Graduate students offer insights on continuing education

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Graduate students in the sciences have at least one thing in common: they do not usually get the amount of help getting into graduate school that they might need, according to Graduate students Molly McDermott and Rachel Voight.

“When you talk to the graduate student everyone says ‘I don’t know how I got here, it’s a miracle that I got here,'” Voight said. “It’s kind of incredible to think about that there are so many graduate students and so many of us are like ‘how did I get here in the first place.'”

The motivation for the event, which will be on Tuesday, Oct. 18 from 1:30 – 3 p.m. in the Murie Auditorium, stemmed from the lack of knowledge that so many graduate student applicants have about the application process, according to Voight and McDermott. They wanted to offer more support to prospective graduate students. McDermott and Voight are co-presidents of the Biology Student Graduate Association, which is sponsoring the event.

Graduate students in various science departments will be talking about the process of selecting a graduate program, contacting potential mentors and determining the best graduate school.

The event will start out with a panel of 7 graduate students describing their experience with applying to graduate school. Then they will form breakout sessions based on their department . The students will be from Biology and Wildlife, Chemistry, Statistics, Atmospheric Sciences, Physics, Geosciences and Fisheries.

McDermott and Voight sent out surveys faculty members asking about what they look for in graduate students, mistakes graduate students make and their experience through the process.

“The big thing that we want get across is there’s no right or wrong way to get into graduate school, it’s really deciding if this is something that you want to do,” Voight said. “It’s an opportunity to figure out, ‘Is this right for me?’ It’s a lot of work and it’s a huge investment.”

“It’s not about finding a school, it’s about finding an adviser,” McDermott said. “that’s really more important than anything else because who your advisor is and what they work on is going to shape the next few years of your life.”

Graduate school is not for everyone, which is also something that the graduate students will discuss.

“There are a lot of good reasons to do something else besides graduate school and there are a lot of good reasons to wait to go to graduate school,” McDermott said.

Voight and McDermott emphasized the importance of students who are just thinking about going to graduate school to learn more. Even freshman and sophomores may need to plan their education differently depending on their decision.

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