Missouri State University
Graduate College Blog

Student Spotlight: Research and affordability were key elements in Meghan’s decision to attend MSU for her Master’s program!

Eight…that is the number of graduate schools I applied to.  It is also the number of graduate schools I was accepted to.  One million; that’s about the number of times I freaked out trying to decide which school was right for me.  One is the number of schools I was actually able to choose because apparently you can’t attend more than one graduate school at a time.  Who knew?

I am from Palmyra, Missouri.  I would ask if you have ever heard of it, but I know you probably haven’t, because just about no one has.  Palmyra has a population of about 4,000, a little too small for my liking.  My mother was a single parent, and we were never wealthy.  When deciding on where to go for my undergrad, I knew I wanted to go somewhere bigger, but preferably not too far from home.  It also could not be too expensive, otherwise college would not be an option.  Truman State University wasn’t too far from home, had a pretty great reputation, and was affordable.  I decided to attend Truman, and ended up spending the next four years of my life in Kirksville, Missouri.

When I started at Truman, I thought I hated research.  Any time someone said they were going to join a research team, or conduct their own research, I thought it sounded absolutely terrible.  The thing is, though, I had no reason to not like it.  I had never done research other than writing papers or finding information already made public by someone else.  So when I learned about the McNair Program at Truman, I figured it was worth it to try my hand at conducting research.  I applied for the McNair Program my sophomore year, and was accepted.  I went on to conduct my own research and was published in the McNair Scholarly Review in April 2016.

During my time in McNair, I realized that I actually love research.  I love being able to find out new information that no one has found.  I knew that the graduate school I attended needed to offer opportunities for students to participate in research, and would love for that school to continue to support my history as a McNair scholar.

The other concern was that it also, like Truman, needed to be affordable.  Graduate school was never really part of my plan, but by the time I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, it was the only thing I knew I wanted to do.  So, I needed to find a graduate school that promoted research, provided continued support and opportunity for McNair scholars, and would be affordable.  And the school I found was Missouri State University.

Missouri State University is a strong promoter of research, which was the major attraction for me.  When I visited campus and met with Dr. David Claborn in the Master of Public Health department, his excitement for research assured me I had chosen the right school.  I am now studying public health at MSU, and am learning from some of the most enthusiastic, involved, and caring faculty I have ever had the opportunity to learn from.  I assist Dr. Claborn with his research on mosquitoes and am learning new information I never thought I would be exposed to. Missouri State provided me with everything I wanted in a graduate school – affordability, research opportunity, and work through a Graduate Assistantship.

I made the choice to move to Springfield based on the fact that I knew Missouri State was the school for me, even though I did not know more than two people here when I moved.  Sounds terrifying, right?  It was.  However, I knew MSU had the opportunity and resources I was craving that made that terrifying fact, well, less terrifying.  Springfield has an enormous amount of opportunity for students and things to do that made me excited to be here.  Finding a place where I was able to have a fresh perspective and not be terrified about not knowing anyone was extremely comforting, and I had no worries about it at all.  I found not only opportunity at Missouri State, but I also found another home, where I’m supposed to be. – Meghan Meyers

Meghan is a 1st year graduate student and Graduate Assistant in the Master’s of Public Health program.

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Resources for Grad Students: RStats Institute

whiteboard-graph  The RStats Institute, headed by Dr. Todd Daniel, is one of the many useful services available to all students at MSU. RStats stands for Research, Statistical Training, Analysis, and Technical Support. This service can help you with anything stats related from trouble shooting issues with your software to running analyses and more. They also offer help using multiple platforms including SPSS, Microsoft Excel, and R. This can be particularly useful when you are doing a thesis or any sort of project that involves statistical analyses. Not only does the RStats Institute offer one on one appointments, they also offer tutoring and a number of workshops and training classes.

