by Katie Yeaton
To continue my month-of-reflection, I want to tell you all a little about my home of the Runnin’ Rebels. I can hardly believe a year ago I walked on UNLV’s campus for the first time. Wandering campus, I remember feeling excited for a new opportunity and also confused why every building had its own acronym. After wandering for a good 15-20 minutes I finally found the CEB - education building (which is located right next to Subway, so there were good signs from the beginning).
Throughout the afternoon I talked with current Masters and PhD students about the program, got to tour campus, and got to meet all the folks who run the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). As the day progressed, I remembered feeling slightly nervous, internally asking if UNLV was my right ‘fit’. It wasn’t until I took a break from talking with people that I realized attending UNLV was my chance to reconnect with myself, while learning and doing what I love.
At the time I was conflicted, do I leave home and travel across the country? Do I stay on the east coast? Today I am glad I took this leap of faith. I wanted to meet new people and learn about a school entirely different from my undergraduate. Being a Division 1, minority-serving, (moving to) top tier institution, UNLV completed this niche I was searching for and so much more. I have had the privilege to twirl with the Star of Nevada Marching Band and give back to the Las Vegas community as a member of National Residence Hall Honorary. I have come to know a majority of the building names/acronyms in the past six months, and I can find a parking spot on campus without too much of a headache. In retrospect, I am glad I took this leap because I feel more independent, starting a life in a place I never knew before March 2015.
When it comes to finding your “right fit” school, my advice would be to trust your gut in the end. Make a list of your wants from a graduate program, as well as some of your short-term SMART goals for what you want to get out of graduate school. Challenge yourself. Where is your dream school? Move to some place outside of your current geographic area. Look into Graduate Assistantships you may have not considered - Academic Advising, Success Coaching, Recreation Center, Residence Life, etc. Explore your options and challenge yourself to expand past the walls of the box you know and above all, trust yourself.