For the second year in a row, I joined my Siena colleagues in preparing a panel to advise Siena students who are interested in going to grad school in English. It was a fun conversation, and a great chance to mentor undergraduates as they consider the next step in their careers.
A journalist from the Promethean, Siena’s student newspaper, wrote a response in the paper:
English Graduate School Seminar
“Are you someone who isn’t sure what they are planning to do for the future? Has Graduate school been something you are interested in, but unsure of where to start? Well for starters, just know that you are not alone. There are plenty of students here on campus who look at their future with excitement, but also fear of the unknown. I myself am one of those students. That is why I attended the English Graduate School Seminar on Friday, November 22 during free period. There I was able to gain insight on the application process and experience of Graduate school from some professors who have recently gone through it themselves. Dr. Stacy Dearing, Dr. Shannon Draucker and Dr. James Belflower were there to answer questions and provide some tips.
As someone who is interested in Graduate school but wasn’t even sure where to start, this seminar was so helpful. Dearing, Draucker and Belflower answered questions that I didn’t even know I had questions about. They taught us to make sure to only go to programs that are funded, to ask about the curriculum, whether or not one will teach while they are going through school, the kind of support that students receive from faculty and so much more. We all have gone through the process of finding undergraduate study, but Graduate school is an entirely different being. For an MA it can take about 1-2 years. An MFA is usually about 3 years and a PhD is typically anywhere from 5-8 years, but that is something that differs for everyone but it truly does take time. To earn a PhD is a great achievement, but Dearing, Draucker and Belflower told us that it is not an easy task. Not only does it take time, but it takes a lot of effort. Not everyone who starts the program finishes it. However, they stressed that one should not feel ashamed if they do not finish this. It is better to realize that getting a PhD is not for them early on than completing it and hating the field that you are in. The professors told us the truth about continuing your studies after undergraduate school. It is not easy, it is not for everyone, but if it is truly something you love and want to do then it is totally worth it.
There were so many helpful tips and answers provided from the Professors that spoke at the seminar. They gave us handouts with a timeline to stay on track, questions to ask before applying for certain programs and how to ask current professors for letters of recommendation. The seminar was focused mainly on applying to an English-area for Graduate school, but I feel much of the advice embedded in this article can be used for other areas as well. Being able to learn and ask questions about something that I myself have considered was really helpful. Going down the path of Graduate school is not for everyone, but for those who are interested, be sure to look into it. Don’t be afraid to ask your professors for advice, tips and of course letters of recommendation. Good luck to all of those unsure of the road they are going to follow and good luck to those deciding on Graduate studies!”