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Applying to Graduate School? These Books that May Help.


Whether you’ve already made up your mind to apply or are in the consideration stage, chances are you have some questions or may even feel like you are on an island, wondering should or why did I.

We understand. Years of speaking to students have taught us that sometimes our minds are the most significant battle in deciding to attend or getting through grad school. And chances are, if you’re considering grad school, you’re probably a reader. So, we’ve decided to give you some options for your holiday gift list this year. 

Our first recommendation is bound to have you laughing and grateful that you made the purchase. While published in 2004, it’s still considered a must-read for grad students. According to the description, Playing the Game: The Streetsmart Guide to Graduate School simplifies even the most complex aspects of grad school. 

“Authors Frank and Stein have broken down Playing The Game into three hilarious and straightforward sections. In whatever stage of graduate school you find yourself, rest assured that you will never again grumble, “If only I had known!” 

We think that sounds like practical advice, and who can’t use a laugh these days!

We know you will be writing a lot in grad school, so getting some help is always good. According to several studies writing apprehension is a very real thing. Our second recommendation, How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing (2018 New Edition) Second Edition by Paul Silvia, seems to make a lot of must-have book lists for grad students. 

Keepinspiring.me shared,

How to Write a Lot covers bad habits, common excuses, and practical strategies to help students, researchers, and professors become more prolific writers.”

We don’t need a study to know that writing assignments are often delayed to the last moment. Whether in grad school or not, this book sounds like it would help. No more excuses!!

Our final recommendation goes beyond pleasure reading (humor) and writing and tackles that fear that (for many) is greater than death itself. Yes, you guessed it – group presentations!!

Whether you plan to teach or not, most graduate students will find themselves presenting at some point along the way. Teaching College: The Ultimate Guide to Lecturing, Presenting, and Engaging Students, by Norman Eng, is a must-have.

We love the fact that Teaching College is described as, 

“an approachable blueprint for learning the necessary graduate school skills of presenting, lecturing, teaching, and engaging.”

Those are skills we can all use along the way regardless of what path we walk down. 

If you haven’t decided to apply yet, that’s ok – these books will give you some fun (and practical) advice and motivate you to go after your dreams. And, if you have applied, consider them part of your arsenal for success. 

Graduate school isn’t for everyone, but no doubt, differentiating yourself in the job market is becoming increasingly important. Whether you are doing it for personal reasons or because it’s required in the field you’ve chosen, many have walked the path before you. These authors are just a few. 

Ready to apply? We’re here to help.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Adulting on Campus in the Summer

I never understood adulthood until I had to buy my own silverware. While I was excited to start my new independent life (and first full summer out of my parents’ house), I was nervous to take on the responsibility of taking full care of myself. I couldn’t rely on late night burritos from Baker if I was hungry or the complimentary toilet paper in the residence hall bathrooms if I decided to eat the burritos.

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Why I chose Juniata

Tessa Senel
Tessa Senel ’21, Professional Writing POE

Growing up in New Jersey, I had never heard of Juniata before. While I was in high school, students were always talking about big state schools and other public universities—but small schools were never mentioned. It wasn’t until my high school hosted a “college and career fair” back in 2015, that Juniata College became a name that I would never forget.

As I was walking around my high school’s “college and career fair” I noticed that the tables with Admissions Counselors from state schools were overcrowded with students trying to talk to them. As I was walking, I noticed one table that had nobody standing around it—and that table had a banner hanging from it that read, “Juniata College.” I decided to give this school a try. As I approached, the Admissions Counselor from Juniata greeted me with the biggest smile that I had seen that day and they enthusiastically welcomed me to their table. They told me about Juniata’s “Program of Emphasis (POE)” system, which allows you to individualize your degree and make it your own. Then, the Admissions Counselor told me about Juniata’s immersive learning environment. Immediately I was awestruck by Juniata—the Admissions Counselor was enthusiastically helping me, the curriculum seemed personal, and the community appeared to be extremely friendly.

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Life as a Juniata Student Interviewer

Caroline Benfer
Caroline Benfer ’21

I interviewed with Terri Bollman-Dalansky for the student assistant admissions counselor position in the middle of the Summer over zoom in 2020. I had a nice shirt on and tried to find a relatively blank wall to set up my laptop in front of. I think in my head I had hoped that “normal life” would resume in time to get back on campus and meet perspective students.

After learning that the pandemic was far from over, I realized that being a student interviewer would look different compared to friends who had the job in previous years. When I found out that I had the Juniata Associate position I was still planning on spending my Fall semester at Raystown Field Station. Being remote from campus and with the limited number of prospective students coming to Juniata, myself and the two other student interviewers were not able to conduct any interviews during the Fall semester.

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How Juniata Helped Me Get into Dental School

Maggie Peck
Maggie Peck ’21 Biology/ Pre-Dentistry POE

When I was in high school, I realized that I wanted to be a dentist. However, I did not have the slightest clue how I was going to get there. The journey to become a dentist involves a variety of steps. Dental schools are competitive, looking for well-rounded, compassionate, insightful candidates. Before you plan to matriculate into dental school, you must take the Dental Admission Test (DAT), score in the competitive range, and apply to schools of interest. If a school likes your application and feels that you are qualified, they will offer you an interview to determine if you are the right ‘fit’ for that particular school. Once admitted, you must complete another 4+ years of schooling in order to become a dentist. Daunting, right? As a high schooler, I was overwhelmed.

At Juniata College, I was fortunate to receive ample guidance which made this process simpler. In my first semester, I met with Dr. Jim Borgardt who was assigned as my academic advisor.  Dr. Borgardt advises all of the pre-dentistry students at Juniata, which means that he knows a lot about the admissions process for dental school. We meet every semester, helping to track my progress and keep me on pace for my goals. He also is an awesome guy who has made my overall experience at Juniata a great one.

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