Archive for the Graduate School Category

Requesting Strong Letters of Recommendation

Posted on November 20, 2014 with No Comments

Letter of Recommendation

Applying for a job or internship?  In most cases, employers will call your references.  For most other competitive opportunities, chances are you will need strong and descriptive letters of recommendation to help set you apart from other applicants.

Think you might apply to graduate or professional school, or for a national fellowship? Letters of recommendation will be critical to your candidacy.  You might even need letters well before you graduate, i.e. for a summer research grant or enhancement program.  The bottom line: you need to cultivate strong references while you are at UVM, and the sooner, the better.

Professors expect to write letters, but it’s your responsibility to give them something to write.  Ask good questions, and contribute to the conversations in class. Stop by office hours to clarify course material or revisit an interesting topic. Multiple contexts can also help.  Take another class with a professor you enjoyed. If you distinguish yourself, you might be asked to serve as a TA, or assist with their research if that genuinely interests you.

Consider this before asking for a letter:

  • What if any specific guidelines are provided?
  • Who could make a convincing case you are a strong fit based on direct observations of you in class, on the job, in the lab, etc.
  • A letter writer’s title can be impressive, but it is their details that count.  Don’t sacrifice the latter for the former.
  • Avoid personal (aka subjective) references.
  • Still not sure who to ask?  Seek advising.
  • Graduate School . Medical/Dental School . Fellowships . Research

Help Them Help You:

Ask, “Do you think you could write a strong recommendation for me?”  If they can’t, you want to know this outright so you can avoid bland, vague or mediocre letters.  When you get the “yes,” ask if they need other information.  Be sure to provide clear directions for submission, and plenty of lead-time.

Lastly, don’t forget to thank them.  Better yet, let them know how it all turns out.

~ Faith

6 Steps to Finding the Grad School for You

Posted on September 18, 2014 with No Comments

Graduation caps in the sky

If your graduate school search involves typing some buzzwords into Google with hopes of generating a condensed list of programs of interest, you will be pleased to know there are more efficient ways to research your options.

Although a basic Internet search can be a great way to begin, most people find the pure volume of information to be overwhelming. Here are 6 ways to tailor your search:

1. Ask professors, staff and graduate students in your field of interest. You’ll not only be able to learn about their own search process but they’re likely to give you recommendations of programs that fit your personal and professional goals.

2. Connect to professionals doing work that excites you. These folks have “been there, done that” and offer lessons from their own careers.

3. Research professional associations. Many provide graduate school advice and search resources.

4. Search online graduate school databases. Use these sites to conduct advanced searches that allow you to filter on criteria such as location and type of degree.

5. Visit your local library. Libraries often have books and catalogs about specific programs and preparing for graduate school.

6. Speak directly to admissions coordinators at schools of interest. Websites are helpful but they never tell the full story. Ask questions and make an impression.

One bonus option: Attend this year’s Grad School Fair on Monday, September 29 from 3-5 pm. You’ll be able to accomplish many of the steps listed above and increase your confidence!

~Ashley Michelle

Taking the Grad School Search Offline

Posted on September 26, 2013 with No Comments

Facebook is Killing Meaningfull Communication comic

When students come to the Career Center to discuss their graduate school search, we find that the conversation frequently starts from one of two places. Either students are looking for tools to begin their online search or have researched some programs online and are not sure what’s next.

There is undoubtedly an important role for the Internet in any graduate school search, but there’s an equally important place for conversations with admissions representatives that can help to illuminate information that will not soon be found on a school or program’s website.

It can be scary to consider talking to someone who may ultimately be evaluating your application, but you also want to equip yourself with as much information as you can get before making the all too important decisions about which schools to apply to and which school to attend.

Also, there are real advantages to having a phone or in-person conversation with an admissions representative. You can use such a conversation to express your interest in their program, which may give your application a boost. And by preparing ahead of time and demonstrating high levels of professionalism, you can further impress your schools of interest.

