Tag Archives: michigan state

Grad School Stuff: The Light at the End of the Tunnel!

Michigan_State_Spartans2For those of you that know me, you’re probably aware that I’m currently sludging my way through grad school. What you may not know, at least if we’re not in constant daily contact, is that if all goes according to plan, I’ll be finishing up my Masters degree at the end of May. Wild right? I can hardly believe it.

I mean where the heck did these two years go? However, before I don my second cap and gown and blow out of East Lansing for parts unknown, there are still a couple of important obstacles I must overcome. Specifically I need to submit a five to seven piece portfolio for review by my graduate committee as well as reflective essay tying the pieces together, and answer two specific committee ok’d questions at 10 pages a pop.

Doesn’t sound too bad right? That’s cause it’s not. At least I don’t think it is. I think I can do this! The beautiful thing about the portfolio review is that it’s already finished. I mean not totally finished, but the component parts are done. I’m thinking about including:

And I’m even looking forward to my reflective essay. It’s going to be fun tying all of these pieces together because very rarely do we get to articulate what our work means to us to an audience that’s willing to listen. Here I can trace a narrative through my time here at MSU and hopefully show my growth as a student, scholar, and writer.

I also turned in six questions to my grad committee, of which they’ll choose three, and I’ll choose two of those to write on. They went a little like this:

  1. Use the work of three rhet/comp scholars, specifically those who do work in digital rhetorics, to articulate one or two potential futures for digital comics.
  2. Choose a particular web comic and using it as an example, explore what digital rhetoric is in light of this web comic. How do the different modes of meaning-making in this web comic (e.g., visuals, audio, interactive experiences) change our understanding of digital rhetoric?
  3. How do technical communicators use comics? What industries utilize comics? What is valuable about comics that is able to translate across industries and disciplines?
  4. Due to the financial disparity between print and webcomics, most webcomic creators can’t afford professional editors to edit their work; thus they rely on family, friends, and fans. How do these non-professionals change what it means to be a comics editor? What sort of tasks do they engage in, what literacies to they bring to the table, and how does the immediacy of the internet and fan culture change the editorial experience?
  5. Editors are tasked with a multitude of duties and employ a variety of skill sets to accomplish their work. How has your own editorial understanding and philosophy grown, changed, or been influenced by experiences in the Writing Center and DRPW coursework?
  6. Look at your AL 805 final project, your Personal History of Rhetoric. AL 805 was the first class you took as a graduate student. In light of that, what have you learned about rhetoric and writing in the following three semesters? Specifically, address the five main points outlined in the Personal History: Questions, self-consciousness, appeal to classmates, an attempt at understanding historical contexts, a connection with comics.

And then I’ve just got to write ten pages on those bad boys and we call it a day! I’m not particularly fond of the third question, but I really like my fifth and sixth questions, and one and two are pretty awesome as well. Best part? I’m nearly ready to answer all of these, right meow!

Basically I just wanted to get all this stuff out into the ether so I can take a look at it. I’ve got some crazy busy weeks ahead of me, a conference to prepare for, big assignments due and everything, but like I said, I got this. Wish me luck folks.

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Post-Grad School Acceptance Stuff pt. 2

Alright, so now that I’m back to making this magic happen we’ve got part dos of Post-Grad School Acceptance Stuff, which just so happens to be the most important stuff of all!

4. A Personal Statement
Man oh man, this was by FAR the most difficult part of the MSU application for me.  Honestly, you really need to put some serious thought into your Personal Statement.  Why?  Because that’s you making your case for why the Graduate Committee should pick you!  In the case of my program, here were the requirements –

“The Graduate Committee wants to know: Why do you want to pursue this degree at MSU? What interests, qualifications, and, most importantly, professional goals of yours will be served by completion of this degree? How do you see the program at MSU specifically helping you to meet those goals?”

Wootah!  It might not sound like too much but my personal statement was 950 words or so and it took me weeks to fine tune into a perfectly tailored testament to my abilities, my conviction, and my dedication.  I’ve got a link to it here –  Personal Statement.  I don’t want to break this thing down too much but definitely take a look at it, it helped me get accepted.

5. At Least Two Writing Samples
The graduate committee was looking for one writing sample, of anything and one example of a single-authored academic style paper.  I had been writing non-stop for Marvel.com as a freelancer so providing one sample, especially one that was actual professional writing was easy.  The academic paper though?  That was FRICKIN hard!  I hadn’t written something scholarly in nearly two years and I knew none of my college papers would
cut it so I had to write something completely new, something completely different.  Luckily, I had something in mind.

I used one of my Unlimited Highlights for the first sample, this blog as the second, and my paper DC Editorial Research Paper as the third.  I wrote the research paper on my own and honestly, I think it’s crap.  I think the ideas are rock solid but I forgot how to write a research paper.   I spent a lot of time underground in the MSU Special Collections looking at old issues of Superman and other DC comics so if anyone cares, I think I’m going to actually copy and paste my paper into an all new post if you don’t want to download it.  That way it gets published and I get something else to talk about 🙂

What’s really important here though, is submitting things that are pertinent.  I must sound like a broken record but if you are gearing everything to your desired field of study you’ll look that much more committed.  Everything I submitted dealt with comic books.  I think that was one of the strengths of my application.

6. Three Letters of Recommendation
Letters of rec are absolutely pivotal to your acceptance into grad school.  They give the graduate committee evidence of your abilities as reported by professionals, and that’s huge.  This is what MSU requires –

“Three letters of recommendation from professionals in a position to evaluate your potential for graduate study. At least one letter, ideally two, should come from former faculty members (or instructors) who can address your qualifications for academic course work at the graduate level and also your skills as a professional writer, or as a potential teacher if you are applying for the MA in CSLP. (If you have taken rhetoric or professional writing courses, it is most helpful to have letters from your instructors in those courses.)”

When I asked my advisor why I got into the program he told me that the college was a great fit for my interests and one of my letters of rec was amazing.  I have to thank Kelly Roman for that.  Luckily I’m good friends with one of my former professors so that helped to take care of my professor quota, and my last letter came from my freelancing boss over at Marvel.com.  Honestly, I think those were perfect.  Hopefully you guys have something similar.  Work those contacts!

So that’s the end of my two-part series on my grad school application materials.  Hopefully this gives some of you an idea of what it takes to apply.  Obviously some schools might have more or less rigorous apps but if you’re prepared it won’t matter what they throw at you.  Good luck!