School of Graduate and Professional Studies
From the Dean : Success Tips for Graduate StudentsThe School of Graduate and Professional Studies actively seeks the success of each graduate student in our degree and certificate programs. We are delighted with the array of graduate students in our programs: by current count they are represent 61 countries, in addition to the United States. Many of our students take some or all courses online, engaging in a virtual classroom environment with interesting and accomplished classmates around the globe. So to each of our students: Earning a graduate degree places you in an elite group in the United States and the world. Few have the privilege of reaching this level of accomplishment. With a graduate credential, you will be looked up to by others as a leader with professional expertise. In the United States alone, less than 10 percent (estimates range from 6+ to 9.4 percent) of the population over age 25 has earned an advanced degree. That being the case, it is important that each of you master the elements of truly professional behavior not only as a graduate student, but throughout your life.
With the impressive array of experience and background that characterizes our graduate students, we have discovered that for many, the following tips may be useful in achieving that goal.
- Get to know your faculty.
Your faculty are your most important contacts in graduate school. Ideally you want to drop by their offices and visit, but if that is not feasible, you still want to get to know them personally, by email or other mechanisms. Not only do they provide an invaluable classroom learning opportunity but they are your best resource for letters of recommendation and networking with other professionals. Undoubtedly, you are seeking further opportunities in your career or additional graduate study. Understand that your instructors are key to your goal achievement. Get to know them, learn from them and take their advice.
- Work positively with faculty.
Building on the above point, you want to work positively with your teachers. Keep in mind that all faculty are not alike. Our instructors are accomplished individuals who have different teaching and communication styles. Working with them provides real-world experience.
- Attend to your writing skills.
The importance of this point cannot be overstated. You present yourself with your writing. Do not submit first drafts of any assignment. To be blunt, this is graduate school. Misspelled words, incomplete sentences, unsubstantiated assertions, etc., are not acceptable. They are not acceptable if you desire to pursue a doctorate, if you apply for a grant or if you apply for a job. Check with your instructors about writing requirements, the style guide required and so forth. Note that some specifics are likely to differ with various faculty, which is to be expected.
- Do not plagiarize.
Plagiarism—copying the work of others without attribution—is very harmful to you. Read carefully the Park University academic honesty policy. Check the requirements in each class. Remember, it is fine to draw on the work of scholars but be sure to give them credit. You never want to take credit for anything you did not do. Besides, students who plagiarize may not get the best letter of recommendation, as you can appreciate.
- Get to know fellow students.
Your classmates are remarkable, interesting and accomplished. Get to know them. Work well with them in groups and teams. One of them may want to hire you after graduation.
- Print off-course content in online classes.
You want to keep all of your class notes as you go through your program of study. These notes will assist you with other classes in your program. If you take courses online, you should print the class lectures and other materials from the online classroom for later use. Set up a binder for each class. This also will help you prepare for comprehensive exams.
- Write courteous and professional e-mails.
You don’t want to neglect your good writing skills when it comes to emails (see tip #3). In addition, remember that you are presenting yourself to the recipient in an email message. You want to be kind, courteous and clear. You want your email communications to reflect a professionalism that becomes you. Always give the benefit of the doubt—don’t assume you are being ignored (the email may not have arrived at its intended destination).
- Visit the Graduate School website often for updates.
We will be updating the website on a regular basis with new information that we hope will be helpful to you, so please check in with us often, not only while you are a student but after you graduate.
- Use your Park e-mail address even after you graduate for helpful information.
Your park.edu email address is a lifetime gift from the University. The University sends updates and information to this address, so be sure and check it or have it forwarded.
- Become part of a professional organization.
If you are not already part of a professional organization in your field or in your intended field, work with your graduate program director to join one nationally and in your area. Such organizations provide continued learning as well as wonderful contacts and job-seeking opportunities.
Laurie N. DiPadova-Stocks, PhD.
Dean of the Park University School for Graduate and Professional Studies