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Fall Faculty Retreat

Advising on Careers and Graduate School

Discussion Leaders:

Leslie Meek, Psychology
Jon Anderson, Statistics

Start with a good undergraduate program that prepares students well for graduate school. Contact graduate schools and previous graduates for feedback on strengths and weaknesses of undergraduate program. Graduate school is training in research, many fields benefit from additional statistics courses in their undergraduate program. Start planning early, to receive financial aid need to apply in December of year before entry to graduate school. For a complete application the GRE or some other examination will need to be taken in the spring or summer in the year prior to entry. Thus, a lot of activity is done in the "Junior" year. Discuss the possibility of graduate school early in a student's career. A key to admission and financial aid is to have effective recommendation letters. These typically include something specific or important about the student. Important things that could be mentioned are course projects, undergraduate research projects, and personal stories. Write something that makes the student stand out from the rest of the applications.

Questions from the group:

Q: Should it be the advisors role to suggest graduate school?
A: Yes, among other people like other instructors etc.

Q: At what stage should an advisor suggest students go to grad school?
A: As early as possible, but the junior year at the latest because of GRE and financial aid application processes.

Q: How can I pay for this, will I be in debt forever?
A: A good graduate school appointment (in most disciplines) includes financial aid and a tuition waiver. Additional debt should be minimal.

Q: How to balance student goals when not very realistic?
A: Can suggest a mid or low tier graduate school to gain experience. Can also suggest additional prep coursework at the undergraduate level for preparation. Also may need to just tell them that you don't thing graduate school is a good idea for them. Some fields require that students work for a few years before considering grad school. This may be an option for questionable students.

Q: How do you write a letter for a poor student?
A: A difficult problem. Can simply refuse, we all have had to do this or suggest some of the preparation steps suggested above.

Additional Questions not addressed at the workshop:

Q: Students weaseling out of calculus when they are going to need it down the line?

Q: Students need for career info is often marginalized by the institution and some faculty?

Q: Lack of advice on choosing a school?

Q: Students expecting me to do extensive research on individual schools?

A: Not faculty job, provide some starting points and resources and send them on their way.

Q: How much does the class of 2002 influence what the class of 2003 does? Do peers have more influence or faculty in whether students go to graduate school?

Q: Having a student constantly change their mind about career choice?

Q: Finding the right fit of which grad school is best for students?

Q: Suggesting the right career path for a student? How do you get information out there?

Q: Students don't listen or believe you about grad school do's and don'ts?

Q: Scheduling the GRE, do they need to take subject test for their specialty area?

A: This depends on the department and grad school. Do a survey of procedures for the schools in the subject area and come up with a decision that is reasonable for most.