As a rising senior, from George Mason University, I’m getting a lot of pressure from my family, friends, and colleagues to figure out “what I want to do with my life” post-graduation. Do I want to work right away, apply to graduate school, apply to law school, do a mission with the Peace Corps — the options seem endless, but what is the “right” choice? In the workshop session “Secrets of Getting into Grad School,” Rachel DiCaro Mitscher from the Princeton Review helped students figure out the next steps of their life after their undergraduate graduation.
Rachel helped attendees break down some key questions for deciding whether they should go to grad school or not. Her questions included whether grad school was practical (in terms of funding, scholarships, loans) and whether attendees thought they could get a job afterward (i.e., what companies are recruiting from the programs you are looking into).
Additionally, many times there is an emphasis on a “name,” like Harvard or Yale, but Rachel explained that finding a grad school is like finding a glove that fits just right. Just because you may get into a school like Harvard or Yale, doesn’t mean that’s the right school for you. You may have preferred a smaller setting with less students, and, in the end, although you may have a degree, being miserable might not have been worth it it. Rachel explained how it was important to find a school that felt right to you, somewhere you believed you could expand intellectually and personally to be a better all-around person.
Finally, Rachel gave us timelines and tips for looking at and considering grad schools. She said to know the school, go and visit the school, call them up and talk to someone — try to talk to a student — about the positives and negatives of a school. Don’t waste your money on applications if you would not even considering going to the school. Know deadlines and submit your application way before it; choose wisely, and start your application months in advance. Ultimately, it’s also important to make sure graduate school is what you want to do, and it better help you find a job.
Rachel’s vast knowledge about graduate school and law school combined with her bubbly personality helped the students in the workshop have a better grasp on what to do and how to do it in order to get into grad school. She encouraged students to not hesitate about thinking about their next steps in life — begin now! Finally, she reminded the women that we are what we allow ourselves to become, and we must be proactive in making our future brighter!
This post is by Amanda-Rae Barboza, NASPA intern. Amanda-Rae studies Government and International Affairs at George Mason University.