Survey of Current Graduate Students

graduate students

Our focus at Gradschoolmatch is to solve the problems graduate students and programs face in creating their perfect graduate school match. This entails taking a data-driven approach to understand the graduate school search and admission process comprehensively. To deepen our understanding of the prospective graduate student experience, we’ve just conducted a random, national survey of current graduate students to assess what they experience in finding, applying to, and choosing a graduate program.

Finding a national sample of current graduate students is trickier than you’d first imagine. We randomly selected 20 universities from a pool of 450 institutions. This larger pool awards 90% of all doctoral degrees and half of all masters each year in the US. For each university in our sample we asked graduate Deans and program administrators to disseminate our survey to their graduate students. Five of the 20 universities accommodated our request and distributed our survey to their graduate student bodies.

Our survey instrument is comprised of 44 questions. The survey was sent to over 20,000 graduate students and we received a total of 1445 responses for a response rate of ~7%. The participating institutions and the fraction of students from each responding to the survey are shown in the figure.

The data provide several important insights into the wants and needs of prospective graduate students. In particular, our results highlight where opportunities exist for graduate programs to better connect with prospective students and improve their recruiting outcomes.

Over the next several weeks we will be highlighting our findings on the blog. Keep on the lookout for our next blog post on the demographics of our sample!

 

 

Check out the other articles on our current graduate student survey:

Graduate Student Survey – Demographics and Fields of Study

Students Don’t Apply to Many Graduate Programs

Getting Into Grad School – How to Improve Your Chances

Are Grad Students Happy?

How to Choose the RIGHT Graduate School

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Fordham University Graduate Programs Spotlight

Fordham University is a private research university that’s known for outstanding graduate programs across multiple schools, from business to arts and sciences.

With around 6,500 postgraduates spread across three New York campuses, Fordham’s graduate schools provide students with global opportunities, in addition to the best of the largest city in the United States.

Gradschoolmatch recently spoke with Lauren Grizzaffi, Recruiting and Marketing Specialist for Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Here’s an inside look at how Fordham uses Gradschoolmatch to recruit the best and brightest students for almost 20 different graduate programs on Gradschoolmatch.com.

GSM: What are some of your overall goals as the Recruiting and Marketing Specialist for Graduate Programs in Arts and Sciences at Fordham?

Lauren: Our main goal is to strengthen and promote new and existing Master’s programs within Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). We have been working to recover from a downturn in graduate enrollment, and are promoting the many benefits throughout our various Master’s degrees to bring recognition to the graduate programs within Fordham University.

GSM: What graduate programs are Fordham actively recruiting for using Gradschoolmatch.com?

Lauren: We currently have 18 GSAS programs on the site. Here’s a look at a few of the diverse programs in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences that are actively recruiting students on Gradschoolmatch.com.

Masters in Applied Psychological Methods

The Applied Psychological Methods Master’s Program explores how psychological theories and research can generate solutions to real world problems, with two available specialized tracks.

 

Masters in Ethics and Society

This cross-disciplinary program provides a foundation in the moral frameworks of philosophy, theology, psychology, bioethics, and social justice and is further tailored to your individual interests and career goals with electives.

 

Masters in Urban Studies

The Urban Studies Master’s Program offers a humanistic, interdisciplinary study of the city and urban society. Students tackle complex issues confronting urban policy makers, including urban communities, economic development, inequality and social justice, and environment and sustainability.

 

Sign up on Gradschoolmatch to see all of  Fordham’s graduate programs here.

GSM: What are some of the opportunities that Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences provides for students to be successful?

Lauren: This past year, Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences established a new professional development initiative, GSAS Futures, to provide the support, resources and training opportunities to prepare our students for innovative careers after graduate school. Our mission is to ensure that graduate students possess the skills and knowledge that will allow them to leverage their vocational training and academic experience in a professional setting.

We’ve hosted a CV/resume workshop, an alumni panel, and a seminar on how to apply for external grants and fellowships.

fordham university gsas
An expert panel on grant writing hosting by GSAS Futures

GSM: Why is Fordham a great place to go to graduate school?

