Graduate school may seem like a daunting or formidable question when one doesn’t know where to look or who to talk to. However, Boise State offers numerous resources that are readily available to students in order to make the search as easy as possible.
Melissa Krancer, the recruiter for Boise State’s Graduate College, is usually one of the first people students talk to when they are confused or unsure.
“I talk to people from traditional students, to people in their sixties who have a passion that they’ve been putting off,” Krancer said. “There really is no limit to who can return to school and decide to pursue an education, and it can be for so many different reasons.”
According to Krancer, there seems to be varying perceptions of higher education within Idaho. Some people are terrified of higher education because they worry about debt or the possible lack of a job, while others believe it’s the “Emerald City,” and that all of their problems will be solved by a degree.
“It’s a big investment,” Krancer said. “It’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of money and it’s a lot of work. It’s all those things. You need to get some good career counseling at the front end to make sure you match up with what you want to do. It’s not to be entered lightly.”
Alex Gutierrez, the senior associate director for Career Services, explained that the first step in considering graduate school is ultimately determining what your personal and career goals are.
“Do the research on yourself,” Gutierrez said. “What are your own personal goals and wishes? If you’re going into graduate school, what do you hope to get out of that?”
Both the Career Center and Graduate College have staff that are eager to help students with this process, and each of the graduate programs also has a program coordinator ready to talk with students that would like to learn more.
Another helpful tool from the Career Center is a program called PathwayU, which is a free online assessment for students who are struggling with pinpointing their career goals. It looks at a student’s interests, values and strengths, and gives suggestions of possible careers to consider.
“Whether you’re a freshman taking it just to figure out what to do or study, or a senior gathering all of their experiences to find things they really enjoy, this tool can give career suggestions that students may not have even thought of,” Gutierrez said.
Another important step that students can take is simply talking to other people regarding graduate school.
“Talk to your advisor and professors, and ask if they know anybody that you can talk to in the field you’re looking into, to evaluate and ask questions,” Gutierrez said. “Ask them questions like: How did you enter the job market? How do you like what you do? Was it tough? Do you have further education (a certification, a whole different major, a graduate degree), and did that help? How did that affect your prospects?”
This also leads to a helpful resource called BroncoLink, which is a system of alumni that are willing to do informational interviews, job shadows and answer any questions.
Ultimately, there are a lot of considerations when it comes to graduate school, including choosing a program, picking the right school, going through the application process and figuring out funding, but it all just truly depends and begins with what you want to do.
According to Gutierrez, ideally students start thinking about this at the beginning of senior year, or maybe even junior year, because it’s really about getting information to help make a decision. However, he doesn’t think it’s ever too late to start.
Lilly Crolius, a first year technical communications graduate student, initially started her research into graduate school by looking at Boise State’s website and going into the graduate college office as a walk-in appointment. She described her transition into graduate school as relatively easy due to her personal support group and Boise State’s resources.
According to Crolius, her advice for students who are even slightly interested in education beyond an undergraduate degree is to start with broad research and to pay close attention to deadlines.
“Keep all your application stuff together and organized, stay on top of it and don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification,” Crolius said. “Always remember that programs may be competitive, but usually professors and department heads are excited when students are interested in their subject. You’ve got this.”