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GREady: Get Ready for Graduate School

Do you want to attend graduate school? If the answer is yes, shift the gear in drive. This blog will help you 1) stay informed about graduate programs, 2) decide on graduate schools, 3) apply for graduate schools (including the GRE and personal statements), 4) prepare for interviews, 5) find funding and lots more. Although this site cannot guarantee a masters or doctoral position, it does promise that you will be a very competitive candidate for your desired program!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Undergraduate Curriculum: Getting To Know Your Advisor

Networking is essential to the business and academic field. The best place to start your networking experience is in college. One faculty member that you will have to meet on a semester basis is your major advisor. Simply put the undergraduate advisor is the single, most important person to come to for information. Your major advisor will suggest the order of classes you take, propose summer programs to apply for, and most importantly write letters of recommendation. Ah, yes, the letter of recommendation one of the key elements to a successful graduate school application. Many graduate school admission committees will require a letter of recommendation supporting your talent for graduate research from your advisor. For most heavily populated universities, advisors tend to be very hard to reach and will usually just sign off on student schedules. Therefore, it is necessary for you, the student, to initiate what could be a very fruitful relationship with your advisor. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology states that “If you get to know your advisor well at the beginning, there is more of a chance to start an excellent advising relationship.” Here are a few tips to get your advising relationship jumpstarted:

Tip 1: Don’t Be Shy About the Situation. Go ahead and introduce yourself (obviously, first make sure it is during his/her office hour) and tell your advisor how excited you are to be enrolled at your institution and in your program. Make sure to give a firm handshake, while maintaining eye contact. For how to conduct a proper handshake and what to avoid click on the following websites:

The All American Handshake and Measures to Stay Clear Of

How to Give a Proper Handshake

The Secret to a Perfect Handshake


Tip 2: Come Prepared. For every schedule meeting you have with your advisor, make sure you have 1) a print out of your recent semester grades, 2) a list of required classes that still need to be completed and 3) a list of classes that you are planning to register for the upcoming semester.

Tip 3: Enroll. Do not be afraid to enroll in a class that your advisor is teaching. Once your advisor sees your academic performance in one of his/her classes, your letter of recommendation will instantly become much more personal and worthy for graduate committees to see. This could also backfire if you do poorly, so be sure to plan your schedule ahead of time to maximize studying efforts for your advisor’s class. Try to sit within the first two rows so that he/she sees your commitment to the class and to the field in general.

Tip 4: Do Your Research. Conduct a PubMed or other journal research to view recent articles your advisor has published. Approach your advisor during office hours or semester meetings and ask well-thought out questions about his/her research. If you are really interested in your advisor’s research, ask if he/she is accepting undergraduates into their research project or if he/she might consider you for a research position in the future.

Tip 5: Incentive. Find out if your advisor likes coffee, soda, or candy. If you bring one of his/her favorite items into the advisement meeting to share, your advisor will most likely extend your meeting time and ask you questions about your goals and/or graduate considerations.

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