Graduate School Survival

The demands of graduate school are so high, that adds extra pressure to students and make them feel stressed. In my opinion, attending graduate school should be an exciting journey in students’ academic and personal life. In graduate school, students get the chance to learn new things, gain a lot of experience, and make social and professional connections.

Unfortunately, the demands of graduate school keep students busy from enjoying these advantages and many others; where in graduate school there is no room for emotions and no place for failure.  I believe that this is a big issue that needs to be highlighted. The academic curriculum is not flexible enough to open a room for students’ intervention so they make their own edits and indicate their preferences. The financial constraints that we often see in higher education make it more difficult for the curriculum to be more flexible and adjustable. Graduate school fees are considered expensive for most of the students, therefore students need to complete their programs as quick as possible. The mentioned factors and many others play big role in shaping the higher education system.  I hope to see some changes in the higher education systems in the future to make the graduate school experience more valuable and enjoyable for students.

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Challenges International Students May Face in Graduate School

Most international students who are new to the U.S. higher education face some challenges in the beginning. Higher education is a challenging experience for all students where this transition may present many difficulties. As a current graduate student who comes from Syria, I had in my fist year some initial concerns that were based on the fear of the unknown.  As time goes by, I got used to this transition in my academic and personal life and started to enjoy my new journey.

Many international graduate students do know what to expect in graduate school. Adjustment challenges are one of the most common challenges that international students may face, where everything is different to them. Students need to adapt to live in new cities and communities that present new cultures.

Another challenge is the English language challenge. International students have to learn the language of instruction in a short period of time to be able to start their program. They also have to adjust themselves to different set of expectations, where not everything may go as it is planned to.

Emotions play a major role in the scope of this topic. Some international students may get afraid from people’s judgment, so they look shy and not social in the beginning. Students have to draw their own conclusions to know what what to expect for the program or the degree. Some students may also feel guilty for leaving families behind in the home country. Students have to cope with these different feelings that they may experience so that they do not let them negatively impact on their life. I agree that international students  may face many challenges when starting a graduate school when study broad, however, I believe that many international graduate students succeeded in graduate school and have shown a great performance.









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Some Advantages and Disadvantages of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)

MOOCs are online courses that give participants free access to courses of their choice. What distinguish MOOCs is that they are available to the diverse audience around the world with free access. It makes learning accessible to everyone and everywhere. It also removes some of the financial constraints that we often see in higher education, where not everyone can afford to continue their education in a university or other institute. MOOC allows learners to share knowledge with a large exposure and access to many information.  Many professors who teach in universities ask their students to refer to these platforms as the quality of the information that is provided is high. MOOC provides a home-base or self-base learning; it can be so beneficial when used by participants who live in countries that suffer from a lock down of its educational institutes because of the conflicts. Some of the disadvantages that I see in the MOOC design is that it is not designed for people who need some special accommodations and learning courses are not available in different languages.  If these issues get tackled, I believe that MOOCs will dominate globally in the education sector and may impact on higher education.


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Higher Education and Labor Market

There is a gap between what students learn in higher education and what they experience and face in labor market. This issue needs to be accommodated quickly. Higher education should be a connecting bridge between the school stage in which students aim to learn and gain knowledge and the work stage where their skills and experience may play a critical role in evaluating their performance.

Most job positions ask job applicants to have certain qualifications and require specific certificates regardless of whether they are important for the position or not. In many cases, I see these requirements as protocols that are set in the job market. They do not present real sets of requirements that come after a real need for these positions. I agree that higher education is important, however, it is not fulfilling all students’ needs.  Higher education should make sure to prepare students to what to expect in the job market and equip them with some skills that they may need in their future jobs. This will facilitate their daily life and open a space for improvement and development in their career.

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COVID-19 and Changing to Online Learning

The world is witnessing many changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has caused a global lock down of many educational institutes including universities. The various education systems around the world had to response to this lock down to allow learning continuity in these chaos situations. A big and quick transition in teaching and learning methodology is happening worldwide including the United States, where learning has shifted to online format. As a current graduate student who is experiencing this, I am amazed from the speed and the level of resistance and adaptability that the educational  systems have shown. It is great to see that these systems are flexible and are able to be critical in these situations where they plan and implement instant solutions.

However, some issues have appeared when this transition happened. Some professors were not ready to that change and could not adapt to it quickly. Some have refused to use the online platforms and preferred to stay on the traditional way so they distributed their notes to the students.  I believe that this is a serious issue because educators should always try to develop their teaching techniques for the benefit of the students to fulfill their needs.

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Future of Higher Education

When talking about the higher education in the US, I see strong educational systems that provide students with lots of opportunities through their learning journey, e.g., gaining some teaching and research experiences. However, the higher education is facing many issues that need to be raised. One of these issues is students debt; universities tuition has increased significantly in the last two decades leading to larger student loan debts.

According to Business Insider Website, the national student debt is estimated to be over 1.5 trillion dollars. On a different site I found “an illustration of tuition increases across the U.S.” between 2008 and 2016 link: “Arizona +87.8%, Louisiana +79.8%, California +63.8%, New York +31.7% and Montana +4.8%.”

