tis the season

...for panel discussions about graduate school, that is. Jason was getting ready for one today, and I sat on a similar panel yesterday. I was there as the "humanities" representative -- flanked by an admissions counselor from the law school, and a lower-level dean from the graduate school. The science folks were absent. Of course, none of the students in the room were actually interested in humanities graduate school, which made my job easier -- I could just talk in a general way about discovering your goals, researching programs, and preparing your application package.

Almost none of our students go on to PhD programs -- maybe 1 out of 1000. More than that will eventually get master's degrees, especially since we produce a lot of secondary school teachers. But even at the masters level, the same things hold true: figure out why you want to attend school and what you hope to get out of it (internal motivations usually being more durable than purely external ones); look carefully at a wide range of programs and don't cut off your (geographical, financial, personal) options before you've thought about all the possibilities; put as much time and effort as you possibly can into your application package. Treat your would-be recommenders with courtesy and respect, providing them with plenty of information and plenty of time to write your letter. Show your application statement to people for advice. Rewrite, proof, and proof again.

A job I know I'd never want? Being the recruitment dean for a graduate school at a mediocre state institution. I actually felt kind of sorry for her as she kept talking in a very Bright and Cheery voice about how much people's income levels increased with each educational degree earned. (hah! So not true for people in my field.)