How We Coach Students Who are Considering Graduate School

Attending graduate school is a step on the career journey for many College of Arts + Sciences students, whether it immediately follows their undergraduate education or at another point during their careers.

Upon hearing of a student’s interest in continuing education, our first step is to understand their motivations for doing so. We do not recommend graduate school for those who would like more time to explore career options, avoid a job search, or defer student loan payments. Knowing that graduate school is focused on one field, is time-intensive and is an additional financial cost, we work to support students to discern that this will be the right path towards advancement in their career.

We work with students to critically examine if graduate school aligns with their career goals, if the student has a deep and committed interest in researching or delving into a specific discipline for a master’s or Ph.D. program, and then what the student’s timeline for attending might be.
After confirming that a graduate degree will develop the competencies and experiences for advancement in a career field, we will then discuss with students their timeline for attending. For example, would full-time work or service experience immediately following obtainment of a bachelor’s degree enhance their candidacy for graduate school admittance at a later time? Does the student have the academic stamina to begin a graduate program shortly after graduation, or do they need additional time to determine whether to pursue continuing education? Is a graduate degree required for entry into a field, and therefore would be the next step?

For the approximately 26% of College undergraduate students who attend graduate school within 6 months of graduation, knowing the application timeline is important. Students can work with the Walter Center at any time to begin exploring these considerations for pursuing additional education and understanding the steps necessary to be prepared for these deadlines.

Knowing that applications are typically due a year in advance of when the student were to matriculate, we encourage students to begin much of that work during their junior year. For example, this spring, we recommend that students would have already identified programs they are considering application to, the requirements for admission, funding options, and have shared with those who will serve as recommenders their plans. Additionally, we recommend students take their entrance exams, visit schools and network with current graduate students and faculty of the programs this summer. They should be prepared to submit their applications during the fall of their senior year.

Services for those Considering Graduate School

In addition to personalized coaching and review of application materials, the Walter Center provides online resources for graduate school exploration and hosts a Graduate School Fair every fall.  

Resources for College of Arts + Sciences Graduate Students
The Walter Center also supports current IU College of Arts & Sciences graduate students. Students can schedule an appointment with a specialized career coach or attend a small group job search series offered each semester. We have also partnered with faculty to offer departmental programming for graduate students. Please contact Trevor Verrot for more information about graduate student career services. 

By Andrea White
Andrea White Associate Director, Career Education