Thinking About Grad School?

With registration in full swing, students are encouraged to think about their plans after graduation. One option many students consider is attending graduate school to get a Master’s degree and sometimes continue on to get their PhD. Continuing your education post-undergrad is a big decision, and it’s important to know all the factors that weigh into this choice. On Wed. Nov. 7, the English Department hosted a Grad School Panel where Drs. Snyder, Spain-Savage, and Dearing shared their own graduate school experiences and gave advice to prospective students. They primarily talked about their experience in grad school for English, but the advice they shared can largely be applied to any grad school program. Dr. Snyder explained the panel intended to “demystify” the process of applying to graduate school.

Dr. Spain-Savage talked about the importance of deadlines in graduate school, emphasizing that it is nothing like the undergraduate workload. In grad school, you impose your own deadlines, she explained, which is one of the reasons why not all graduates complete a dissertation. Unlike the strict schedules of undergrad, graduate school grants you the freedom to set your own deadlines, which can be troubling to students who struggle with time management or self-motivation. Dr. Spain-Savage also commented on the importance of finding a program that fosters and supports your area of specialization. Dr. Snyder shared his personal experience with grad school. He said, “You never feel smarter than when you’re in grad school.” Dr. Snyder emphasized the importance of doing research in the grad school search to find out where the funding is, showing that it is possible to get your Master’s and even your PhD and not have to pay for it. Dr. Dearing, fresh out of grad school last May, discussed the importance of knowing what to expect when continuing your education. She emphasized that graduate school is “not undergrad part two,” but schooling at another level. The panelists then shared their advice on applying for and attending graduate school. Another important part of applying for grad school is the application itself. Applicants usually need a certain number of letters of recommendation. Dr. Snyder emphasized the importance of asking your professors early for these letters and providing them with information to help write your letter of recommendation, like a resume, a personal statement, and a writing sample. Similarly, letters of recommendation should show different sides of you and your personality to reflect how you will fit into a particular program. Talking to current grad students is a great way to fully understand the experience. Because they are currently enrolled in programs, they will be honest and realistic about what grad school is really like. Similarly, ask graduate students what they’re doing once they graduate to get an idea of available jobs and realistic goals to set. Another helpful tip is to reach out to the department of a graduate school you’re interested in and ask to be put in contact with a graduate student.

One big concern for undergrads looking towards grad school is the debt. After finishing undergrad, most students have to begin working off their debt from student loans. All three panelists emphasized the importance of finding programs that will help fund you or at least help you pay for the process.  The takeaway? Research, research, research before applying to a program. Research can find you funding to help pay for your education and place you in an academic environment you thrive in. “You have to stay true to what you love,” Dr. Spain-Savage said. Graduate school can be a great opportunity for undergrad students to reach their potential and find themselves in the process. The panelists emphasized to not be afraid to go somewhere new, especially when you’re young. “It’s fun to live somewhere you’re not staying,” Dr. Snyder said.

Grad school is a big decision with many deciding factors and it is not for everyone. It is important to be well-informed about the goals, challenges, and benefits of attending graduate school. If grad school is something you’re considering or even just starting to think about, reach out to your professors, especially those working in your field of interest. They are great resources and are almost always willing to share their own education experience with students. Your academic advisor is also a great resource if you have questions about graduate school. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, reach out, and research the process!

Why Get a Liberal Arts Degree?

With the spring semester looming on the horizon, the registration process kicks up a lot of questions about a student’s future. Most of the conversation involving registration brings up the question college students always hear: “What do you plan to do with your degree when you graduate?” The question, of course, is valid; it’s important for students to have a sense of direction when making big decisions about the future. So why pursue a liberal arts degree? 

Many students don’t know what exactly constitutes the broad category of “liberal arts” in college. Even up until I started working in the SoLA office, I wasn’t exactly sure of what fell under the umbrella of liberal arts. Most people get the basics – English, writing, creative arts – but don’t realize the broadness of the category itself. Liberal arts includes American studies, education, history, modern languages and classics, philosophy, political science, psychology, religious studies, social work, and sociology! So a liberal arts degree isn’t just for someone interested in studying Shakespeare or analyzing Plato; it can apply to hundreds of different career paths.

