Graduate School Fair connects students with career programs


Courtesy / GVSU

Zsolt Palmer, Staff Reporter

In an effort to help senior students connect with graduate schools, the Grand Valley State University held its Graduate School Fair Wednesday, Oct. 21. The fair invites both students and graduate schools to attend, providing opportunities for students to connect with programs of interest.

Graduate schools from all over the state were in attendance, including Michigan State University, University of Michigan, University of Detroit Mercy and dozens of others. Each graduate school provided both group information sessions and individual one-on-one sessions. Over 182 GVSU students registered to attend the information sessions provided by the fair.

During a typical year, 45 to 50 graduate schools will attend, setting up physical booths that allow for students to personally chat with representatives. This year, the fair was held virtually with over 75 schools in attendance. Students could access the fair by logging on to their GVSU Handshake accounts where they could register for time slots slated throughout the morning.

Every graduate school offered multiple sessions, each a half-hour long and with different topics. The video sessions were hosted by Handshake partners or by Zoom to allow for informative conversations.

Despite the virtual environment, the fair ran smoothly according to organizers. Group and personal sessions were held on time, giving students easy access to school representatives.

“Fairs like this are extremely beneficial for students,” said Graduate School Fair organizer Jamie Dorman. “This fair can be for students that are positive they will be attending graduate school or for students that are just thinking about it. It’s also a great way to be able to compare schools and programs to each other and start to learn which schools may be the best fit.”

The video sessions were a low-key affair, often with only a few students in each call. The calm environment allowed for students to better connect with the representatives, giving them the ability to ask personalized and specific questions. Students could easily request contact information from the presenters, and they often did, indicating that they wanted to continue their conversations after the call was over.

Most of the students who attended expressed an earnest interest in finding a program that fit their needs. Jacquelyn Martin, Associate Professor and Graduate School Director at the GVSU School of Criminal Justice, encouraged students to consider graduate school as a fulfilling option.

“(Graduate school) is definitely a new environment,” Martin said. “There’s more real-world interactions and opportunities. Everything has much more depth at this stage. The professors push you to have a more informed opinion on the topic, deepening your knowledge and your skills. I would really encourage students to consider it.”

Dornan said she hopes that students will learn from attending the fair is that they have a lot of great options after they graduate from GVSU.

“I hope that students will pursue whichever pathway they feel is most beneficial for themselves and their future, whether that is graduate school, a full-time job, a year of service through Americorps, or something else,” Dornan said. “I also hope that students will make connections at the schools they are considering for their graduate programs and that this will help to set them up for success.”