Why a Virtual Information Session is the Best First Step in Exploring Graduate School

Georg Sperle, Graduate Student Ambassador

 

 

 

Last July, I moved from Missoula, Montana to Portland, Oregon to pursue my Master of Fine Arts in poetry at Portland State University. Having worked for a few years after receiving my bachelor’s, the prospect of going back to school in a completely new city was a little daunting, to say the least.

This fall, I put to use some of my own experiences in the application process and became a Graduate Student Ambassador. Ambassadors aim to make the journey through the application to attending PSU as easy as possible. We are all enrolled, full-time graduate students from various programs across the university and we are the first point of contact in the Graduate School, whether you call or email.

One of our most exciting tasks is conducting the information sessions that the Graduate School has always offered. These sessions include meeting prospective graduate students and introducing them to the friendly side of the admissions process and to get their questions answered directly. These in-person sessions were traditionally held on Mondays and Thursdays. Now, using video conferencing software, we have fine-tuned these sessions and will be offering them virtually, at our usual times, but also with greater flexibility in mind for those working professionals and parents who need to attend evening or weekend sessions.

What are virtual sessions?

The Graduate School uses Zoom for its virtual sessions. Info sessions are a great choice for anyone who wants to learn more about Graduate School at PSU and the admissions process. This is a good first step for anyone who isn’t sure where to start in the application process, or if you would just like to (virtually) speak with someone who has gone through the process and can provide some advice.

How do virtual sessions work?

Email an Ambassador at gradschool@pdx.edu, to set up a time to meet with us. We offer group sessions from 11:30 am to noon on Mondays and Thursdays (PST), but our hours are flexible. If you can’t make one of those half-hour slots, feel free to email us and we will arrange for a time that works with your schedule.

Once we’ve decided on a date and time for your info session, we will email you a calendar invite to a Zoom meeting.

What will the virtual info session cover?

We will discuss the programs we offer and the application process at Portland State. We’ll also cover the various campus facilities and services, including some that are often forgotten or not well known. We will share information about funding your education. If you are unsure about how you will find funding for school, we have some tips. We can help you find your program requirements and deadlines, and help you find any other answer you need.

After the session, we provide attendees with the contact information for the program assistant for each respective program. Our inboxes are open to anyone who has questions at any time. We also discuss academic advising and services within the Graduate School so you don’t have to search on your own to figure out who to talk to.

I know all-too-well just how nerve-wracking it can be to head into the many unknowns of graduate school. In hindsight, if I had been able to attend an information session before I applied, I would have felt much more guided through the graduate admissions and onboarding process. This is why info sessions are so helpful for prospective graduate students: after attending one of these sessions, you will have a contact in the Graduate School who can help you navigate uncharted territory. As a Graduate Student Ambassador, I am happy to make the application process smoother for applicants like you.

Email an Ambassador at gradschool@pdx.edu, to set up a time to meet with us for a virtual information session!