College Fair supports students looking for life after college

Eric Nickeson-Mendheim

Credit: Hubanks
Credit: Hubanks
Over thirty graduate schools attended Whitman’s eighth annual grad school fair this past Tuesday, Oct. 27. The schools attended to recruit potential applicants and give students a first hand look at the rigorous application process.

“With the economy, it’s definitely getting harder to get into graduate school,” said Student Engagement Center Director Susan Buchanan. “There’s going to be at least a year before there are significant job opportunities, especially in certain fields.”

The Student Engagement Center, however, wants to help students pursue experiences that will help them compete for top-notch schools. They assist students in finding summer internships and jobs, components that may be essential when applying for further education.

“I think a strong background in the actual program is really important,” said Student Recruiter at Washington State University Kalie Davis. “We want to see that you’ve been out there in the field and that you’re getting experience.”

The grad fair is held annually to let students look at graduate school programs up close without having to travel. It also lets them get face time with important admissions officers and recruiters.

“We invite a huge number of graduate schools,” said Buchanan. “We tend to get mostly regional Northwest schools. It’s usually law schools; they tend to recruit more regularly than medical schools.”

Whitman also helps students into grad school by giving them an opportunity to talk to faculty on a one-on-one basis. Cultivating relationships with teachers can be pivotal in applications for graduate schools, allowing admissions officers to get to know applicants more personally via faculty recommendations than students who may have attended larger universities.

“We’re really lucky at Whitman because faculty is encouraged to spend time doing independent research projects with students,” said Buchanan. “The faculty knows you well enough to be able to write a really in-depth letter of recommendation. They can talk very personally and distinctly about how you would fit into a grad school.”

As with any application process, graduate schools look for more than just grades. They look for personality and how someone will interact with the campus environment as a whole.

“We’re not looking for a cookie-cutter class,” said Associate Director of Admissions at Lewis & Clark College Tracy Sullivan. “I think it’s very important people give us a lot of information about who they are personally. We want to have students who bring an enriching environment to the classroom.”

While some students tend to be satisfied with Whitman’s resources, they urge others to take advantage of the opportunities given to them as well.

“I think Whitman does a really good job providing resources like the grad school fair,” said senior Sarah Deming. “One thing is that Whitman students don’t really utilize these events.”

Taking time to get work experience is also promoted by advisers. This allows students to get a perspective of the world outside of the educational system and to form life experiences they might otherwise forgo in the hopes of getting into a top law school or medical school.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea to get some experience before going into graduate school,” said Buchanan. “I think it’s very important to take a year off.”

Networking is also vital in looking for jobs as well as receiving a high degree of education in a specialized field.

“We also tell students the reality is that if they want to practice in the northwest in terms of networking and making connections it’s better to attend a school nearby,” said Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Seattle University Donna Deming. “Networking is really critical. And that’s how jobs are attained.”