Lauren: We participate fully in the life of New York City, fostering partnerships for scholarship and research with other institutions in the city. Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is a great place to earn a graduate degree as it has two main campuses in New York – the majestic Rose Hill campus in the north Bronx and our Lincoln Center campus in close proximity to Columbus Circle and Central Park. With its prime location, our graduate students have the option of working or interning in the heart of New York City.

In addition, we have cultivated a variety of partnerships that have deemed very beneficial to our students, including the Bronx Science Consortium. The consortium partners with Fordham University, the New York Botanical Garden, Wildlife Conservation Society – Bronx Zoo, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Montefiore Hospital.

GSAS students presenting research at the Bronx Science Consortium Poster Symposium at the Bronx Zoo
GSAS students presenting research at the Bronx Science Consortium Poster Symposium at the Bronx Zoo

GSM: How has Gradschoolmatch been a valuable tool to engage with potential applicants and drive applicant traffic?

Lauren: Gradschoolmatch has been one of our first chances to promote all Master’s programs via the same platform at the same time. We have welcomed the opportunity to have hands-on collaboration from each department so that they can share unique program highlights with students, feature specific application requirements, and engage with potential students in a way that we have not been able to before.


For more information on Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, visit their website here.

You can also connect with Fordham GSAS on social media through their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Gradschoolmatch Survey

In order to better serve and understand both prospective graduate students and graduate program administrators on our site, Gradschoolmatch is conducting a survey of current graduate students.

Michelle Giddens, an intern serving as our newest member of the Gradschoolmatch team and a current 5th year Neuroscience Ph.D. student at Emory University, has been working hard to develop and implement this survey.

Michelle got involved with Gradschoolmatch because of her passion for helping prospective graduate students in their program search.

As a double major in biology and psychology, Michelle decided to pursue her interest in research and the brain through a cognitive psychology graduate program.  As a student in her Senior year of college, Michelle was overwhelmed and confused by the process of finding and applying to graduate school. During the interview process, Michelle spent a lot of time of talking to students and faculty about their daily activities and the nature of their work and she realized that her interests were much more aligned with a biological approach to studying the brain. With this revelation, Michelle decided to turn down her offers from the cognitive psychology programs and instead build her resume with work in the field of neuroscience while she prepared to apply to neuroscience graduate programs. Michelle used what she learned from her previous application experience to seek out the right schools, ultimately deciding on Emory University for her Ph.D. program.

Read some of Michelle’s tips from what she learned during the application process, as well as more about the Gradschoolmatch survey and the benefits it will provide for our users.

 

How did you get involved with Gradschoolmatch?

I met TJ Murphy, one of the co-founders of Gradschoolmatch, through the department of Pharmacology at Emory. I contacted TJ about Gradschoolmatch because I have so much advice that I would give my prospective graduate student self. I want to make sure that prospective graduate students can learn from the collective experience that current graduate students have, so they too can look back and be happy with the program they chose.

 

What is the most valuable lesson you learned from the grad school application process?

To be open minded to a lot of different possibilities. A coworker had recommended Emory to me when I was looking for neuroscience programs. I had never heard of Emory and was not too keen on moving to the south. However, the application was free and the breadth of faculty was unmatched so I applied. Thankfully I fell into the right program because I took a few risks, and I have been quite happy in both my program and Atlanta since!

 

What is some advice you would give to prospective graduate students?

Contact students and faculty! Had I interacted with actual cognitive psychology students/faculty before applying to graduate school, I would have realized that my interests were more aligned with Neuroscience. Though I learned a lot from my experience working as a technician in a neuroscience lab, I might have saved myself a few years in deciding what I wanted to do if I had more interaction with students and faculty.

 

Describe your main goals for the Gradschoolmatch survey.

This survey is a tool that will help Gradschoolmatch figure out what prospective graduate students need to be successful in their program search. I can tell you my story and maybe gather up the experience of my friends, but whatwe really need is an accurate perspective into the thought process of all graduate students. We want to know if the majority of students had trouble choosing their program. We want to know how many people ended up in a program that is a good fit and how many look back and realize that they would do things differently if they could. What we really want to know is what can be done to help students find their best graduate school match?

