Grads offer a glimpse of the real world
November 22, 2010 —
Sometimes, once is just not enough.
English and creative writing majors gathered to hear about the benefits of a second, advanced degree, as well as potential sacrifices necessary to continue their education.
The English Graduate Panel was headed by three professors in the English department at SVSU: Daniel Cook, Daniel Gates and Arra Ross.
The three professors began the session by sharing their personal experiences with graduate school. All said it took them about seven years to receive their Ph.D.
“It was interesting to hear about their experience,” said English literature senior Adam Haenlein. “You could tell immediately when it started that this was going to be important.”
Creative writing junior Lauren Boulton echoed Haenlein’s response.
“I’ve researched different grad schools a lot, but I’ve never had the opportunity to get a realistic glimpse of how people make it through,” said Boulton. “I thought it was very helpful.”
The professors shared their experiences with issues surrounding higher education, including the costs, risks, benefits, degrees available and application process.
The panel informed students of the options offered by schools to make their degree more affordable, including research projects, teaching assistantships, fellowships and external funding in addition to scholarships, grants and loans.
English literature senior Megan Chroninger was surprised by the information.
“I didn’t know about a lot about the funding available,” said Chroninger. “It was nice to see that graduate school isn’t impossible.”
Gates noted that the cost of graduate school can depend on many factors, including the location of the school and your own personal ability to live off a limited income.
“It is possible to get an advanced degree without going into debt,” said Gates. “It’s up to you to figure out if you can live within your means.”
A large portion of the presentation dealt with the materials necessary for a graduate school application and the ways which students can prepare for this process. The main components for an application are a writing sample, personal statement, undergraduate grade point average, letters of recommendation and GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score.
Gates explained that while all components are important to the application process, an exceptional score on the GRE can often be a foot in the door.
“Admissions committees often have a minimum score in mind,” he said. “You want to be above that score.”
Cook said that a strong application and GRE score can be especially important for consideration from graduate schools because of SVSU’s small size.
“Although you’ve all been in a strong program, most places you apply will have hardly ever heard of SVSU,” he said. “You’ve got to find ways to equalize the playing field.”
Students who attended the panel were encouraged to visit the professors to further discuss their futures, an offer that many of the students were glad to hear.
“Our English faculty is stellar at providing support for their students,” said Haenlein. “It really helps to have that support system.”