EVALUATING A GRADUATE
PROGRAM IN
HIGHER EDUCATION &
STUDENT AFFAIRS
Gwendolyn Archibald
Higher Education & Student Affairs
The University of Iowa
N491 Lindquist Center
www.education.uiowa.edu
GOALS FOR TODAY’S DISCUSSION
Provide:
o an introduction to the nature of graduate preparation for higher
education/student affairs work and know how to make decisions
about attending graduate school;
o information about selecting graduate programs that fit individual
needs and professional goals; and
o have information about graduate school application processes.
GRADUATE PREPARATION FOR STUDENT
AFFAIRS WORK PROVIDES:
• Depth of analysis, critical thinking, reflection and
inquiry
• Development of a theoretical- and researchbased orientation to your work
• Becoming a reflective practitioner and learningoriented professional
• Preparation for leadership positions
GRADUATE PREPARATION FOR STUDENT
AFFAIRS WORK
• What is graduate school like?
• What are curricular expectations?
• Are there opportunities to gain experience out of
class?
• May I go to school part-time?
• What should I look for in a graduate program?
SAMPLE CURRICULUM-FIRST YEAR M.A.
• Intro to Student Services
• College Students and their Environments
• College Student Learning and Cognitive
Development
• Professional Seminar
• Multiculturalism in Higher Education
• Helping Skills
• Practicum
SAMPLE CURRICULUM-SECOND YEAR M.A.
• Research, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher
Education
• College Student Psychosocial & Identity Development
• Elective or Practicum in College Teaching
• Professional Seminar
• Issues and Policies in Higher Education
• Administration in Higher Education & Student Affairs
• Elective or Advanced Practicum
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN
SPECIFIC PROGRAMS?
• What are the requirements for the program?
• What are the values and beliefs of the program?
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN
SPECIFIC PROGRAMS?
• What backgrounds do the faculty have? Have they worked in
the field?
• In what professional activities are the faculty involved?
• What are the research interests of the faculty?
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN SPECIFIC
PROGRAMS?
• What courses are offered? Who teaches the courses?
• What are the faculty’s current roles? Are they working in the
field? Are they full-time faculty?
• How accessible are faculty to students?
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN SPECIFIC
PROGRAMS?
• How many students are in the program?
• Who are the students? Where are they from? What are their
backgrounds?
• What are the students involved with? Research? Conferences?
Volunteer activities? Practica?
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN SPECIFIC
PROGRAMS?
• Where do the students work?
• What do they say about the program?
• What are graduates of the program doing?
OTHER ISSUES TO CONSIDER
• Location/setting of Graduate School
• Full-time/part-time composition of students
• Size of Graduate School
• Financial Assistance
• Graduate Assistantships
APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL
• Check with each program: process and deadlines vary.
• Application form(s)
• Transcripts: all previous coursework
• Writing sample: goal statement or similar activity
• GRE scores (not required for all programs)
• Letters of reference: speak to your potential for success as a
graduate student, a student affairs professional, leadership,
research.
APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL
Key Admissions Criteria:
• potential to be a successful graduate student: (academic
background (courses, gpa), graduate admissions
examination, writing sample, references, interviews)
•
potential to be a successful student affairs professional:
(writing sample, references, interviews: goals, activities
and experiences, balance, personal qualities,
contributions to the program, ability to benefit from the
program)
APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL
Admissions Decisions:
• by the program faculty and/or a college
or departmental admissions committee. Set times;
rolling admissions
• application deliberations: consider the “whole
package”; admissions criteria; student-program fit;
numbers: based on faculty resources,
assistantship opportunities
• possible decisions: admit, deny, conditional admission
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR IN A GRADUATE
STUDENT?
• Motivation to enter student affairs
• Motivation to enter graduate school
• What do you need from a graduate program?
• What do you expect from a graduate program?
• Short term and long term goals?
HOW CAN YOU STRENGTHEN YOUR
APPLICATION?
• Quality of Materials:
• [Know the program’s process and follow it.]
• Reflective about your experiences
• Explaining Potential Problem Areas
HOW CAN YOU PREPARE FOR GRADUATE
SCHOOL?
• Academic experiences
• Co-curricular experiences
HOW SHOULD I DECIDE WHERE TO APPLY?
• Key: Finding the right fit.
• What do we mean by fit?
• The match between what you are looking for in a
program and the nature of the program (what the
program has to offer).
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
• How many programs should I apply to?
• Allow yourself some choices, but keep it
focused.
• Have a balance of “Reach/stretch Schools”
and “Safety Schools.”
• Remember the quality of your applications.
• Would you be willing to visit the campus?
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
• What are campus visits?
• Two different purposes (before or after applications)
• Opportunity to see the campus…immediate
reactions?
• Opportunity to answer some questions in person.
• Opportunity to interview with faculty or others for
assistantship positions.
WHAT IF I DON’T GET ADMITTED?
• Get feedback
• Investigate Alternatives
• Consider applying again after a year
WHAT OTHER QUESTIONS DO
YOU HAVE?
THANK YOU!
Contact me with any questions:
Gwendolyn Archibald
[email protected]
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Evaluating a Graduate Program In Student Affairs