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Soaring Higher: The Transition to Grad School

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Being a relatively small public institution, FGCU only offers 26 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. For most of the undergraduate population who may be looking to attend graduate school, this means they will have to leave the nest to pursue anything beyond their bachelor’s degree. For that reason, FGCU tries to equip its students the best they can through internship opportunities and requirements, professional development opportunities, offering chances for students to get involved and more.

Certain majors, such as communication studies and criminal justice, require that their students complete an internship as part of their courses in the major. Other majors, such as business management, offer their students the choice between an elective or an internship credit. The FGCU Office of Internships and Cooperative Programs offers students the chance to complete an internship for academic credit and assistance throughout the process of finding and selecting an internship. The Honors College even offers its students the chance to work and live in Washington, D.C., while completing requirements for both the Honors program and a student’s individual major. Internships help students choose their career path, make connections and make them more competitive for graduate schools. Students with majors considered to be in the field of liberal arts (political science, communication studies, etc.) are even eligible for a $1,800 PAGES grant for completing their unpaid internship.

FGCU also offers students professional development opportunities. From the Multicultural Leadership Development Center’s (MLD) Emerging Eagles mentorship program for underclassmen to digital badging to Azul’s closet, FGCU has set students up for success. The MLD provides students with chances to learn from their peers and expand upon their goals, even allowing former cohort members to become peer mentors after completing their programs. In terms of digital badging, FGCU offers industry-specific, continuing education and transferable skills badges. Students can use their prior academic assignments as artifacts toward the completion of their portfolio, and the typical portfolio only requires six papers/assignments (3 artifacts minimum and a 250-word summarization of each artifact). FGCU is one of a small handful of institutions to offer their students digital badging opportunities, giving students a free tool to make them and their applications that much more competitive.

On top of all the professional networking and development opportunities (including some not listed), the Center for Career and Exploratory Advising offers a service called Azul’s Attire, where students can go and pick out one free professional outfit per semester. Whether it be for your internship, graduate school interviews, or a class presentation, students can use this free resource to help themselves appear more professional, which can go a long way when trying to establish rapport with graduate programs or jobs that make connections to graduate schools. The Center for Career and Exploratory Advising also offers advising sessions where students can review their resumes and/or personal statements and can even help connect students with graduate programs in their chosen field. I have even used advising services to help me craft my personal statement for my law school applications.

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FGCU’s opportunities for involvement seem never ending, and they give students a chance to find leadership roles in fields they are personally invested in. From founding their own nonprofits and registered student organizations to joining Student Government or the Model United Nations, students have a chance to add activities to their resume that are unique to the FGCU experience. FGCU is also one of only two public institutions in the entire country that requires their students to complete service hours, giving them a competitive edge over peers in their age group who stopped completing service hours after high school.

With professional and academic resources, endless opportunities for involvement and internship chances galore, FGCU provides students with resources to better equip themselves for graduate programs and beyond. Those looking to soar higher only need to look into what is available to them.

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