Thursday, May 23, 2013

Advice from a Graduate

Written by Thien Van Tran

There are certain encounters in our lives that we know will never be repeated as long as we live. The exhilaration we felt when we had our first kiss, the awe we experienced when we saw the Grand Canyon, the nausea that overcame us after seeing the first Saw movie. Then there are other encounters that we just let slip by unnoticed.

The times that I regret the most are missed opportunities to say farewell to good friends, to wish them long, abundant lives. Like many others, I loathe goodbyes and do all I can to avoid experiencing them. I’d rather cover myself in honey and go on a bear watch. Usually a “later dude” will escape my lips accompanied by thoughts and intentions of reuniting at a later time filling my head. But that time may never come.

While out celebrating and causing mischief a few nights ago with friends, this possibility of permanent separation still had not hit me. Not until a friend whispered to me, “This cannot be the last time I see you.”

Her words were a swift kick to the crotch. While everyone around me continued to dance and sing and make bad decisions, I stood there dumbfounded. Tears grew out of nowhere and my mood changed from stupidly happy to sad. I realized that I was about to leave my dearest of friends with nothing more than a sincere “later dude.”

Don’t let your friends disappear into memories. Take time off from studying and enjoy a bacon latte with your best friend. Put homework on pause to catch up with someone in the midst of a busy semester. Talk to that pretty girl you’ve been wanting to. Ask that guy to formal with you. How much time should you devote to school and life and work? I have no clue. It’s not black and white, and will be different for each person. It’s quite grey, at least 50 shades of grey (if you know what I mean).

So my advice to you is this: stop once in a while and appreciate what you have here. All these people who have come from all over the country, all over the world, to be part of your life should not be taken for granted. We are all here to go to school and get a degree and find a job, but take some time to truly experience it. Living life is like cooking. In order to do well, you must pay attention to the process, the little details.

After all, the journey is more important than the end or the start. And to my friends, I thank you all, and farewell. I await our next encounter.

What is the GRE?

Written by Thien Van Tran

What is the GRE and Why Should I Take it?

If you are thinking about going to graduate school, you need to get familiar with the GRE. What is the GRE? It's the SAT's bigger brother. And by bigger I mean more difficult. And it costs more. Like a buttload ton. So don't just think that you can retake it as many times as you wish. It is the standardized test that colleges across the United States use as an admissions requirement. However, instead of going into college as an undergrad, you'll be applying as a graduate student. In order to be competitive, your scores will need to be among the highest of those who apply. Also, the job market is a fight for survival right now, so having a Master's degree will definitely boost your chances of surviving the apocalypse.

Having your Master's is like these guys having light sabers. Problem solved

The test itself is made up of three sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Basically, it's math, reading, and writing. It is a timed test, so working quickly is just as important as knowing the material.

How Do I Study?

Take practice exams. The GRE can be easy, believe me. But it doesn't test how good you are at the material. It tests how good you are at taking tests. The questions are written by people who must be as crazed as road lizards. Therefore the only way you can actually be prepared for the questions they ask is to see them beforehand. The company who writes the exams, ETS, has a program available to simulate the actual test, and contains two complete exams. These are very accurate, and in my own experience, I took the practice tests the day before the real thing and scored within two points of my practice score for my Verbal and Quantitative sections.

So what if you do badly on the practice tests? Well you need to assess which sections are your weakest. If math is your weak spot, brush up on your skills with a practice book by AP. Rather than trying to relearn Geometry, I would recommend that you study all the little tricks that allow you to see shortcuts to problems. The main issue that people have on the Math section is time. Doing problems the long way is time consuming, and there is almost always a shorter, "clever" way. If your verbal skills aren't so sharp, study vocab. How much vocab? ALL OF IT. The GRE literally picks the most obscure words in the English language and manages to use 15 of them in a single sentence. If you don't know what a few of them mean, you're probably not going to do well.

When Should I Take It?

Wheneva you want brotha. The scores are good for five years, so if you want to take the exam sooner so that your math is fresh in your head or whatever, go ahead and do so! When it comes time to graduate, you won't have to worry about studying for your GRE in your senior year. However, the prices do fluctuate so if you want to save some money, try to monitor when prices go up and down throughout the year. But, you can only take a test every 30 days. So good luck studying!!