A liberal arts degree prepares its students with a number of soft and hard skills that are beneficial in the job market, including reading comprehension, analytical writing, and communication skills. Similarly, pursuing a liberal arts degree does not only mean taking English and philosophy classes; students are pushed to engage in a variety of topics, including math and sciences. A liberal arts degree does not teach one specific subject matter but a variety of them, making liberal students skilled and adaptable.

So what are some of your options as a liberal arts student? The first question I am asked when I tell people I’m an English major is always: “Are you going to teach?” This is not to dismiss teaching; being an educator is a valuable, fulfilling career path. However, popular belief is often that you can only teach with an English or history degree. Teaching is not the only option for liberal arts students. Students who focus in English or writing can pursue a career in writing/editing, as a sales manager, or as a communication specialist. Also beyond teaching, students can become involved in marketing communications, business analysis, public relations, copywriting, Human Resources, or sales representation. The opportunities are truly endless with a liberal arts degree.

To end on a positive note from The Muse, “don’t let today’s STEM-driven mindset get you down. No matter your major, the world is truly your oyster. Now go land a killer gig.”

English Majors Wanted!

As an English major, I am constantly asked what my plans are after graduation. The general response I get? “Good luck finding a job!” “What do you expect to do with that?” “Why didn’t you pick a real major?” In my experience, people frequently dismiss a liberal arts degree as unnecessary, even useless. If I had a dollar for every time someone dismissed my field of study, I could make a good dent in paying off my student loans. However, these negative attitudes towards liberal arts degrees are proven largely invalid.

An article in CBS News by Aimee Picchi emphasizes the growing importance of a liberal arts degree in the eyes of employers. College students are widely unemployed, but in an underemployment rate of various majors, English majors are nowhere near the bottom at 29%, and compared with business majors at 31%. 

Picchi’s article suggests English majors and liberal arts students might have a better chance finding a job post-graduation than business or biology majors. Though popular majors are expected to perform well in the labor force, this isn’t always the outcome. Majors like business, legal studies, and social services professions are dubbed “problematic majors” by the article because they are expected to land graduates jobs. They similarly “comprise 4 in 10 bachelor’s degrees handed out by U.S. colleges” (Picchi).

Picchi explains that the main issue with these “problematic majors” is that they are preparing students for specific fields, rather than providing them with the skills to make them a “job ready adult.” Students will graduate without the necessary hard and soft skills needed for employment, making them not fully ready to enter the workforce. Picchi explains, “That’s not to say that business majors can’t find good job opportunities after graduation. But the key is focusing on developing skills that will help them stand out when they go on the job market.”

Liberal arts degrees, though unfairly considered invaluable, teach a broad range of useful skills that are adaptable to many career fields. The applications of communication skills, reading comprehension, and analytical abilities are endless. It can be frustrating to have your degree dismissed, but studies like this prove the value of a liberal arts degree. So when someone critiques your choice of major, remember that every major has value!

Have You Heard of the Promethean?

A copy of the paper from last semester

Fun fact: Siena’s Promethean newspaper is the oldest student-run club on campus, even predating the Student Senate. The newspaper is written by students and for students and is published online and in-print biweekly. I’ve been the Academic and Social News editor of the Promethean for over a year now, and I love writing and editing for the paper. 

As an editor, I work with my writers to assign them events and edit their articles, providing constructive feedback. By working on the paper, I know about all the upcoming on-campus events at Siena. It also encourages me to attend events I would not have known about otherwise. I recently attended the “Making Molecular Monsters” lecture, and I know next to nothing about chemistry, but I found the lecture fascinating! Writing for the paper encourages me to step outside of my bubble, talk to different professors and students, and helps me to be more engaged on Siena’s campus.

Students can find physical copies of the paper in the library, SSU, and Lonnstrom, and the online copy of the paper can be found here!

Welcome Home Class of 2022!

You may be wondering why I am welcoming you home… after all you are just going to Siena, right? You’re only going to be here for four years, right? It’s just a place you’re going to get your degree, right? Wrong. You may not believe me now, but this place will become your home. One day you’ll go home on winter and summer breaks and you’ll begin saying you have to go back home and you’ll mean you have to go back to Siena. It happens in the blink of an eye.

While I may be graduating and leaving this amazing place, you guys are just beginning your journey here at Siena. You may already know your major, you may not. You may know a bunch of people already at Siena, you may not know a single soul. It’s completely normal not to know what you’re doing. Almost all of us didn’t when we were in your shoes!

