Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What your Library can do to help YOU get into Grad School!

My apologies for being just a few days "overdue" with this one. I'll now wrap up my series on graduate school planning with some wisdom from our head of reference, Karen Preslock!

At the graduate school workshop this semester, Ms. Preslock emphasized the library's strength in research. Over and over again the panelists referred to the importance of research when applying to graduate school: research the major; research the job market; research the school, the program and the faculty; research financial aid. Well, if you need help with that research, come to us! We have books to help you every step of the process.

Ms. Preslock offered three pieces of advice to keep in mind: Never say never, ditch your preconceived notions (for example, did you know that financial hardship is more common among undergraduates than among graduate students?), and become well-informed. Knowledge, she pointed out, is power.

Ms. Preslock offered several starting points for your research, including your library's own Delicious page for student success. This page has links some of the best sites for graduate school research that we've found.

One of the best sites we've found, Ms. Preslock said (and I agree), is EducationPlanner.com. This site is full of tips on every stage of the process, from selecting a college to applying to it and paying for it. Sample topics include writing a killer essay, application dos and don'ts, and why NOT to choose a school.

Another place to look would be the Web sites of professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association or the American Bar Association. Many of these organizations offer special reduced membership rates for students. Join the organization, find an active chapter in your area and attend the meetings. You'll make great contacts in your field and be privy to some of the newest information out there. Also, these organizations often have information on scholarships, grands and funding opportunities for their members.

If you're going to go the Google route, Ms. Preslock recommended Google's advanced searches to help you narrow your results to the most precise information you need. You can research programs which match your interests and qualifications. You can research scholarships to the specific colleges you're considering. As an example, Ms. Preslock did a search for federal money for education. Did you know that many federal agencies will repay your student loans if you work for them? Check out the Web sites for agencies like the Veterans' Administration or the Census Bureau. Learn about the careers available. Some sites offer virtual job shadowing. Search current federal job openings at www.usajobs.gov.

Often the best way to secure an internship and get a foot in the door is to contact the staff person with whom you're interested in working, and see if they're interested in working with you. Don't be afraid to ask!

And if you need help with your research, don't be afraid to ask a librarian--or indeed, anyone here at Reinhardt. We're here for you!

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