The next step:

Commencement is held each fall and spring semesters to honor the graduating class. File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

After graduating from the university, students have an option to further their education by attending graduate school. File Photo/The Lion’s Roar




There are numerous options for students upon graduation. Graduate school is one of these options.

“Graduate programs generally evaluate candidates on a great deal more than GPA and test scores,” said Head of the Department of Psychology Susan Coats. “Talk to your advisor or someone else in your department about what programs in your discipline are looking for when selecting applicants. Apply to many schools. Admission into any given program is often a function of things that have nothing to do with the applicant. Budget constraints, whether particular faculty are taking students that year, the applicant pool and other arbitrary factors all play a role. Throw a wide net.”

Tyron’E Hawkins, a graduate kinesiology student is pursuing her masters to further her understanding of her academic field.

“I decided to go to graduate school because I wanted to learn more about different aspects of my field before I went to physical therapy school,” said Hawkins. “The kinesiology program graduate school here at Southeastern offers many concentrations and electives that teach us so much about the endless possibilities there are in the field to find a career.”

Coats suggests students interested in furthering their education beyond a bachelor’s degree prepare outside of the classroom as well as maintain their GPA.

“Research graduate programs, take appropriate coursework, get some discipline-related experience outside the classroom, take entrance exam tests if applicable, secure letters of recommendation, ask an advisor or knowledgeable other to provide feedback on vitae, resume, and cover letter, apply, wait,” said Coats. “Some programs will interview as part of the application process, others do not. Throughout that process, research particular programs.”

Coats also believes it is important for students to evaluate themselves and their goals while deciding to enter a graduate program.

“I think students should take an inventory of themselves and the discipline,” said Coats. “Are you passionate about the field? Graduate school requires persistence and independence. Do you possess those characteristics? What jobs are available to you once you graduate with an advanced degree? Is that a job you would want? What are your other options?”

Hawkins, who went into graduate school immediately after receiving her bachelor’s degree, pursued a graduate assistant position to help pay tuition. 

“I began my graduate school career the semester right after I graduated,” said Hawkins. “I landed a Graduate Assistant position in the Office for Student Engagement, so I had three weeks to get into gear. I have had to adapt to having all night classes, which I have never been a fan of, but I will survive. I really enjoy the fact that I still feel like a lion. I still get to enjoy most of the campus activities and events just like undergrad. I love that part of it.”

In Hawkins’ experience, applying was easy but class times were hard.

“The easiest part of getting in was definitely the application,” said Hawkins. “The toughest part was by far the GRE. Since I didn’t decide until about three weeks before graduation that I wanted to go to grad school, I had to take my GRE right after my last final. About a week after graduation, I got my acceptance letter.”

Because many career choices within Coats’ department are contingent upon graduate school, the psychology department offers workshops to prepare students.

“I think it is important for departments to prepare students for their future,” said Coats. “In some fields, such as psychology, graduate school is necessary for many careers. We hold a graduate school prep workshop, a career workshop, a ‘How to create a research poster’ workshop and for our graduate students, a mock interview day.”

Hawkins wishes she would have been more aware of her class times as well as the course structure of the graduate program.

“The night classes for sure,” said Hawkins. “That doesn’t apply to every program however. I think I would have liked to have known that there are still those basic classes you must take before you get to your major classes just like in undergrad. I was ready to hit the ground running, but I had to crawl before I could walk. Now, I’m walking and ready to run across the stage.”

Hawkins believes students should attend graduate school because knowledge is important.

“I would recommend grad school because, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon in the world,’” said Hawkins. “I believe it is so important, and now more than ever, our generation needs more than just a bachelor’s degree. We are the future, and I think an extensive and well-rounded education is a great way to make our future the best we can. Plus, if you get a GA position, that makes it practically free, and free school is a dream come true.”

Hawkins has experienced many benefits to graduate school and recommends it for anyone interested.

“I would say if you’re even considering grad school, at the very least, apply,” said Hawkins. “Also, to strongly consider getting a GA position. It pays tuition, gives you work experience and a nice pay check. Grad school is a great experience. I have a few of the same professors from undergrad, and I have been able to form closer relationships with them and have even found a mentor. The class sizes are much smaller, and everyone leans on each other. We all want to see each other succeed. I think that is one of the most rewarding parts of grad school.”