Unsure what type of questions to ask as you continue your graduate school search process? Here are a few ideas to get you started. Continue the conversation by speaking with a Career Counselor during our Drop-In Hours at the Career + Experience Hub in the Davis Center.

Need an opportunity to practice these conversations? Visit the UVM Grad School Fair on Monday, September 30, 2013 from 3:00-5:00 pm in the Livak Ballroom, Davis Center, to speak directly with graduate school representatives.

~Ashley Michelle

To Go or Not to Go: Considering Graduate School

Posted on September 27, 2012 with No Comments

Sunset Crossroads

There are lots of reasons why people choose to go to graduate schools and pursue advanced degrees.  Deciding to go is a complex decision that involves the outlook for increased earnings and deepened learning in a field of study.  Although there are a plethora of reasons why to go, we’ll explore a few good reasons why not to go to graduate school.

An article called “The Five Worst Reasons to Go to Grad School” provides some useful tips for when to avoid graduate school.  Here are the five reasons, paraphrased:

1.  To Fill a Personal Void

You are more than your degrees.  Graduate school is great for people who find their zest from studying particular topics in-depth but doesn’t tend to be an effective patch for the holes in one’s life.

2.  For bragging rights

Graduate school is a hefty undertaking, and it will take time and money.  There are cheaper ways to obtain a positive reputation.

3.  Buying your way into a network

You will join a new network if you go to graduate school, but you are likely already a part of many networks (including the UVM community) and these will grow throughout your career, with or without graduate school.

4.  It’s the only way to get a job

Some jobs do require advanced degrees and some prefer them.  But there are lots of career opportunities for people with Bachelor’s degrees.  Employers want dedicated and skilled workers, and those skills can be developed in a plethora of ways.

5. It’s what to do when you’re lacking direction

Graduate school is not the place to discover your life’s path or career journey.  The strongest graduate school candidate’s know what they want to study and why.  Not with meticulous detailed measure, necessarily, but enough to have a vision for where the process might lead.

Ultimately, the decision to go to graduate school should be based on much reflection and consideration and it is yours to make.  To learn more about the ins and outs of considering and applying to graduate school, visit the Career Services website.

~Ashley Michelle

Navigating Your Way to the Right Law School

Posted on September 20, 2012 with No Comments

Law Balance in the Sky

Finding the right law school can be a daunting task. You must weigh the costs and benefits of earning a J.D. as well as determine what will make your law school experience fulfilling. Examine the following important areas:

Evaluate specialty, experience and training opportunities

Specialized courses, clinics and professional skills training opportunities tailored to your interests can provide valuable knowledge and lay the foundation for your legal career.  Learn about which schools provide valuable hands-on experiences, allowing you to work with clients and practicing attorneys.

These opportunities, are ideal for discovering your passion, honing your skills, and making connections with future employers.  Think about where and in what field you will want to practice after graduation.

Professional guidance and support

Look at a school’s available resources that you will  utilize throughout your experience, including the number and type of student groups as well as career services such as career fairs and alumni networks.  When thinking about future employment, be sure to look at the school’s employment statistics for graduates to see what type of work they tend to pursue.

Evaluate financial assistance options side-by-side with tuition and fees

When considering law school, cost should be a top priority.  Law school is not cheap and often requires large student loans.  Be realistic!  Assess your financial situation and determine the availability of aid as well as repayment options after graduation.

Check out Equal Justice Works Guide to Law Schools, which allows you to examine a school’s available curricula, financial aid options, and staff and faculty engagement.

Radhika Singh Miller, guest blogger, serves as program manager of educational debt relief and outreach at Equal Justice Works

You can find more resources and information on the Career Services Considering Pre-Law and Applying to Law School pages.

Also, don’t miss the Law School Panel: Mon, Sept 24th 4-5:30pm. Davis Center, Jost Foundation Room!

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