Extra activities key for grad school candidates

GVL Photo Illustration/ Rane Martin
Senior marketing major Matt Vitale visits the GRE website.

Rane Martin

GVL Photo Illustration/ Rane Martin Senior marketing major Matt Vitale visits the GRE website.

Dan Spadafora

Layna Edinton understands the importance of getting an early start when it deals with applying for graduate school.

Recently accepted last winter into Grand Valley State University to pursue her masters degree in taxation, Edinton said she started considering graduate schools and programs when she was a sophomore still enrolled in her undergraduate at Farris State University.

“I think because I got to look into it early I got to ask a lot more questions and I got to familiarize myself with how the programs worked,” she said. “It’s extremely competitive, when it comes down to it, everyone wants a graduate degree. I think if you can do anything to make yourself stand out a little more, do it.”

Jeffery Potteiger, dean of graduate studies at GVSU, said he agrees with this mindset, saying that students should be considering graduate school as early as their sophomore year. Potteiger also stressed that students need to do whatever they can to standout in a pile of applications.

“You can’t just go to class and get good grades,” Potteiger said. “That’s an important part … but it’s also what else do you do? What other kinds of co-curricular activities are you involved in? You need to be involved in various activities that promote your well-roundedness as a candidate for graduate school.”

Potteiger said getting involved early to develop a resume in order to highlight a person’s strong qualities is key, and suggested students do internships, volunteer and shadow professionals in their field. In some cases, a candidate with a lower overall GPA but better extracurricular activities could get accepted over a candidate with higher grades but fewer experiences, Potteiger said.

All graduate programs have a floor GPA level.

For students with GPAs below that floor, Potteiger said they should maximize their communication with a graduate program director or an admissions review committee.

“The best advice that we can give [students] would be to go to the programs and almost all programs have what their entrance requirements are,” Potteiger said. “Many programs will have students submit a personal statement or a career aspiration statement and you want to make sure that thing is really well written. You need to make sure that you bring to the forefront those additional experiences.”

Claudia Bajema, director of GVSU’s graduate business programs, said it is very important for applying students to speak with directors to avoid doing things they do not have to do and also understand the things they do have to do.

“I think [students] should take advantage of directors with regard to whether a program they are interested in aligns well with their career goals,” Bajema said. “If you have some ideas about what you would like to do and what program you think best serves