests on it as well….le sigh

sick teddy bear

I hardly ever get sick but this year the little cold bug made his way into my system and set up house for a few days. Usually not such a big deal. Get some extra sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and bada-bing bada-boom, feelin better.

Well not this time. I have zero time to rest to get over it. Finals week is in 2 weeks. Next week however, is my brother’s wedding so I’ll be out of town right up until Finals. That means I have to finish all my projects and papers this week…..wah, wah…

Hence my dilemma, sleep to feel better for the weeding, or don’t sleep and actually pass all my graduate classes. It’s just a Master’s degree it’s not that big a deal anyway right?

Well I decided to go home early yesterday and sleep to my little sick hearts delight in a NyQuil induced coma (6pm till 8am this morning) and am feelin much better today. However, I’ve now got 3 days (fri-sun) to finish a huge presentation, 3 major projects, and a massive paper….no pressure.

I hope y’all enjoy your weekend. I’ll be lost in a haze of schoolwork, tissues, and lots of snack breaks (there always has to be snack breaks)

In order for me to live vicariously through you though, tell me your weekend plans?

Or at the very least, come do my homework for me, would ya?


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That Time I Tried to be Cool

Well it’s finally happened. I finally understand the obsession everyone had with Sex and the City growing up. I haven’t actually watched much of the show yet, I eased in with the Carrie Diaries (totally adorable btw)

Maybe it’s b/c I’m a single woman soon to embark into the wild unknown of the working world or perhaps my growing cynicism towards a happily ever after. Either way I can relate to Carrie going after her dreams and not letting those around her feel bad for what she wants. All while looking fabulous of course, duh.

Well today’s post isn’t about love or being single or going after one’s dreams, although if you stick around for any amount of time you’re bound to find posts on all of the above. Today I’ve got a story for y’all on how I attempted to channel my inner Carrie/Manhattanite and head out for some drinks with friends. (hint; it didn’t go well….)

tall boots in the leaves

I should back up slightly to give this story a bit of triumphant context instead of just tossing you into my utter failure of a social life.

I grew up in a pretty religious home and never even saw a drop of liquor until college. And even that was only one year, then I transferred to a religious college and didn’t see any again until after graduation and a move to Boston. Needless to say, I can never quite seem to find my bearings in situations involving alcohol no matter how “normal” I tell myself it is so I usually chicken out from invitations such as the one I’d been presented with.

BUT this time I decided to be cool and casual and meet up with my friends. I got ready and even put on lipstick….(the alien feeling has slightly worn off Kristen) However, as I alluded to earlier, it didn’t go as planned.

Let’s count the things that went wrong

things went wrong

It involved a bar. Um yea, I’d rather hide under the covers then be standing in a bar feeling like a Mormon out of water. Not to completely alienate myself from my wino friends though (love y’all!), people drinking around me isn’t what makes me uncomfortable. It’s being in places meant to cater to alcoholic beverages.  Like bars. I feel completely, utterly, and entirely out of my element.

It was raining and dark. As I’ve already let the cat out of the bag about how terrible my eyes are and rainy darkness equals not being able to see any of the lines on the road. Anyone with this problem can commiserate with how terrifying that can be….

There was no bar parking. This may not seem like a problem for you city dwellers, but anyone who grew up a Suburbanite knows the value of a parking lot. No need for parallel parking or a change purse full of quarters.

There was a basketball game. Again, maybe not a big deal for normal towns, but I live in Lexington, KY. Home of the UK Wildcats and current all around best college basketball dynasty in the country. To say the entire state of KY comes out for their games is an understatement. There were people EVERYWHERE. sidewalks, crosswalks, All the walks! Not to mention darting out in front of cars (hey no one said UK fans are bright #VFL)

SO defeated and on the verge of a collision with body or car, I went home……

at home reading

So much for my night of coolness. le sigh…I did however end up finishing three knitted headbands so I guess you could say I won in the end anyway 🙂

How was your weekend?

Do any of my irrational fears scare you too? (or am I alone on this one?)


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