If we can get answers to these questions from the students themselves, Gradschoolmatch can help to make the graduate program search less confusing, and hopefully result in much happier and more successful students.

Look out for a blog post later this summer detailing some of the results from our survey, as well as how we are continuing to improve the graduate program search for both students and administrators here at Gradschoolmatch.com.

Like this article? Sign up for Gradschoolmatch blog updates, and visit us at Gradschoolmatch.com to start matching with graduate programs for free.


 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

The Top 5 Reasons You Should Go to Graduate School

As costs of higher education continue to rise, countless articles and opinions have surfaced discouraging the pursuit of additional degrees.

While graduate school isn’t right for everyone, there are many tangible benefits to earning a higher degree that can often outweigh associated negatives.

Making a personal and financial investment in graduate school can yield significant returns for your career and your future.

Here are our top 5 reasons to go to graduate school:

 

1. Graduate school provides opportunities for highly increased lifetime financial earnings and more career advancement.

GSM earnings stat

In most professions, possessing a graduate degree allows for significantly higher earnings than just having a bachelor’s. In fields ranging from web design to finance, having a master’s degree can bump up salary growth from between 17-20% per year.

In some fields, those who hold a master’s degree reap even more benefit; biology and life science master’s students earn 70% more in those disciplines than those with bachelor’s degrees in the same field.

Many fields now require you to obtain a master’s degree; if not, a master’s is often highly encouraged. For example, while social work graduates with a bachelor’s degree are sometimes able to find employment, most government agencies and positions in clinical social work require a master’s degree to advance.

Even if your chosen field doesn’t require a master’s degree, the increased potential for lifetime earnings is a major incentive to pursue further education. Those holding master’s degrees will typically earn about $400,000 more than their bachelor’s degree counterparts over their lifespan.

 

2. Getting a graduate degree allows you to change career paths.

After a few years in the working world, many people realize that they have selected the wrong path and want to pursue a new career.

Graduate school is a great way to get the education necessary to switch career paths and gain experience in a field unrelated to your time as an undergrad.

MBAs are a particularly useful degree for those seeking to change career paths. An MBA offers students the ability to initially take a variety of courses in business before choosing a 2nd year specialization, as well as the chance to intern after the first year to gain experience and insight into their desired career path.

 

3. Graduate students can often receive a stipend in addition to a free education through teaching and assistantship positions.

Graduate school is expensive, but there are a lot of options to lessen the cost while still pursuing your goals and gaining valuable experience in your field.

Assistantships are programs that provide funding to students for their graduate program, while also having them work for their university in some capacity. Some assistantships even pay students on top of the cost of tuition.

Fellowships are another channel to pursue; there are a wide variety of graduate fellowships available in a multitude of disciplines that typically cover all costs associated with graduate school, ranging from tuition to housing.

 

4. Graduate school provides the chance to become a subject-matter expert in your chosen field.

A lot of bachelor’s degrees are very generalized; while undergraduate majors like marketing are broad and provide a solid overview of the field, a more specialized master’s degree makes you a marketable candidate with a more targeted skill set.

Gradschoolmatch has thousands of specialized graduate and doctoral programs to get connected with; you might even find speciality areas in your field or a related field that you’ve never even heard of that interests you.

 

5. Graduate school allows you to utilize the networks of both your professors and your peers.

When you go to graduate school, you have the opportunity to tap into the network of your professors. Whether it’s writing a letter of recommendation for a position, personally referring you to a doctorate program, or reaching out to their colleagues in industry on your behalf, your graduate school professors are a wealth of knowledge and resources.

Your peers are also a fantastic networking tool. If you have classmates that have previously been in industry, use them to learn more about job application processes and utilize their network to get introductions.

Get to know your classmates and stay in close contact after graduation; there’s a good chance one of them can use their network to help you land a job or introduce you to the right people at some point in your career.