Since I am now an established pro of all things Siena, I figured I would give you guys some tips on how to make the most of your Siena experience:

  1. Get to know the campus
    1. There are so many nice places on campus to eat, socialize, and study. Don’t limit yourself to your dorm (or if you’re a commuter, your house). Walk around campus and into the buildings (even if you don’t have classes there) and check them out. There are hidden gems on this campus that even I don’t know about!
  2. Join clubs and organizations
    1. An amazing way to get involved on campus is by joining a Siena club! We have over 80 clubs to choose from. Look out for the club fair in the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters to check out each club for yourself.
  3. Take fun classes
    1. Seriously, even if you end up loving your major (like I did, go English!) It’s really beneficial to take a class or two that isn’t in your field and that you will actually enjoy! While Siena makes you take core classes that are non-major related, try and take a class or two that you might really enjoy! Some examples include, Sign Language, Creative Writing, a travel course, an art class, etc. The possibilities are endless!
  4. Go to professor office hours
    1. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt 10x better after speaking to my professor in their office hours. Office hours are a set amount of time that your professors are in their office to meet with students one-on-one. Even if you aren’t struggling in the class, still consider going to talk about an upcoming project, paper, or assignment. I guarantee you will get a better grade after going and seeing them!
  5. Socialize…in all different ways!
    1. Obviously there are lots of different ways to socialize here at Siena. However, it’s not as crazy as you may think. People at Siena enjoy chilling out in their dorms and watching Netflix just as much as they enjoy going out at night. And each weekend there are fun events on campus that everyone goes to! Not only is there often free food at these events (Score!) but it’s also a way to meet new people who don’t live in your dorm or are in your classes!

Three Questions with CEPD’s Alumni of the Month, Alana Strassfield!

Each month, the Career Education and Professional Development office showcases an alumni of the month. In January, Alana Strassfield was chosen. Alana graduated from Siena in 2014 with a B.A. in Economics. I asked this former Liberal Arts student 3 questions about her time at Siena!

 

1) What made you decide to pursue the Bachelor of Arts in Economics? Why the Bachelor of Arts over the Bachelor of Science?
I decided to do the B.A. so that I could take a wider range of electives and theory based Econ classes, as opposed to the core business classes which I felt I could learn at a later time.  
2) What was your favorite non-major Liberal Arts class you took at Siena?
One of my favorite non-major classes was Literature of the Enlightenment with Dr. Thomas Akstens. 
3) How did your liberal arts education prepare you for the job you have now?
My liberal arts education was inextricably tied to my work with the Women’s Center and the Damietta Cross Cultural Center. Managing projects for both campus organizations and learning how to communicate across cultures through active listening have been some of the most valuable assets that I’ve brought to the organizations I’ve worked at. 

Here’s What You Missed: “Would He Bring Her Flowers and Candy? All The Creature Wants Is a Girlfriend.”

What did you do for Valentine’s Day this year? Were you out with your S.O. or did you sit around in your dorm wondering why you were single as a Pringle?

No matter what you did, you missed out on Professor Ray Boisvert’s special Frankenstein themed presentation, “Would He Bring Her Flowers and Candy? All The Creature Wants is a Girlfriend.”

Boisvert argued that the Creature in Frankenstein wasn’t a destructive being, all he wanted was love and affection. This idea is something that all living beings need. His two main arguments were, 1) Everybody needs to be loved, and 2) The lack of touch affects the Creature negatively in Frankenstein.

He discussed how just like the Creature needed touch, people in real life also need touch to feel good. He cited a study in which monkeys were tested with their real mother versus a terrycloth fake monkey mother. The monkeys who were given the fake monkey mother were content with it and enjoyed the comfort and touch from the cloth.

Boisvert believes that through this study we can learn something about how primates act. Since primates need touch to survive, we as humans also need touch to survive. Gestures are not trivial, touch is essential.

“Tattered Pieces: A Charleston Daughter Explores Loss, Faith and Forgiveness,”

Rev. Sharon Washington Risher began her speech last night citing some words from St. Francis. She said, “As I was trolling through your school’s website I ran across this and it has stuck with me […] We must never desire to be above others but instead we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake”

This idea of “not being above others,” and “loving one another” was what Rev. Risher believed to be most important to learn from her story.  

Risher describes herself as “a proud daughter of the American south, a true Geechee girl […] and a product of the civil rights era.” Since this speech was a part of MLK week, Risher shared her own experience with Dr. Martin Luther King.

