Graduate School is a Job

 

If you’re planning to go to grad school, you may get a chuckle at all your friends working so hard to prepare themselves for the job market. Fortunately, you don’t have to be bothered with such trivialities for many years – you’re going to grad school.

 

Well, guess what? Graduate school is a job.

 

While there are many obvious differences (especially financial) between taking a full-time job and attending grad school, the selection process is similar in many ways. It turns out that the same characteristics that would make you a desirable candidate for a job are valued by graduate programs as well.

 

If you are planning to apply to a graduate program, you may want to check out an application well before (like a couple years before) you actually apply. Although you might expect a master’s program in history to be most interested in your academic background, especially in history courses, you’ll see the program’s application also asks about your extracurricular and work experiences. And if an interview is required, the discussion will definitely go well beyond your grades.

 

Keep in mind that graduate programs are often very selective, so they can look not just for strong students, but strong students who are well-rounded and who will add to the character of the program in other ways. Many graduate programs involve teaching assistant responsibilities, favoring candidates who can demonstrate Leadership and Communication skills. And applied programs such as business schools accept very few students who have not worked for two or more years.

 

The bottom like is that whether you’re headed for the job market or on to more education, you will be evaluated against other talented candidates, and while an impressive GPA is a great qualification, it will rarely compensate for a lack of other activities or skills. Think of grad schools as a job, work on achieving college success and building your background accordingly, and you’ll greatly enhance your chances of being accepted.

Avoid the Dreaded Social Section

It’s not your fault, you’re only human. Humans are social creatures, naturally drawn to other humans for comfort, camaraderie, and amusement. So it’s only natural that you’re drawn to the social center of the library.

Every library has one. You know where it is. Everybody knows where it is, and that’s the problem. It’s the section of the library where you go to make sure you don’t miss anything. It’s the dreaded social section. Read more

Meet your Professor Face to Face

Yeah right. You’re going to give up a free hour to walk all the way across campus to talk to Professor Thickglasses during his office hours? Very funny.

If you could get students to be honest on this subject, you’d find that most fall somewhere between intimidated and afraid when it comes to attending office hours. And there are some reasonable explanations for these feelings. For starters, Professor Thickglasses is a national expert o the subject area and you know next to nothing about it.

Sure, it makes sense to be a bit intimidated, but it really makes a lot more sense to tromp across campus and take advantage of the opportunity that office hours presents. There are many good reasons to visit old Thickglasses. First of all, he can help you better understand the class material. Swing by, introduce yourself, and ask a couple questions, before you’re totally lost. Professors teach because they enjoy sharing their knowledge. A sincere question from you shows interest and initiative, not ignorance.

Beyond clearing up academic issues, you can also develop a positive relationship with your instructor. Yes, professors have been scientifically proven to be actual human beings. Even those who are not dynamic in the classroom can be pretty darn interesting on a face-to-face basis. Getting to know a prof can have other significant benefits. First off, you may earn yourself a bit of “benefit of the doubt.” Thickglasses might be more inclined to toss you an extra point or two if your grade is on the border between A and B.

Maybe more importantly, professors have great connections and contacts. Many act as as consultants in their off-time. Thickglasses may be able to steer you to a former student, client or colleague who could help you find a job, internship or research position. If nothing else, you can always use a solid letter of recommendation.

Go ahead. Go see Thickglasses.

Does College Choice Affect College Success?

Senior year of high school is supposed to be fun, and it will be, but you are probably thinking about college too. The decision is not looming yet, but it is on your radar. You know you have to get applications done before winter break, but you wonder if your choice of where to apply (and ultimately attend) will affect your success in college.

Of course, your college choice will affect your college success, but maybe not in the ways you would think. If you want to be a meteorologist and the school that you go to does not have one class in meteorology, then that is a problem. You set a goal as defining college success as setting up yourself for a career in meteorology, but no matter what your grades or extracurricular activities look like, you are hurting yourself in terms of your long-term career goals. But generally, it does not matter where you go, but rather what you do while you are there (and I would even add what you do with your degree when you get out).

I know it is easier said than done, but many who have gone before you have done it and so can you. Take some time to evaluate what you want out of college and make a list of those criteria. Don’t apply to schools that won’t allow you to meet those goals for a college environment, even if that means you and your boyfriend/girlfriend have to go to different schools. You may even have to sit down with your parents and explain that you cannot go to the school they would choose for you because it is your choice and you need to be happy with it.