Like this article? Sign up for Gradschoolmatch blog updates, and visit us at Gradschoolmatch.com to start matching with graduate programs for free.


 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

What Are The Top Prospective Graduate Students Really Looking For?

Whether they are millennials, or adults returning back to school after years in industry, there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world seeking higher degrees for a variety of reasons.

It can be difficult to capture your audience; as more and more people are going back to school, factors such as age, experience level, and an increased desire for flexibility emerge that make it harder to understand and cater to high-quality students.

Regardless of these socioeconomic factors, many prospective graduate students are looking for the same set of criteria when choosing a program. By better understanding trends amongst the graduate student population, you will be able to more effectively target your offerings.

So, what are some of the questions that top prospective graduate students are asking of potential programs?

 

Will this additional degree help me get a better, higher paying job after I graduate?

In some fields, an advanced degree is required for success and career advancement. However, with many newer fields such as web development requiring less time in school and more time gaining practical experience, many millennials question whether additional degrees will provide them with a competitive advantage.

Despite some shifting views, 90% of U.S. adults believe that going back to school for a higher degree can increase their earning potential and opportunities for future career advancement; a survey conducted by Georgetown University found that career and financial advancement opportunities rose by 57% for those holding a Master’s degree.

With millennials accounting for around 40% of the current unemployment rate, it’s crucial to communicate job placement rates, tangible skills that your program can provide to make students more attractive to employers, and resources your program offers to connect students with career opportunities.

 

Will I be able to afford this degree?

With average undergraduate student loan debt hovering around $35,000, recent graduates and seasoned workers alike are concerned about racking up more and more money in loans.

Prospective students are looking for a serious pay-off from a graduate degree, especially when it comes to increased earning potential. For example, software engineers with a master’s degree can earn an average of 17.5% more in their lifetime than those with just a bachelor’s- definitely worth the extra spend on tuition and time in school.

Communicating the value-add that your program offers is a key component of attracting and recruiting the right students. By quantifying the benefits that your program provides relative to the cost, you can show prospective students that an initial investment can yield lifelong financial gains.

 

What will this program invest in me as an individual?

Millennials are consistently demanding more individual, tailored experiences in their work, personal lives, and educational endeavors.

Not only do millennials seek more flexibility (37% would take a pay cut if it meant more job flexibility), they also look for nurturing and support in big life decisions and career or education shifts.

Provide resources to cater to the needs of prospective graduate students, such as the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a graduate admissions officer, or a forum to connect with other students at your college or university to talk about housing options or things to do in your city. The top prospects want a steady flow of information and communication to make the best choice for their graduate education.

While it might take some extra work, giving prospective students resources and tools for success up front will empower them to make smart, informed decisions for their future, as well as the future of your program.

Like this article? Sign up for Gradschoolmatch blog updates, and visit us at Gradschoolmatch.com to start recruiting the best and brightest future graduate students.


 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

3 Ways to Stay Competitive This Summer

Whether you’re interning, studying for the GRE, or working a job back home, it’s crucial to stay competitive and on top of your game during the summer months. While it’s important to have fun and enjoy the time off of school (for some of us!), summer is a time when many slack off, and where you can gain a competitive advantage over your peers.

Regardless of your work or school situation over the summer, here are 3 ways to stay competitive and relevant, and come out on top when classes start back in the fall.

 

1. Utilize your network to its fullest extent.

Looking for a grad school recommendation, or a connection to score some facetime at your dream company? Turn to your network for some help.

“Weak ties” are categorized as people that you are acquaintances with, meaning that you know them, but not very well. According to a study developed by sociologist Mark Granovetter, 56% of those surveyed got a job through a personal connection, and of those connections, an overwhelming majority were weak ties that the subjects saw and spoke to occasionally or rarely.

Scour your network to find people that can help you! Look through your personal and mutual LinkedIn connections and search for people in your desired city or field to reach out to regarding opportunities.

Utilize the alumni association at your alma mater; a fellow alum of your university is almost always likely to want to help out a recent grad.

