Final Write Up

Posted on May 10, 2013

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Linking Back to the Proposal

In my Project Proposal, I laid out clear and concise directions on what I wanted to do with this project. I said in my executive decision

“I want to document my process of researching and choosing a graduate school using the blog to link to the data I find. I am choosing to do this because it will help me to hone into my choices and narrow my scope, along with providing a writing space that I can reference back to if I need to.”

The Project

I managed to post pretty regularly! And I did manage to research two thirds of my list. The first week I focused on honing in what I wanted to talk about in my project. I made two brainstorming posts, Starting Out Research and A Complete School List. These were important to me because they allowed me to figure out what exactly it was in these posts that I wanted to talk about.

The following two weeks is when I really dug into it; Bemidji State University, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, St. Cloud State University, Mankato State University, and Winona State University. I ended the third week by doing A Review of the First Schools before moving beyond the Minnesota Borders.

Then I took a break to do some Studio Tours! I researched Sarah Dalheimer’s Fiction Blog, Jake Ford’s Hockey Blog, and Jordan Malmsy’s OOP Wiki. It was interesting to see what other people were doing in the class and more importantly what they were doing in the class. It was particularly interesting to see what someone was doing with a Wiki.

The last week was all about Iowa; Iowa State University, University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa. Which actually brings us to now. I haven’t finished my school list so I actually want to keep going with this project. This was a pretty personal project too because these are all schools that I am actually considering for my own graduate program.

I am also including my links to my Weekly Reflections: Week One, Week Two, Week ThreeWeek Four and Week Five.

The Great, The Good, and The Bad

When I first started this project, I did have somewhat of a formula in mind. I had an idea of what schools I wanted to research, what kind of articles I wanted to put into my posts, and what sort of outcome I wanted at the end. However I did not find many of the articles I wanted to find. I was hoping to find more opinion articles, something about the programs or possibly even another blog. But my research uncovered more research articles and info graphs than anything else.

I am happy with how the posts ended up working out. It is true that they were pretty formulaic but that also means that they were easier to read and follow. I also ended up getting more practice at navigating the school’s website and finding information.

Something that I really enjoyed about this project was the chance to reach out and communicate with these schools. In more than one post, I emailed either the graduate director or the head of the English Graduate Department. This gives me a chance to network with potential programs and possibly even give a name to my face.

One thing that I did not get much of was feedback. I had plenty of bloggers like my posts and many of those bloggers decided to follow my blog, but not many bloggers actually commented on my work. Two possible solutions; they all secretly hated my posts and were more spamming me up than anything else or they were silent admirers. Or there is the alternative; nothing that I was posting was actually interesting.

I also enjoyed much of the unexpected information I came across. For example, I learned how under rated the program at Winona was. It is one of the best rated schools in the Midwest and also one of the highest ranking in Minnesota. There was at least one unexpected thing that I learned about each school.

This project was pretty informative for me. I learned a lot about graduate programs and what to look for when researching them. I learned some great ways in how to access the information I needed and what my resources were. However this is tied in with the bad too; I was surprised at times how hard it was to find information outside of the school’s website. I did find links to many helpful infographs (like this one and this one for the University of Minnesota) but other than that the information was pretty sparse. I am not really sure where to contribute that to. Maybe no one had really attempted to tackle a project this specific before. Maybe the school’s were not interested in getting that type of press. Maybe this. Maybe that.

One of the other problems that I ran into was that I got sick for a part of week 3. I did not post during that time and it set me back definitely more than I wanted to be. This is why I haven’t finished yet. However I do feel like this is a project that I could just keep going with and keep extending for even longer than a couple weeks, even longer then a semester. The other thing that this project taught me was how much hard work goes into blogging, and how much time said blogger needs to spend on their work.

This blog was meant to serve as a research log; a place for me to record my findings, put in my own input, and possibly access that information later if I needed to. I feel like the blog has succeeded in that task. However my end goal from this project was to at least have some schools in mind for application with at least one first pick chosen. However I have not decided fully on which programs I want to apply for now. I want to keep doing research and broadening my scope.

Wrapping it Up

Overall, I am not sure how much of an effect my project will be leaving on the blogging community, or the online writing community in general. I would like to believe that if someone was researching English Programs, I have made this blog accessible enough that those people could find it. I do think that this project is a reflection of the importance of routine and passion to the actual content of the blog. Because I enjoyed researching and writing about these schools, I less thought of this as a responsibility and more as something that I looked forward to.

If I were to do this project again, I would probably change my approach to the information. I would possibly try to even get some advertising from the schools about their graduate programs, something I could present on my blog. I would also take my vitamin c so I would not get sick again. But I would not change the topics that I focused on because the topics that I focused on are imperative to consider when applying to a graduate program.

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