Virtual event helps students transition to graduate school


Sam Rush/NW

Katarina Rothhorn

With the end of another semester rapidly approaching, many students may be considering options for future employment or further education. For those students contemplating the idea of graduate school, the graduate studies and research department will be presenting Applying to Graduate School-101 to help students feel comfortable taking the next step into higher education. 

“I have dealt a lot with students applying to graduate school so this will be talking about the process and hopefully helping students get a leg up on being ready to do that,” Heather Pickett, director of graduate enrollment and marketing, said.

The event will take place on Wednesday, April 14 from 3-4 p.m. in Jamrich Hall 1315 or via Zoom. Interested students can RSVP on the Hub

Pickett plans on covering topics about different kinds of graduate school programs and the differences in the application process for each type of program. This will include subtopics like personal statements, how to send transcripts, letters of recommendation and even potential ways to pay for graduate school. Even though she has a presentation planned, Pickett hopes the students that attend will determine the direction of the conversation. 

“I’m hoping for a lot of Q and A,” Pickett said. “It is easy to forget what is not super common knowledge about graduate school so I am hoping that students will be open with what is confusing and what they are not sure about.”

The event is aimed towards juniors and seniors who are considering applying to graduate school, as this is the best time for them to start planning for their next steps. 

“I am hoping that there will be students especially in their junior year because that is really when it is the most useful to get a heads up to start thinking about programs,” Pickett said. “This session is good for seniors, they can still apply for [graduate school] this upcoming fall, and juniors who are getting ready to go into summer and use that time to do a lot of research on what programs they are looking for.”

While graduate school may not be the best option for everyone, it can be helpful to gain a better understanding of what attending graduate school is like before completely dismissing it as an opportunity. The event is open to any and all students who may be interested in what graduate school might be like and what work is required to apply. 

For Nadine Sikora, a first year graduate student getting her master’s degree in exercise science, the transition from undergrad to graduate school was the right decision for her, but she was fully expecting the increased workload. 

“I think a lot of people say that grad school is super stressful and a lot of work. The thing is, yes, it is incredibly stressful, your course load has increased a lot, your writing skills have to be improved a lot, your communication with others, like everything you have learned in undergrad … you have to perform at a new level,” Sikora said. “Going into grad school, your expectations have now increased and so I think that is something people should be a bit more aware of.”

Sikora chose to attend grad school as that was the best option for her, and she does not regret it. Despite the paperwork and funding she had to navigate while applying, the reward of higher education and relationships has been worth it. 

“I come from a family of poverty and I can’t live that way anymore. I need more from my life so I needed to go and get myself someplace else,” Sikora said. “For me personally, [grad school] has been 100% exactly what I expected. Like next-level stress. Seeing the passion in my professors’ eyes as they are teaching us … building these connections and these friendships with my cohort … I am going to school with the most incredible, passionate, intelligent group of individuals I have ever met that I never want to leave my life, ever. So grad school has been exactly what I expected for my own personal life.”

Helping other students figure out if they want to attend grad school and how they can apply is the goal of Pickett’s presentation. She does a similar presentation every semester, but if students are looking for information about grad school this semester and are not able to attend, the event will be recorded and posted on the graduate studies webpage

“I am hoping students will have more clarity about the process and definitely for folks who would not otherwise apply because it seems daunting,” Pickett said. “I am hoping to help those students with maybe accessing higher education. There are so many doors that can be opened with a graduate degree.”