I visited the RStats Institute after I completed data collection on my thesis. I had cleaned my data, ran reliabilities on all my scales and now it was time to run the main analyses for my thesis. The problem was, that I had become so confused by my complicated research design that I could not figure out how to run the necessary analyses. I met with Dr. Daniel and his graduate assistant, Emily Klug in their office at the Park Central Office Building. I was hoping that with their help I would be able to untangle my complicated research design and finally get some answers. I explained the design of my study and gave them both a brief rundown of my variables so they could help me in running analyses. After I explained it to him, Dr. Daniel pulled out a book and found the exact model I needed to use! He then helped me run all my analyses using SPSS. Dr. Daniel was extremely knowledgeable about statistics and even helped me to understand my own study better. The appointment went great, and helped me to figure out something I had spent weeks thinking about. Visiting the RStats Institute really helped to relive a lot of stress I had related to my thesis. I wish I had visited Dr. Daniel and Emily sooner! – Alise Kottman

Alise is in her final semester of the I/O Psychology graduate program.

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Student Spotlight: How a graduate program brought Shannon back home!

I was born and raised here in Springfield, MO. Both my parents went to Missouri State University, but at that time it was called Southwest Missouri State University. They meet while working at an event planning committees that help set up for concerts. Twenty-eight years and three kids later, they are still happily married.

Like I said before, me and my sisters grew up in Springfield, so of course when I was about to graduate from high school and I was looking for colleges, I could not actually stay in Springfield. I was 18 and convinced that I needed to go somewhere where no one from my high school was going. So I ended up going to the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.

After going there for 4 ½ years I finally graduated with a B.S. in Biology, and I was ready to get a cool job doing some kind of “Saving the World” conservation.  After job hunting for over a year I finally got a job at the Missouri Department of Conservation. I worked there for a year and it was great, but I was at the bottom of the totem pole. I talked with my supervisor multiple times about grad school, and I decided that I was ready to go back to get my Master’s degree.

Looking for a graduate school was a lot different from when I was 18 looking for an undergraduate college. I knew that I was going to have to find a professor that I could work close with for the next two years. I started to look at multiple schools, including Missouri State University. I also knew that I wanted to work with reptiles and amphibians, so I started looking at different people who work with these creatures.

After some research, I found that MSU has 3 professors which mainly work with these animals. So I decided to schedule an appointment to meet with them and see what their research labs were like. I met with Dr. Alicia Mathis (my current advisor), and I loved her lab! After talking to her I decided to walk around campus, and even though I had been on campus several years before, I really liked what I saw. I was sold!

I am now a 1st year graduate student in the Biology Department. I have only just started my MSU experience, but so far it has been great! I have met so many different people and I really love being here. Even though MSU is bigger than my old school it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I can’t wait to see what my next 2 years bring! – Shannon Johnson

Shannon is a McNair Scholar and a Graduate Assistant in the Biology Department.

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Library Resources for Grad Students

The Meyer Library offers what seems like endless services to students. One of those services is a research consultation. Research consultations can be done either in person or virtually for students who are enrolled in online programs or who are unable to make it onto campus. This service is a great help to anyone looking to gain some direction on a paper or thesis as well as to maximize their usage of the databases. I met with research expert Tracy Stout to get some guidance on my thesis.

Tracy started by taking me to the Library website home page and showing me some of the features it has. Students can search the databases by subject by using the “subject guides” feature. This will limit your search to only psychology journals for example. An alternative to using the library databases is using Google Scholar. Google Scholar knows that you are on campus and have access to the collection of MSU’s databases. Because of this, it will search all of those as well as its regular google database. Google scholar might be useful for someone doing a more general search because it is slightly more user-friendly. The databases may be a better option for someone looking for a specific topic because search results can be narrowed by a number of qualifiers. Google scholar is also more forgiving when using keywords that are misspelled or similar to other keywords. On the databases you can use the “thesaurus” option to help you find better keywords to search for. For example, someone looking to research “road rage” can use the thesaurus option and it will tell them to instead search “aggressive driving behavior.” The databases also allow you to create a list of articles by selecting the folder option in the top right of the page. These articles can be saved or emailed to you. Additionally you can save a search query and set up alerts for it. This means that any time a new article is added that would be found under your search query you will get an alert to go look at it.

Another great feature the library offers is unlimited inter-library loans for graduate students. If you are searching for an article and you come across one that you do not have access to, you can use the inter-library loan feature to order a copy free of charge. This will help to ensure that you have a more complete literature review.

