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Wilson Prepares Students for Graduate School Careers

Byline: Xiaomeng Li

Posted: October 19, 2010

On Monday, Oct. 4, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Rochel Gelman from Rutgers University, together with Prof. Larry Shillock, Prof. Kay Ackerman and Prof. Aimee-Marie Dorsten, had a panel session discussing graduate school plans with interested students.

This workshop attracted students from all class standings. The panelists shared with students their suggestions on graduate school applications and whether graduate school is the best option for them.

The Personal Statement--Not so Personal

Dorsten talked about the personal statement in the application process. She mentioned that a potential student should show graduate programs what she can offer them rather than what the program can offer her. "This shift in perspective is very important," said Dorsten. She also stressed the importance of taking a leadership role through extracurricular programs such as club activities during the four-year undergraduate education.

Shillock said that, "you should be paid to go to grad school," emphasizing the large possibility for students to apply for fellowship or a teaching assistantship. He also suggested that students ask the admission office about the program's graduation rate and the job placement statistics for graduate students once they complete their advanced degree.

Love for What You'll Do

Ackerman stressed that, "you really need to love what you are doing if you are going to grad school." She explained that although going to graduate school is a choice for some students after finishing their bachelor's degree, it is not wise to figure out whether you like graduate school or not while you are in there because graduate study is not easy.

Finally, Gelman, Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Science at Rutgers University, told the students that to apply for a program, one needs to let the admission office know what research she has done. One also needs to research about the program and know what it is all about.

"Grad schools want to know if you love your subject and whether you take pleasure from your study," said Gelman. In addition, she mentioned several organizations that are usually generous in helping students financially, "For American citizens, the federal scholarship deadline is coming." Foundations such as the National Science Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation and many other outside scholarships are also available for students to apply.

Tips on Getting Letters of Recommendation

The letter of recommendation, which is another essential part of graduate school application, Gelman said that, "it is extremely important because you want them to know that you have done something." She suggested students to give some bullet points for the faculty about what they want them to include in the recommendation letter. "It is totally ethical to ask your professor if she's going to write a ‘good' letter for you," added Dorsten.

Students' Reaction to Grad School Panel

Teslote Eyob Tadesse '11, a senior who majors in International Business and Management, thinks that the workshop "was both informative and intermediating. On one hand it provided me insight on the grad school application process; and on the other hand it informed me what the key factors in my application that a graduate admission is looking for."

Jennifer Fisher '11, a Fine Arts major, thinks "the panel was fair and the information on the resources was helpful." However, she also points out that, "the panel made many assumptions about the type of people who were going to grad school, i.e., left out the adult learner. The comment about students who have changed disciplines was uncalled for. Our education journeys are ever-changing. As Prof. Bob Dickson pointed out, not everyone knows what they want to be when they first enter college and it is possible to successfully complete several different degrees in different interests."

Last Updated: September 25, 2011

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