Every year, the Career Center at Grand Valley State University holds a “graduate school fair” to get students thinking about schooling after their undergraduate degree. Graduate school is typically thought of only for medical or law students, but graduate assistant in the career center Kristina Pepelko said any student can get a master’s or doctoral degree.
Pepelko, who was in charge of running the Wednesday, Oct. 26 fair, said it’s important to have a graduate school fair so students can ask questions and get a “person-to-person” connection with a college representative from a college they are seeking out. She said it’s important to get students exposed to graduate programs who have not started the search, and if they have, to get to know all the details of the program.
“I think it’s particularly important if students are able to engage with the fair, attend the fair, because they get a different experience than if they were just researching by themselves,” Pepelko said.
Pepelko said students go to graduate school for a variety of reasons, two of which are to become more specialized in a field, and they’ll likely earn more money in their career by participating in a graduate program.
“Some people are just really, really interested in going deeper into their field,” Pepelko said. “They want to be a scholar, researcher, what have you, and this is a way to really dig deep.”
Meghan Veltri, a career development specialist at GVSU, said a lot of students may not know what graduate school is or don’t know the opportunities available to them through it. The graduate school fair, she said, helps them in the process in deciding if they are going to graduate school, and if they are, where they are going.
“It’s nice for students to have a one-stop-shop where they can talk to a few different representatives and do some comparing and contrasting,” Veltri said.
Veltri said the process helps students find opportunities, and she said the goal is to make students feel supported.
“I think a lot of students sort of sell themselves a little bit short,” Veltri said. “Maybe they don’t know that they could go on to grad school and that these could be options for them.”
Fifty colleges came to GVSU, about 10 more than last year’s graduate school fair. Many colleges, such as Michigan State University, Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University were local, but some colleges, like Emory University, came from out-of-state. Other out-of-state colleges represented were St. George’s University for medicine and veterinary medicine from Grenada, West Indies, Miami University, University of Notre Dame, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and others.
Veltri said the amount of colleges attending the fair from different states shows the growing amount of institutions paying more attention to GVSU.
“I think it says that we are producing some really great graduates, and that people want to come to our university to recruit those students,” Veltri said.