Finally, if you ever have a quick question you can use the “ask a librarian” feature on the library home page. This feature allows you to email, text, or chat with a librarian. This is very helpful for last-minute or quick questions that you don’t want to have to go to the library to get answered. The research consultation was a great experience that helped me learn a lot about how to maximize my search engine use. I now feel ready to tackle my thesis! – Alise Kottman

Alise is a graduate student in the I/O Psychology program and a Graduate Assistant for the Graduate College.

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Student Spotlight: Why Rachel chose MSU for her graduate education!

Hi! My name is Rachel Padget, and I am a Master’s of Science in biology student here at Missouri State University! I graduated in spring 2015 with my B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Central Missouri. I have 10 reasons why MSU would make an excellent choice for your graduate school education!

1. The research projects available within the biology department. To be accepted for a doctoral program, you must have research experience. At my smaller university, there wasn’t much opportunity for undergraduate research so I knew I had to go elsewhere. MSU has some amazing projects, where as a MS student, you can help lead experiments, which doesn’t typically happen if you attend where there are also PhD students.

2. The location is amazing. Springfield is such an interesting city. I’ve always been a small town person, so Springfield is the largest place I have lived in so far. In addition to that new experience, the Ozark area is rich in history and is beautiful. Sometimes, it is nice to take a drive to the lake to relax and study.

3. The rec center is amazing here! The pool is gigantic and even has a zip line. The weight area is always very clean and has a lot of variety. There are also a lot classes, like different styles of yoga or core class. The rock and bouldering wall are amazing, too!

4. My assistantship. I won’t pretend like getting paid to go to school wasn’t a big part of my choice to go here. The McNair assistantship is awesome! I work five hours a week in graduate admissions and then the other 15 hours, I work for the biology department. That means that I get to teach classes, which has been one of the best experiences of my life. There is a saying that you really know and understand the material when you have to teach it, and I would agree with that! Plus, the stipend is nice. It is hard at large universities to find funding for a master’s degree.

5. The professors in the biology department. The department here is a nice mix of wildlife and cell/micro professors but they are all so kind and knowledgeable. I have not regretted taking a single class, and I feel comfortable talking to many of the professors. The department also has picnics and lecture series every semester.

6. There are many events and opportunities that tour to Springfield. This past October, the Magna Carta was at MSU’s library. The Broadway musical, Wicked, toured for two weeks in February. There are some amazing events that many people don’t get the chance to see because of location, but not here in Springfield.

7. The sheer number of resources available on campus. The library is quite large and has many empty rooms and computers for public use. There are also clubs and groups on campus for every interest.

8. Springfield has a big effort for conservation and recreation. Some of the lakes and rivers that run by the city. Between the Nature Center by Springfield Lake and the Watershed Center, it is completely beautiful and are excellent places for a hike or run.

9. Springfield is a cheap area to live, and when you’re a grad student on a stipend, that is always a huge plus!

10. Braum’s chocolate chip cookie dough milkshakes, enough said. – Rachel Padget

Rachel is currently a second year Biology Master’s student and will graduate in May. Her future goal is to pursue a Biomedical PhD program.

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Why you should consider grad school!

“Go to college so you can get a good job!” is what we have always been told. While this is true, the meaning has shifted. In recent years, an undergraduate degree has been touted as “the new high school diploma.” This is due to a phenomenon known as degree inflation. So many students now have college educations that the value of a bachelor’s degree has limited potential compared to previous generations.

It may be tempting to take a job fresh out of college, but you may also be limiting your professional growth. Many companies want more and more students to have a master’s degree or higher to be considered for highly sought after positions.

Fortunately, here at Missouri State we want to provide our students with every opportunity to achieve the career of their dreams. With over 100 graduate programs, our students have the chance to focus on the career they deserve, not just a job.

The time is right to “Make Your Missouri Statement,” and I am here to tell you that choosing to further your education is a step in the right direction. – Garrett Nevels

Garrett is a student of the MBA program and a Graduate Assistant for the Graduate College.

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Welcome Home!

Why go anywhere else when you can pursue over 100 graduate programs right here at MSU! It’s alright to stay where you are valued and loved, just like at grandma’s house. So stop by the Graduate College Admission’s Office (CAR 308) on Monday, Oct. 10 (10am-5pm) to help us kick off Homecoming Week with some free milk and cookies and learn more about our offerings. welcome-home-pic

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