I/O Program Culture
Grad school is a busy time of life. Much of your time is spent in class, at your practicum site, reading, studying, and conducting research. However students at Florida Tech manage to sneak a little fun into their professional lives, and a lot of fun into their time away from the program. Your day is likely to start with coffee, then class.
Classes are taught Monday-Thursday mostly during business hours (9-5). Occasionally a class outside the department will be offered at night. Classes are usual taught in 3 hour blocks, and start ay 9:30. On average, I/O classes have between 5 and 12 students. The style of class differs across professors. Some faculty lecture more while others hold seminar style classes. Regardless of the type of class, it is necessary to have your articles and chapters read and be prepared to respond to questions.
Getting ready for class takes much more time than the actual class. After class is usually one of the best times for meetings. Much of your time in grad school is spent in meetings! The courses at Florida Tech have a lot of group projects to get students acclimated to working in a team environment. With an average of three classes a semester working on group projects, successful students develop good good time management skills. Coordinating meeting times, processes, and deliverable dates with 6-10 classmates can be frustrating to incoming students who haven't worked in a team environment before, but it is a great way to learn and produce high quality projects.
On a day off from class you can still keep pretty busy. Florida is a great place to live if you like the outdoors. The beach is only 5 miles away from the university. The beaches are mostly sand bottom (except in satellite beach) and aren't crowded. The beach is great for surfing, fishing, swimming, or just getting a little sun. The university is even closer to the Indian River, which divides beachside from the mainland. The river is great for kayaking or boating as well as windsurfing and kite boarding. There are a variety of boat tours including deep sea fishing and airboat rides through the swamp near St John's river.
Studying takes up the majority of a grad student's time at Florida Tech. The amount of reading increases dramatically from undergrad, so keeping up with readings for class is challenging. Exams are less frequent than they were in undergrad classes, but cover much more material. Students may study 60 hours for an exam, so midterms and finals can be a very stressful time. On top of that, many classes require papers, which can mean many additional hours reading empirical articles and book chapters. Plan on reading and studying an average of 4-5 hours a day (during normal class times, not during testing periods).
Research team meetings & data collection often happen in the evenings. Students who are working on theses, dissertations, or independent research, all work together on the FIT research teams. This team philosophy allows the team to utilize a rich source of feedback and capitalize on the combined problem solving capabilities of the individual members. Team members assist each other in collecting data, which maximizes the data collecting capabilities of individual researchers, and results in more publications. However these benefits aren't without costs. Our research teams often operate well into the evening hours.
Finally, at the end of a long day, you can relax a bit. Melbourne is a sleepy beach town, but the students manage to manufacture a little night time entertainment. Students often spend time at each others houses/apartments or hit the town to stir up a little action. While Melbourne isn't Manhattan, there doesn't seem to be much of a shortage of good times.
When you work so hard in close collaboration with other students you build a special bond with them. The friends you make in grad school will likely be friends you have for life.