If you work hard and follow the advice in “Making College Count” you can achieve college success wherever you choose to go. And there are successful graduates from every college in the nation. So the pressure is off—make your list and fill out your applications. No matter where you go, whether a big state school or a small private school, you can achieve college success!

Life is a Sport

From intramural athletics to extracurricular activities to group case study classes and in-class team projects, it seems that everywhere you turn, you’re asked to interact with other students. The truth is, more than ever, life is a team sport. Whether it be in college or the world of work, teamwork is current trend. Given this, recruiters today are looking for candidates with Group Skills for their organizations. It’s one of the Winning Characteristics upon which interviewers make hiring decisions, so you’ll want to be able to prove to them that you are strong in this area.

Extracurriculars are an excellent way to develop and sharpen your Group Skills. They almost always involve teams of students working together over a number of months to complete large, complex projects. The key here is that if you’re going to develop and be able to demonstrate that you have Group Skills, you’ll need to go a step beyond just joining the organization. You’re going to have to actually get involved after you do.
Fortunately, if you pick an activity that you’re genuinely interested in, from theater to student government, you’ll enjoy the experience rather than considering it work. You’ll learn from the interaction with the more experienced members who will be managing the projects. And, if you do a good job, you’ll earn the respect of others in the group, giving yourself the opportunity to take a leadership role in the organization. Leadership is another of the Winning Characteristics.

So, get involved and get a head start toward getting the job you want.

Get Up and Go for College Success

 

There are very few things in life in which the difference between success and failure comes down to simply showing up. Just “being there” doesn’t typically get it done.

 

College is one of the places where “showing up” can make the difference for achieving college success. The reason for this is that many students don’t make it to class on a consistent basis. Given that, you can actually gain a “competitive advantage” relative to most by consistently going to class – by just physically being there.

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New Semester’s Resolutions

So you are back for another semester.  You have made your New Year’s Resolutions to exercise more, eat less late night pizza, get together with old friends more often, and call your mom at least once a week.  But what resolutions are you making that will help you toward your college success?  The book Making College Count contains great tips and tricks to help you through a new semester, so get the book today!  (It also makes a great high school graduation gift for your friends about to join you as collegians.)  But until your book comes in, here are some resolutions you can make to help you on your journey to college success. Read more

Popcorn Can Lead to College Success

 

A mentor of mine tells the story of when she was in college and how her friends knew exactly what was best for her at one point while she was in college. I thought I would share this story to give you some perspective on the importance of maintaining a school/work/personal life balance.

 

My mentor, Sally let’s call her, was the quintessential overachieving college student. She served in the student government, held leadership positions is numerous campus organizations, had wonderful grades, and everyone loved her. It is the college experience anyone hopes for. But with this fury of activity taking up most of her time, it seemed that she did not have any time for herself.

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New Habits for a New Year

Before the academic year gets too far along, this is a perfect time to make some “new year resolutions.” What adjustments can you make to make the year really count?

Here are some resolutions to help you Make College Count:

  • I will go to all my classes, even the early ones.
  • I will study between classes.
  • I will learn what resources are in the library and how to find and use them.
  • I will stay away from the television set.
  • I will make a concerted effort to get involved in several extracurricular activities early in the year.
  • I will make my study time count by studying in the quietest, least distracting setting I can find.
  • I will learn as much about the internet as a business tool as I can.
  • I will record all of my assignments and exams in my planner so I can foresee and survive the “crunch times.”
  • I will get to know my professors.
  • I will have a great time socially, but not so great that my college record suffers.
  • I will avoid all-nighters because they create more problems than they solve.
  • I will add at least one meaningful “success story” to my resume every semester.
  • I will learn about the career placement center long before senior year.
  • I will be the first person I know to look for a good summer job.
  • I will read at least one major newspaper or new magazine on a regular basis.
  • I will Make College Count.

Winter Break

You have finally finished exams and your holiday shopping, and you are on your way home for great food and relaxation. In fact, you could be categorized as a professional at this. You catch up on all the sleep you missed throughout the semester, you get together with high school friends, you watch tons of TV shows and movies, and read your favorite magazines. But your winter break needs to be much more than this! Here are some additional things you should be doing over the break:

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