High tuition fees are causing some financial constraints where not everyone can afford continuing his or her education. This issue is leading the higher education to be less accessible and that contradicts with its main goals that involves sharing learning and spreading knowledge. In addition, most students who have large debts are having some serious issues in saving that may lead them to postpone some important events in their life, e.g., getting married or buying a house.

Authorized people should embrace a meaningful change regarding this issue. I hope to see the US higher education and other similar educational systems around the world more accessible in the future, where it can be affordable to everyone and everywhere. This change is not just going to affect the educational sector, I believe that it will positively impact on the different society sectors and will definitely have some influences nationally and internationally.

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Technology and Innovation in Higher Education

I found an interesting blog that talks about the use of social media by faculty members in higher education. The blog post goes back to 2013 and was updated in December 2017. However, for a person who is curious to know more about this topic, I see that the blog includes some interesting findings that are important to know.

The blog indicates that Babson Survey Research Group and Pearson have surveyed 8000 faculty members in higher education from different disciplines; they asked them about their usage of social media for teaching and learning purposes in their classes. The results of the report were not surprising; it showed that there is a noticeable increase in the use of social media in classes by the professors. However, more concerns are rising up with that increase.

Some of the concerns included some privacy issues and concerns about sharing some personal information. Other concerns included viewing the ‘interactive nature’ of online and mobile technology as a distracting tool for students more than educating or teaching tool. I respect all those concerns, however, I think that these issues can be solved by creating an app that integrates with the different social media sites but at the same time provides some level of privacy to the users. This ‘educational app’ may add an additional content to the student ‘news feed’ but at the same time it allows specific people to view these posts or add comments on these posts. Another suggestion will be creating a separate app that underlies under the social media trends but is different in its content and structure from these popular apps that we use nowadays.

I believe that it is important to engage social media more in our classes, where it is a great tool to connect students with their educators. With the fact that social media is evolving fast, where it is now reaching almost everybody on this earth, social media can be used to connect students with  many international professionals and keep the students updated with the latest studies. I also believe that by achieving that, we are changing our impression of social media, where now some will view it as an educator tool.


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Open Access journal in Architecture

This is my first time where I try to search for an open access journal in the field of Architecture. Through my research I noticed that there are few journals, the number does not exceed 21 journals, that provide this kind of service to the public in my field of study compared to other disciplines like education where I found ninety-nine open access journals.

One of the journals is called A+BE: Architecture and the Built Environment. It is an open access journal that manages and publishes doctoral theses in the fields that relates to Architecture and design sustainability, e.g. architectural Engineering, urbanism, and geo-deign. A+BE belongs to Delft University of Technology in Netherlands, one of the best architecture universities in the world.

I did not find specific information in their website that explains how the journal approaches and addresses open access. However, it was mentioned in the website that they focus on publishing issues and topics that are devoted to authors thesis. The website left me in curiosity to know more about the journal itself and how its team values and looks at open access.




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My Reflection on “My Lab Boss Puts His Name on My Papers and Proposals” Case Study

My Reflection on “My Lab Boss Puts His Name on My Papers and Proposals” Case Study

Ana is a research scientist that has become a victim of a type of research misconduct. She is a non-native English speaker; English is her third language. Ana got her postdoctoral fellowship from an institute that its atmosphere is fiercely competitive where researchers seek to have large numbers of publications.

Ana values exchanging ideas and enjoys supporting her colleagues, in return she usually asks them to review her work and give her some comments on it. However, people return her manuscripts with their names mentioned as authors. Ana gets upset but she does not do any action, she minimizes the problem by thinking that it is a normal price to pay for being in a scholarly environment.  In one specific case, her lab boss steals the authorship of a proposal she has written for funding by NIH without even mentioning this to her as if it is his right to do so. Some people within this institute who witnessed this tried to help her by emphasizing how serious the problem is. Sadly, Ana was not able to do anything regarding this issue.

As a non-native English speaker, I also usually ask my colleagues to review my work. I value exchanging ideas but in ethical manners and it really concerns me to get into similar situation where I may become a victim of research misconduct. I believe that we all should respect the intellectual property. And to do so, people who are in charged should spread more awareness about this topic to educate people about the seriousness of this issue and inform them about the sequences of the improper awarding of authorship on the real author and on the person who does this type of misconducting.


Case One: My Lab Boss Puts His Name on My Papers and Proposals. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2020, from

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Mission Statement

MIT’s mission statement:

“The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

The Institute is committed to generating, disseminating and preserving knowledge, and to working with others to bring this knowledge to bear on the world’s great challenges. MIT is dedicated to providing its students with an education that combines rigorous academic study and the excitement of discovery with the support and intellectual stimulation of a diverse campus community.

We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion for working wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind”.


Mission Statement. (2016, February 15). Retrieved February 9, 2020, from

My reflection:

The mission statement mentions the university’s goals. It indicates MIT’s strategy and philosophy of operation that highlights the importance of gaining knowledge and education to face the different challenges in the world. The statement also reflects the university’s learning strategies that combines the different processes of educating, exploring, and discovering to have meaningful learning. MIT’s objective is to prepare the different generations to carry efficiently the responsibilities of improving and guiding the future.

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