Blog Series Banner (Grad School Confidential)

Grad School Confidential: Robert Young

So far there has been a marked difference between my career as an undergraduate in Ball State’s English department and the beginnings of my graduate work. With more reading to do, as well as a whole new approach to learning, graduate school expects more of me, though I knew this would be true.

I knew that it would be difficult, but already I can tell it will be immensely rewarding.

Now almost a whole semester into my Masters in Creative Writing, I’ve been challenged to think about school in a whole new way, fostering my abilities as a teacher as well as a learner, due to my position as a graduate assistant.DSC00170

One specific difference between graduate and undergraduate studies has simply been the sheer amount of reading expected of me. My classes so far have, on average, required me to do almost twice as much reading, but as an avid reader this has not been difficult for me. It does however cut down on my Netflix time. Something that has been totally new for me has been my experiences thus far in the Writing Program. Working in the writing center, being a TA for an ENG 103 class, and really submerging myself in the theories and practices of teaching have been all new experiences for me. And yet, I feel prepared to face the changes.

Having spent four years at BSU gave me a familiarity with both the campus and faculty that eased the transition into graduate school, but it was still apparent that this new level of academia would push me to the limit. Having said that, I feel prepared to face the challenge. I’ve met some wonderful new people who I will be sharing this experience with. I have also reconnected with some familiar faces. Overall, the nervousness that I’m feeling about graduate school is vastly outweighed by the sense of excitement – like entering a whole new world. Here’s to BSU and hoping that the next two years continue fostering my growth as a writer. And discovering new writers and books is never a bad thing.

Department Dialogue: What Does Literature Mean to Me?

lWe’re launching a new series that we’ve titled “Department Dialogue.” This series offers our professors a platform that they can use to discuss English-related topics that are of interest to both faculty and students alike. Our first post in this series is brought to you by our literature faculty, who all answered the same question: what does literature mean to you? 

I remember my excitement when I started my education in literature as an undergraduate as my professors introduced me to a whole world of great books and also a whole new set of ways to think about those books at the same time.

They showed me that analyzing literature from different critical perspectives blurred the line between pleasure reading and school reading and that thinking deeply about what I read could actually enhance my enjoyment of books. I hope to pass on this same idea to my students!

-Professor Adam Beach (more…)

Blog Series Banner (Stars to Steer By)

Stars to Steer By: Dustin Tipton

Dustin Tipton graduated from Ball State in 2012. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a focus in Creative Writing and Literature. He is the Chief Engineer for Hilton Garden Inn West Chester and KB Hotel Group. He lives in Cincinnati with his fiance, and they are expecting their first child, Zoe Loraine. 

Prior to Ball State, I worked at the local manufacturing TiptonBioPicfacility in my hometown. That’s where I gained a love for what most employers recognize as “technical skills.”

But, really, I just loved the process of taking something apart and putting it back together. I think it’s that aspect that also made me love studying literature and writing. The act of taking apart a story, trying to understand why something in the narrative is or isn’t working, truly isn’t all that different from taking apart a complex piece of machinery and understanding why that isn’t working.

Most people will say that communication is the biggest advantage in being an English major in today’s job market—and, for obvious reasons, there is a lot of truth in that. English majors do possess an ability to communicate much more effectively than those who graduate in an industry-specific field. It is critical thinking, however, that really sets us





There is no greater companion to critical thinking than creativity.

The ability to think creatively opens up an endless amount of ways to come up with a solution. Once you become known as the go-to person for a quick, creative solution, then you’ve already set yourself apart. David Foster Wallace spoke about this (and did so much more eloquently) in his This is Water speech. English majors are being taught to think rather than being taught how to think, and I’ve found the former to be a distinct advantage over the latter in my life.

I majored in a number of areas before realizing that I had to follow what I truly love. Somewhere beyond the halfway point of a business degree (and hating every minute of it) I decided to enroll in an intro to literature course. I believe it was a 200 level course designed specifically for non-English majors who may  be interested in English studies. That course was with Dr Rai Peterson. In the classroom, the discussions, the learning environment, I felt so at home that by the third class meeting, I walked from the classroom to across the hall and picked up a “Change of Major” form.

That course made me realize not only could I study what I love, but it was imperative.

I was a silent fixture in the corner of Rai’s classrooms for the next few years until graduation.

Here’s my advice: Do what you love, but don’t be afraid to try new fields (careers) to figure out what you love. Whatever you do, do it with passion. You have every right to bounce around until you find something that brings you passion.