Last Minute Tips for Prospective #SAgrads

by Meridith Balas

With the common April 15th acceptance deadline quickly approaching, potential student affairs graduate students across the United States are exploring their best options for graduate programs and assistantship positions.

For those prospective students who are currently in the process, here are some things I recommend considering when choosing a program:

1.      How did the campus FEEL?
a.       Did you make any connections during your campus visit?
b.      How did it feel to be hosted at this institution?
c.       Did you feel welcome?
d.      Could you see yourself being a part of this collegiate community?

Having an assistantship not only helps to fund your education, but it also provides you with an opportunity to apply your classroom learning to practice while preparing you for a position after graduation.

2.      Do you have an assistantship?
a.       If so, do you honestly think it will be a good fit?
b.      Did you have a chance to connect with your potential supervisor during your visit or over the phone?
c.       Will this position provide you with an environment of both challenge and support?
d.      What types of experiences are you hoping to gain from an assistantship and will this position provide those opportunities?

Though each program has its own unique function and culture, there are aspects of each to consider when choosing a graduate experience in the classroom.

3.      What is the academic culture like?
a.       Will your classes provide you with a healthy amount of challenge and rigor?
b.      Is the program based in research or in counseling? Which would you prefer?
c.       Will the faculty members offer the type of support you need to excel?
d.      Will you thrive in the class environment (for example, a cohort-modeled group vs. a larger group setting)?

Lastly, I would recommend that you consider the school and the region in your decision-making process.

4.      What will your personal experience be like as a graduate student there?
a.       Does the region offer aspects that you would like to explore?
b.      What is the college/university culture like?
c.       Are there airports, train stations, and other means of transportation accessible if you want to travel home or to conferences?
d.      Will you be able to enjoy yourself in this environment?

Regardless of which program and/or assistantship position you choose, you will have many opportunities to explore the field while building connections with others, learning, and ultimately, preparing yourself for a future of serving college students as a student affairs professional.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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