Reach out to family members- there’s a good chance there is someone in your extended family, or someone that a family member knows, that can provide some career insight or a recommendation. You won’t know until you ask.

 

2. Set up “discovery” calls with people in your current situation or desired field.

Don’t wait around for a company or grad school to contact you- be proactive!

Once you utilize your network, start reaching out to your connections and setting up discovery calls.

Discovery calls are not interviews- they are simply phone calls or in-person meetings to learn more about a graduate school, company, or job opening.

The best way to set up a discovery call? Reach out to your contact and show your interest in learning more about their organization or school, without outright asking for the position.

For example: “Hi Ms. Barnes. I’m very interested in attending Florida State University, and I would love to learn more about the Applied Economics graduate program. Do you have a few minutes to speak over the phone regarding the program?”

Not only can discovery calls give you good information, they can also give you an advantage over your peers. Even if the company isn’t currently hiring, or the graduate school isn’t currently accepting applications, making a connection with someone on the inside and leaving a good impression will give you an edge. Next time there’s an opening, they’ll look to you first.

 

3. Hone your skill set and get experience in your field.

Picture this: you’re applying to a digital media graduate program this summer, but you don’t have a lot of experience and don’t know how to make your resume stand out. What do you do?

Start by beefing up your skill set and getting practical experience, even if it’s unpaid. Even if you are working or interning, summer is a great time to continue the learning process and make yourself more attractive to potential job or university opportunities.

In the digital media example above, the prospective student can take serious action to get ahead. Work on tangible skills like InDesign, and take a class at your local university or educational institute like General Assembly to learn from the professionals. Reach out to friends and family and ask if they need any digital media work; the freelance experience, even if it’s unpaid, will give you a chance to practice and hone your craft.

Like this article? Sign up for Gradschoolmatch blog updates, and visit us at Gradschoolmatch.com to start matching with graduate programs for free.


 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Graduate School: Education, Not Job Training

We’re noticing a significant uptick lately of rendering of the garb over the diminishing value of a graduate education. The negative view, beginning here, pivots largely around the argument that grad school has become something of a career dead-end, with some fields (eg, academic positions) in dire straits. And then there is the additional argument, not one I necessarily agree with, that the rising cost of higher education reflects a growing economic bubble that is bound to burst.

I attribute much of this negativity to our current state of economic stagnation. In past cycles, one could bivouac in graduate school to wait out the downturns, emerging with freshly minted credentials just as the economic storm was clearing. I think the wide-spread carnage of the current mess has deepened the uncertainty compared to prior cycles. This one looks like it will transcend the typical time it takes to earn a doctorate. We aren’t confident the storm will clear when we are through.  But other than that, not much else has changed.

Because the best reason to attend graduate school is, was and will always be because you are deeply interested in continuing your education and/or performing new research in subject matter XYZ. In all likelihood, irrespective of the field you enter, you will emerge with better writing, public speaking, and analytical skills along with specialized knowledge. The marketplace has always placed a high value on these attributes (pdf) and there is no reason to think that won’t continue. I strongly agree with what Roger Whitson has to say about this. Things are not as bad as they appear, but can also be improved.

I would add one caution to his superb advice to grad students that they acquire additional transferable skills while in grad school: Don’t get so thin in your effort that it compromises your ability to fully excel in your primary mission. At the end of grad school, excellence in effort and performance will always open more doors and more career possibilities than something less well achieved.

I’d also like to mention something rarely discussed about the skill set of the typical graduate school professor. When they excel, it is in teaching and research, not in career training. Prospective students should understand that most professors are ultra-specialists with little experience outside of the academy. That fact has far-reaching implications about what they can reasonably be expected to deliver in terms of job advice for their students.

Still, one way to recognize a good graduate program is the level of energy placed into exposing their students to the world of career possibilities. For example, the programs I’ve been involved with sponsor a parade of outside speakers and visitors from non-academic fields for their students throughout the year. Their students acquire a broader career perspectives. Sometimes I worry that we do this too well, that we aren’t doing enough to nudge our outstanding students toward academic careers.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail