Graduate School of Education

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I’m done! And I’m writing to you all from home! I got home on Saturday afternoon and then spent the rest of the day shopping for Christmas gifts. By the way, the holidays totally snuck up on me this year. I haven’t really had the time or chance to think about them and Christmas Eve is…today!

The days leading up to my exam, I spent quite a lot of time in one of my favorite study spaces on campus: The Graduate School of Education‘s Gutman Library. It underwent renovation last fall and was completed in the spring. Gutman Library is actually one of the most relaxing places ever. The people don’t seem very stressed out; perhaps it’s something about the Ed School culture? On top of the great atmosphere, they have awesome purple chairs, huge tables, comfy, lounge-like couches, and an amazing cafe that beats Starbucks any day. Check out the following video of John Collins, Head Librarian, who gives a tour of the renovated space:

What’s my favorite part about Gutman Library? No one checks your bag before you walk out! The other two libraries I frequent, Lamont and Widener, have people who sit at the entrance to inspect bags as students are leaving. They have to do this to make sure that someone isn’t walking out with items such as the Gutenberg Bible, of which Widener has a complete surviving copy. There are so many important books in our libraries…it’s nuts. It’s funny because as soon as you walk out of Gutman, it feels strange that no one asks you to open every compartment of your backpack. I love it. Hey, it’s the little things! And speaking of little things, another one of my favorite parts about Gutman is the fact that Dean McCartney buys everyone free coffee and tea throughout Final Exam Period! No kidding — it’s free drinks every single day, and you don’t even have to be an Ed School student. However, she was just named President of Smith College so I’m hoping whoever succeeds her will still buy us free coffee and tea during exams. I know it sounds hilarious but it’s really one of my favorite parts of studying there at the end of each semester! Gutman Library is truly a gem, and if you get the chance, I hope you’ll all check it out!

My sister, Amanda, came to visit on Thursday and stayed with me for two days. I don’t see her too often because she lives and works in Los Angeles, so all I wanted to do was hang out with her. Of course, I had to force myself to study! Luckily, I brought her to Gutman with me on Thursday and we were able to do work next to each other. She loved Gutman as much as I do, and just ask her for an outside opinion; I’m confident she would give rave reviews.

Happy Yim siblings!

Happy Yim siblings!

Now that I’m home, I’m ready to take some time to relax for the holidays, which will include plenty of eating, as well as Netflix watching. I’m thinking of starting a new television series. I also have several books I want to read. After some much needed chill time, I think I’ll start applying to post-grad opportunities. I’m also going to Korea with three friends from Harvard for 5 days to do a final promotional run for the documentary series that I was a part of this past summer. However, I’m purposely trying not to stay too busy!

I hope everyone enjoys the holidays and the end of the year. I also hope you’ll write or tweet to us bloggers if you have any questions! See you all in 2013!

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Last week, I helped launch a campaign for President of the United States. I’m a blogger and foreign policy advisor, and we already have a multitude of other advisors, a campaign manager, press secretary, and even an embedded reporter.

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a real campaign. Instead, it’s a simulated presidential election for a class I’m taking at the Kennedy School of Government (KSG) on political communication. Instead of just learning how campaigns are run and how to deliver messages to voters, we actually give speeches, write press releases, and then help our candidate prepare for the debate that serves as the capstone to the course. Throughout, we’re receiving feedback and lectures by the professor, who is an active political consultant and manager on actual presidential campaigns.

Taking courses at Harvard’s graduate school is one of the lesser-used treasures of Harvard. If the 1000+ courses offered through the College and the Faculty of Arts and Science aren’t enough, there are 1000s of additional courses available through Harvard’s graduate schools. Are you deeply interested in policy making and politics? Take a class at the Kennedy School. Want to revolutionize education? Try out the Graduate School of Education (GSE). Interested in the legal issues surround tech companies? Cross register at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School. Cross registering is simple: just get permission of the professor, get a form signed, and then you’re in. Many concentrations (such as mine, Social Studies) even offer concentration credit for a number of the courses.

While I took the political communication class on a whim, having the Graduate School of Education has both inspired me to write on education for my senior thesis and learn more about my specific topic, education technology, before I begin my research this summer. I took the course “Education Policy Analysis and Research in Comparative Perspective” last semester where I learned to think about how to implement programs and policies in practice, considering economic, political, and physical constraints. While the College’s strength is in liberal arts, providing a strong foundation in theory, this shift in thought forced me to think in new ways.

Beyond the course, taking classes at the graduate schools also offers a number of prospectives from people outside of academia. The GSE course included a number of guest lectures from educational entrepreneurs, heads of international aid agencies, World Bank economists, and more. Through the Kennedy School course, I’ve even heard from one of Obama’s current speech writers. Having taken the courses, I have been able to meet the students at the respective graduate schools, who are experienced in their respective disciplines and can provide perspective on what it’s like to actually work in the field in the real world. Finally, you’re able to build out a network of professors in subjects you’d like to get to more involved in; in fact, my GSE professor is actually helping me with my thesis over the coming year.

While the College offers plenty of courses, exploring the graduate schools is yet another way to learn about subjects in greater depth and try something new!

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