By Sarah Uzzi G’21
Making the decision to go to graduate school is exciting. It can also be overwhelming and nerve-racking. Saint Rose graduate student Sarah Uzzi shares tips and insights from her personal experience.
When I started my undergraduate career, I never expected I would want to earn any degree beyond a bachelors. But the second I declared psychology as my major, something amazing happened: I suddenly knew grad school was something that was a very real possibility.
A few years later, I found myself happily (and busily) working on my master’s degree in school psychology at Saint Rose.
I learned a lot in the process of choosing and applying to my school, and I wanted to share the steps I took, and the lessons I learned from my experiences.
Step 1: Choosing your degree
The first step in choosing a graduate school was deciding what degree I was interested in attaining. I knew I wanted to work with children and adolescent youth in the psychology field.
I reached out to a trusted professor and picked her brain on the options that this field offered. After narrowing my choices to clinical psychology, school psychology, and counseling, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in school psychology.
Then came the hard decision: Should I apply to a master’s or a doctoral program? For my field, the decision wasn’t so black and white. Earning a doctorate would allow me to provide services in a private practice, but both degrees would allow me to work in schools, which was my ultimate goal.
After talking with my professor, and participating in workshops spearheaded by school psychologists, I decided to apply to both degree programs to keep my options open.
Step 2: Choosing your location
Deciding where I wanted to live for the next couple years was a big deal. This is a personal choice that depends on your conditions and priorities. You may be choosing a graduate school based on where you currently reside and have employment. Or you may have the flexibility to move pretty much anywhere you like.
In my case, I had left my home in Long Island to go to college in North Carolina. After four years there, I decided it was time to come back up north. I limited myself to looking at graduate programs in a couple of the northern states. This not only narrowed down my options for choosing a school, but it also allowed me to plan where I would potentially be living for the next few years.
Step 3: Talking to colleges
When I was deciding where to apply, I took it upon myself to reach out to the graduate admissions offices at each potential college. Looking at college’s websites to find basic information on what they offer was a good first step, but I found it important to speak with someone directly.
When you speak with the admissions staff, their team can share information that isn’t on the website. I found that it was also a good way to have my name recognized within the admissions office. Building a positive relationship with someone in admissions can help you feel more comfortable contacting them with any questions throughout the application process.
When I reached out to Saint Rose, the admissions staff members were gracious enough to put me in touch with the department chair of the school psychology program, Dr. Andrew Shanock. Dr. Shanock took time out of his busy schedule to tell me all about the program, and the application process. He made it clear that he was someone who would be responsive to any questions I had. This interaction made it clear to me how Saint Rose cared for their students, and it made me excited to apply.
Without reaching out to Saint Rose, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to talk with a professor before the application process began, and I would have missed the comfort and confidence that I gained by speaking to an actual faculty member in the program I wanted to join.
Want to learn more about the process – and find out what else happened on Sarah’s journey? Look for Choosing a Grad School, Part 2! Do you want to talk to an admissions counselor today and have your questions answered? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518.454.5143.
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