Shelby Gilson recently began her second year as a grad student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. For the Hico, Texas resident and native, Tarleton is a family affair. Her mother, Jamie Long, is Tarleton State University staff member in IT Services, and Shelby has been a student employee for over five years while pursuing her undergraduate and graduate education. Shelby currently works as a graduate assistant in the Student Counseling Center, and specializes in stress management, test anxiety, and time management.
Learn more about Shelby in the following conversation.
COGS: How has your GA position helped you gain experience to develop your future career?
SG: It has been such an answered prayer! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because I get to see people doing what I want to do. I get to see them interact with people. I’m learning in class how to interact with clients, but at work I’m learning the other side of that, such as things that you do after you counsel a client. I’m watching people, and in a sense, getting hands on experience because essentially I work with the people I want to be.
COGS: What is a typical day like for you as a grad student?
SG: Pretty much the papers and homework consume my life. Thankfully, having a job at Tarleton is flexible, but if I’m not working at Tarleton, I’m working on homework and writing papers and reading. Also, the Counseling program is really big on promoting self-care, so it’s not just school. They really want us to promote a balance between getting your work done, but still doing things that you enjoy to keep yourself from burnout.
COGS: You’re going to be doing an informational session on time management at the COGS Open House on October 26th. Without giving too much away, tell us about the balance of work, life, and school obligations.
SG: You really have to be able to say no to some things. You can’t overcommit yourself. You have to be able to make time to study and do other things, and there is plenty of time in the day. I may not be able to study every day, or work on a paper every day, but you just have to be able to find that balance. It’s different for everybody, but in grad school that’s one thing that kind of differs from undergrad. You have to have time management.
Personally, I make it a point to start a paper at least a week early, and I’ll sit down for a couple of hours at a time and write a few pages, and that way I’m not saving it for the last minute. In between, if I work for an hour or so, I’ll take a break and watch some Netflix, get something to eat, and come back with a fresh mentality. That way, I am ready to work again, and I don’t wear myself down. That’s the only way I can pass and make good grades: To stay mentally healthy.
COGS: What advice would you have for someone currently going through the grad school search and admissions process?
SG: I would definitely tell people the importance of grad school. It provides you more opportunities, but it is hard work. I mean, you have to really be committed. But it is possible! Anyone who is committed can do it if I can do it.