Stress levels rise as students prepare for graduate schools, take entry exams

11/30/07

While graduation may be around the corner, the next stop may be another classroom for Baker graduates.

Susan Wade, director of the career development center, said about 35 percent of Baker graduates go on to graduate or professional school, but last year the number dropped to 30 percent because of a good job market.

Wade said if students aren’t sure what they want to do after graduation, graduate school is still an option, unless they’re planning on entering a program like medical school.

“They should be on (Professor of Biology Darcy Russell’s) radar at least and should have taken the MCATs long ago,” Wade said. “They are behind if not, but if you’re a junior, it would be smart to start thinking about it.”

If a sudden change of mind makes students consider other graduate schools, Wade said it isn’t too late since many applications aren’t due until the beginning of 2008, and some schools even have rolling deadlines. One problem for seniors who are just now considering graduate school is completing an entrance exam in time.

“In general, students can expect to take an entry exam,” Wade said. “Not to say they will have to take the GRE, every school and every program is different about the GRE. Students will need to find out what specific schools’ requirements are.”

Senior Jaci Kettler is in the process of applying to graduate schools right now, after taking the GRE over the summer.

“I took the ACT, so it was much more like the SAT because it had the math and verbal and writing component,” Kettler said. “I was glad it had the writing part because being at Baker that’s something that’s stressed. I was very concerned about the math part because I haven’t had to deal with math much.”

To prepare for the GRE, Kettler said she did practice tests over and over again. Senior Brittany Coleman turned to professionals to help her improve her LSAT school for law school admittance. She said she took a preparatory course by Kaplan in Lawrence that met every Sunday for three months with practice test days on Saturdays.

“I wouldn’t say it was very beneficial,” Coleman said. “I took the LSAT plain without class, and after taking the class, scored maybe two points more.”

Coleman said while it is getting late for seniors to start thinking about applying for law school, it isn’t too late. She said the first step should be to take the LSAT and begin looking for law schools. Coleman said most of the ones she was interested in had deadlines in February or March.

Choosing a graduate school can be a daunting task with all the choices available. Wade said schools commonly attended by Baker graduates are the University of Kansas, KU Medical School, the University of Missouri-Kansas City dental school and the Cleveland Chiropractic Institute.

“People go to graduate school for everything from art therapy to zoology,” Wade said. “I think the point of going to graduate school is becoming a master in something. Generally, students know they want to spend a couple years researching in one area.”

Coleman said she has chosen seven law schools she wants to apply to, and in selecting them she was looking for a variety of things, including a school where she could enter a joint J.D. and M.B.A. program. She said she thinks it is important to find a school that fits.

“I think it’s important to find something within your means to pay for within five to 10 years after graduation,” Coleman said. “I also think it’s important if you have a specialty area to find a school that targets that.”

After a few promising schools are found, Kettler said she recommended starting the application process as early as possible because the process isn’t as simple as just an application.

“I knew it was a lot of work, but I didn’t realize besides applications everything you had to prepare,” she said. “You have to send transcripts and GRE scores to all the schools. It’s time consuming. It’s much more complicated than I remembered for the undergraduate process.”