Should I take the GRE?

It is common for international students to ask if a graduate program requires GRE or GMAT scores for admission. Some even ask which programs do not. It surprises us that students would apply to a grad program because an entrance exam is not required. However we understand our expectations of graduate school applicants may be different from students’. So before we tell you if you should take the GRE or not, let us explain the right reasons for applying to grad school.

Why should you go to grad school?

Enrolling in a graduate program-including certificate, master’s, and doctorate programs-can be a beneficial and life-changing experience. However grad school is a challenge. Students devote great amounts of time, effort, and energy to the pursuit of a graduate degree. To ensure success, students should enroll in grad school for the right reasons. A grad student should be in a graduate program because she or he is passionate about the subject matter, focused on a clear career goal that the program will help him or her achieve, or for both reasons!

Passion for the subject matter helps ensure grad school success by motivating the student to focus on course work and put forth the best effort. Passionate students typically produce the highest quality work and develop the best relationships with faculty. Applying to a graduate program that interests you increases your chances of becoming a happy, successful grad student.

Another strong motivation for pursuing graduate study is career advancement. For example, an MBA might qualify one student for a promotion with a current employer. Another student may be a teacher who knows he or she will be more attractive to employers after earning a Master of Education degree. Clear professional goals are another way to motivate grad students to excel at their work. If you are applying to a graduate program because it will advance your career, you are applying for the right reasons!

Back to the original question: should I take the GRE or not?

Yes. If the graduate program you are interested in requires GRE or GMAT scores for admission, and you are passionate about the subject area or you feel the program would help you professionally, you should take the required exam. We understand tests present some challenges. For example, they can be difficult for non-native speakers of English. In addition, scheduling a test date, studying for the exam, and requesting score reports can take a long time and cause a student to miss application deadlines if not done early enough. However applying to the right graduate program is worth the time and effort needed to meet admissions requirements.

Grad school is hard. A graduate program will present much tougher tasks than the GRE. Reading assignments can take hours to complete. You will conduct extensive research for projects. Finally, a thesis or comprehensive exam could be the biggest challenges of a student’s academic life!

Considering the challenge that grad school presents, it is much more important to focus on choosing a graduate program that meets your goals and interests, instead of finding a way to get into grad school without taking an entrance exam. Even if a program does not require GRE or GMAT scores, students should still expect the courses to be rigorous and challenging. Students who apply to a program for the right reasons will be better prepared to succeed.

Ben Shupe, Eastern Tennessee State University

16 Fun Facts about Tennessee

Tennessee was the 16th territory to enter the United States in 1796. As a nod to our statehood 220 years ago, here are 16 interesting facts about Tennessee.
1.    Chattanooga is home to the world’s largest freshwater aquarium
2.    The Great Smoky Mountains are the most visited National Park. 
3.    Tennessee’s nickname, the Volunteer State, was earned during the War of 1812, when it sent so many soldiers to fight in the Battle of New Orleans. 
4.    Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley in Memphis, is the most visited private home in Tennessee. 
5.    The Copper Basin, an old copper mine, was once able to be recognized from space. 
6.    Known as “The Lost Sea,” the largest underground lake, over 13 acres, is located in Sweetwater. 
7.    Tennessee’s name comes from an old Cherokee word, Tanasqui, whose meaning is lost but possibly refers to where a river bends back on itself. 
8.    The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville is the longest running live radio program. Begun in 1925, It airs on Friday and Saturday evenings.
9.    Reelfoot Lake was created by a series of earthquakes in 1811 and 1812 which caused the Mississippi River to run backward. 
10.    The world’s shortest highway tunnel is in Shady Valley and is merely a few feet long. 
11.    Tennessee shares its borders with eight other states, more than any other state excpept for Missiouri. The states are Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri.
12.    North America’s only fresh water pearl farm is in Camden, TN. 
13.    Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort has over five acres of man-made skiing trails, the world’s largest.
14.    The United State’s first female senator, Hattie Caraway, was from Bakersville, Tennessee. 
15.    3 US presidents called Tennessee home: Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), Andrew Johnson (1865-1869), and James Polk (1845-1849). 
16.    Established in 1779, Jonesborough is the state’s oldest town. Despite being in a slave-holding state, Jonesborough was home in 1820 to The Emancipator, the largest anti-slavery newspaper in the U.S.

Crystal Davidson, King University

School's Out - What's a Student To Do With All This Free Time??

June is a peaceful and beautiful time in Tennessee. By now, it’s gotten quite hot in the Western part of the state, but past Nashville and toward the East, the higher elevations still have some cool mornings and evenings. There are lots of fun ways to enjoy the climate and experience rich culture in this sunny part of the year:

West Tennessee

Memphis doesn't slow down during the summer! Grab a blanket, pack a picnic, and head over to Overton Park for the free Summer Concert Series that takes place every weekend, for free, at the Levitt Shell. The Levitt Shell provides a fantastic sense of community and fun for all ages. For the sports-lovers, baseball is a great American tradition to be involved in during the summer season. Ballparks, hotdogs, baseball and fireworks are the perfect combination of a fun summer day. The Memphis Redbirds have games throughout the summer- and every Thursday, college students can get in the game for $5.

On June 2nd-4th, get ready to feast on Italian food at the Memphis Italian Fest held at Holy Rosary Parish. Partake in games, music, and of course, watching food competitions. June 2nd-6th also hosts the Memphis Black Expo, saluting Egypt with family-friendly activities, music, food, and festivals. Discover and celebrate black history while meeting other members from the community! The Memphis Juneteenth Urban Music Festival will be held June 17-19, commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States. Enjoy music, dancing, food, and more.

Middle Tennessee

Nashville, otherwise known as the city of music, offers multiple music festivals in the month of June. The city is not exclusive to country music, but spans over a wide variety of genres. On June 9th-12th, people from all over Tennessee come to Nashville for live country music entertainment with the CMA Festival. If country music isn’t your style, you can head on over to Manchester for the famous Bonnaroo Music Festival, also taking place on the 9th-12th. The Vans Warped Tour, which takes place for one day only on June 29th is also another great music festival that any music fanatic would enjoy.

Outside of music and games, Nashville is home for the Parthenon in Centennial Park, the exact replica of the Greek temple, as well as many other museums. In addition, visit Nashville’s #1 Must See attraction: Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. Every Sunday from June to September, the Hermitage partakes in “Sunday LIVE!” where you get a different hands-on, interactive experience each week. Activities vary from learning to duel like Tennessee gentleman to churning butter!

Only 30 minutes outside of Nashville, in Ashland City, you can attend the annual Ashland City Summerfest. Taking place on June 7th-11th, Ashland City brings the community together through fun carnival rides, concerts, food, games, and fireworks every night. Its great entertainment for all ages!

East Tennessee

The city of Sevierville is a fantastic to place to visit in June if you want refreshing weather. Located near the Great Smoky Mountains, people have a wide range of activities to partake in.  Similarly, Knoxville offers many attractions for all ages. Particularly, on June 24th, Knoxville hosts the Kuumba Festival, celebrating African heritage all day through dance, crafts, food, and art.

In Roan Mountain, you can embrace the beauty that Tennessee offers by attending the Rhododendron Festival on June 18th-19th.  The festival celebrates the world’s largest Rhododendron garden. Come commemorate it alongside a TN National Park and peaceful streams, as well as available food and art vendors.

Save this website so you can always know the most up-to-date information on Festivals in Tennessee, year-round!

Guest Blogger: Laura Cardona, Class Of 2018, Rhodes College, Memphis