Friday, October 9, 2009

Grad school workshops help you put your best foot forward

Last week a panel of faculty and staff members, headed by Director of the Center for Student Success Dr. Catherine Emanuel, convened on the third floor of the library to give Reinhardt undergrads some great advice about planning (and paying) for graduate school. I know those who attended got a lot out of it. If you weren't able to make it, don't despair. They are planning to have another one in the spring. Not to mention the great thing about Reinhardt is that these experts are always available to help you, if you just take advantage of the resources they have!

Incidentally, there was another graduate school workshop last spring. If you didn't have the chance to attend that one, I blogged about it here.

Last week, the overwhelming themes of the panel speakers were research and communication. Research the schools, research the programs, research the people in the program, and then communicate with them so you know how best to present yourself. There are people out there willing to help you, if you know where to look and how to ask. (Some of the people who want to help were the ones sitting on the panel).

Brandi Berger, Records and Registration Coordinator, gave the nuts-and-bolts of how to use the Registrar's Office when applying to graduate school. They're the ones who have your college transcripts. There is a fee of $5 for each official transcript you request. The Registrar's Office can mail the transcripts for you, but you have to let them know where to send it, what the deadline is, and if there are any particular forms which need to be included. The Registrar's Office can mail the transcript to you, but you have to be sure not to open it--a transcript is only official if it is sealed. If you are still an undergraduate, most graduate programs will require two transcripts--one current one, and one after all of your courses have been completed. Usually your degree from Reinhardt is conferred a couple of weeks after graduation, but if you need your transcript sooner than that, let the Registrar's Office know.

Director of Career Services Peggy Collins spoke of how their office can help you evaluate your own strengths and goals when choosing a future career, and also talked about some web sites that show which college majors and degrees best prepare you for which jobs. On the Career Services section of Reinhardt's web site, there are links to sites which show you in more detail what a graduate school application looks like.

"The process you go through when applying to graduate school parallels the process of looking for a job," Ms. Collins said. The cover letter is extremely important. It is your opportunity to sell yourself. You want to show your accomplishments and what you have to offer, why the program should choose you over someone else. Graduate school is highly competitive.

Before applying to a graduate program, it's imperative to research both the school and the industry thoroughly. If you're interested in a particular profession, you should talk to people who are in that profession and see if that's really what you want to do with your life, Ms. Collins suggested. Ask the person if he or she would choose that particular field today, and why or why not.

Know your future plans and have an idea of what you want to do with your degree when you get it. Research the school. Talk to your professors, and talk to the professors and the students in the program you're considering. Manners count too--don't forget to send a thank-you note! You never know when somebody will be influential in your future, and you always want to leave a good impression.

To Be Continued Next Week... stay tuned for advice from Reinhardt professors, from Reinhardt's own graduate programs, and from Public Services Librarian Karen Preslock!

Have a good weekend!

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