Grad school day: Useless unless you’re going to major in science

In the Student Union Memorial Center’s Grand Ballroom there were rows and rows of tables set up, with banners displaying the various colleges that the smiling attendants were representing. There were fliers and pamphlets laid out for UA students to pick up, all with information on graduate school. Despite all this promise, no event has ever been a bigger joke than last week’s Graduate School Day.

Before really laying into the pointlessness of the event, it seems important to note that it isn’t UA Career Services’ fault that the selection of attending colleges was abysmal. Nor was it their fault that most of the students representing the UA came dressed like they were heading to class.

Regardless of who the fault belongs to, it needs to be said that the Graduate School Day is misrepresented. On the UA Career Services website for the event, it says to “come explore graduate options,” but unless you’re a science major (preferably going to med-school), there aren’t options.

Now, there is the reasonable explanation that more science majors go to grad school than other disciplines, but that doesn’t cut it. As a student looking to pursue a Master’s of Fine Arts in creative writing, I was woefully disappointed to find that not one MFA program was at the fair. To make matters worse, there were only a handful of schools in attendance that even had an MFA program.And out of every school attending, not one came with an arts program.
So what was the point of coming?

A prospective student would hope to actually, physically meet some people from the graduate program they’re interested in. In this age of virtual communication, that kind of thing is very important in building a lasting relationship. Becoming more than just an email address is a critcal aspect of the admissions process. Plus, emails can get burried at the bottom of busy inboxes, but meeting someone in person removes that as a problem.

Others with different graduate study interests were likely to run into the same problem. Some general graduate programs were there, sure, but those won’t be the people a student deals with in the program. As if to rub salt in a wound, some table attendants flat out didn’t know anything. When approaching one table, a woman told me not to ask her any questions because she had no idea what was going on. Great.

Again, this is not Career Services’ fault because they don’t decide what schools come to the event or who the schools send. Still, there is certainly something that could be done to help out these underrepresented majors. It’s wasteful of a non-science student’s time.

Perhaps some of the blame belongs to the students, too. After all, what can Career Services to do convince more schools to come when UA students dress like it’s some kind of event on the UA Mall. Don’t go saying that’s nitpicking either — graduate school is a big deal and students should dress accordingly.

That doesn’t mean everyone should have come in a suit. Wear a polo. Is that too much to ask? When more than 75 percent of students who showed up were in their street clothes, it made the UA look like we don’t respect the programs that did come. More than anything it looks unprofessional, and that’s exactly the opposite of what graduate schools want.

So until a wider variety of programs start showing up with people that are comfortable asking questions and students start taking the opportunity seriously, don’t expect any other Graduate School Days to help you improve your chances of getting into your dream program, or any program for that matter.

Just count yourself lucky if a college looking for your major shows up. If and when they do, make sure that you’re dressed appropriately.

— Jason Krell is a junior studying creative writing and Italian. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


Share this article