Her mother took her to a rally that Dr. King was speaking at. While she was in the back of the room and couldn’t see Dr. King, she entails that she “could hear Dr. Martin Luther King’s voice and […]  thought he sounded like God to me”

Risher unfortunately lost many loved ones when Dylann Roof, a lone gunman, entered and killed nine worshippers at the Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, SC. Among the people she lost were her mother, Ethel Lee Lance, her two cousins, Tywanza Sanders and Suzie Jackson, and a childhood friend, Myra Thompson.

Because of everything she was forced to endure because of this tragedy, she considers herself to be an “accidental activist.” Risher was interviewed for TIME magazine and the New York Times. She has also become a national advocate for gun control.

Risher ended her speech last night with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King. She quoted that,  ‘nothing will be done until people of goodwill put their bodies and their souls in motion. And it will be the kind of soul force brought into being as a result of this confrontation that I believe will make the difference.”

Noises Off!

Each year, the Creative Arts department presents their fall production. This year they presented Noises Off!

If you enjoy plays within plays. You would love Noises Off! The play is broken up into three acts but within each act they are performing one act of the play within the play, Nothing On. The entire play is set in a living room of the Brent’s country home.

I’ve never seen a play within a play type of production and it was definitely interesting! I think it’s cool because the actors and actresses that are in plays know first hand what it is like to be in a production so because of this, I think it can make for a very interesting performance.

To make it believable, inside the program for Noises Off there was a program for the play within the play, Nothing On. Not only was their a playbill but they had an entire cast list with bios and everything! I thought that was very interesting and cool that they were able to make the performance even more authentic.

I also enjoyed the fact that there were many underclassmen involved in this play. Upon reading the program, I learned that a majority of the people involved with the  play are freshman and sophomores. It’s great to see new Siena students getting involved in Stage III and Creative Arts!

As always I would like to thank the Creative Arts department and Stage III for putting on these shows every year! If you didn’t attend this production be sure to attend the next one! Not only do they do a fall performance but they always do one in the spring too!

If you’re interested in a performance by Creative Arts coming up soon, be sure to attend the Siena Chamber Orchestra performance this Thursday November 30 at 7pm in Foy Hall!

 

 

Why a Liberal Arts Degree is Better to Have Than Ever

In a day and age where STEM fields are the most lucrative jobs to go into, Liberal Arts fields tend to be stigmatized for not having a lot of jobs. I’m here to dispel this myth and explain why it’s actually amazing to have a Liberal Arts degree!

  • The concepts, ideas, and skills you learn in your Liberal Arts classes are what employers are looking for and not finding with other majors!
    • Analytical thinking is a skill that Liberal Arts majors know how to do so well. A New York Times article stated that, “the competencies that liberal arts majors emphasize — writing, synthesis, problem solving — are sought after by employers. A 2017 study by David J. Deming, an associate professor of education and economics at Harvard, found jobs requiring both the so-called soft skills and thinking skills have seen the largest growth in employment and pay in the last three decades.” This is great news!
  • Maybe in the past the salaries of Liberal Arts majors were low, but now they are increasing tremendously!
    • Andy Anderegg graduated with an English degree and went on to get her Master’s in Fine Arts. Her first job was at Groupon where she started off making $33,000 in 2010. However, she ended up rising up the ranks and now she makes well over $100,000 in 2016 (Wall Street Journal).
    • A LinkedIn study showed that over HALF of the top twenty highest paying fields were Liberal Arts majors. Some of these majors included, Visual Art, Sociology, Journalism, and History!
  • There are MANY jobs for Liberal Arts majors because our field is so diverse and we can do SO much with what we learned in school.
    • Many companies are seeking out Liberal Arts majors like English and History. For History, a Forbes article cited that “career options for history majors include intelligence analyst, management consultant, research analyst, and patient services rep.” Meanwhile, “The top positions for English majors include writer/editor, communication specialist, marketing coordinator, and sales manager.”
    • These jobs aren’t just your run of the mill office jobs. Companies that are currently hiring English and History majors include, United Healthcare, Oracle, Amazon, and the National Parks Service (Forbes).

So before your parents or your friends tell you that your useless English, History, Religion, Sociology, etc, degree isn’t going to get you a job, show them my article! Better yet, don’t feed into stigma and do your own research on a major that may have a bad rep. You may be pleasantly surprised in what you find out!