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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD


The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at

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Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Advice on picking a graduate school

By Mark Vuong

April 17, 2009 | LOGAN -- The most important decision to make when deciding to attend graduate school is whether you want to do research or teach, says Rebecca Smith, a USU Ph.D. student.

"Think about what it is that you really want to do," Smith told a free graduate seminar hosted by Alpha Kappa Delta on Wednesday in Old Main.

Donna Crow, director of career services, said when choosing a school do not pick it for its name or national ranking, but rather pick a school based on the professors and what projects they are working on.

Identify three faculty members within the area of interest, contact them and find out their current research project, said sociology assistant professor Christy Glass, who has a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University.

"Do not hesitate to contact the faculty members," she said. "We're really egotistical when it comes to our research projects. We like to hear that students are excited about our work."

Also, do not be afraid to ask about funding, housing, opportunities to co-author and the atmosphere of the place, she said.

Hala Hadawar, a graduate student studying neurobiology, is a teaching assistant and teaches three labs per week and receives a monthly stipend. Before making a decision on which graduate school to attend it is important to know the professors that the student is going to be working with, said Hadawar, who received her bachelor's at University of California, San Diego, adding, "Professors are key."

For a lot of students who are contemplating graduate school it's usually money that makes them hesitate.

Patti Kohler from the Financial Aid Office said that once students receive their bachelor's they will not be eligible for Pell grants from the federal government. Once students are in graduate school it's all loans from there on out, she said. High tier schools, such as Stanford and Harvard, require more than $20,500 a year, she said, which is the maximum amount a student can take a loan from the government every year.

She listed two Web sites students can visit for loans: http://www.usu.edu/finaid or http://www.finaid.org.

Crow encourages students to attend a graduate school other than where they received their bachelorís. Go out and see different cultures, be diverse, she said.

Hadawar said when it comes to graduate school it's up to students to take the initiative. "No one is going to stand behind you to tell you to get off your butt and get to work."

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