Skip to main content

Kandice Pardy

SFU Student Graduate
Health Sciences › Global Health
Work-Study

empty
Person staring at laptop in deep thought or consideration
Credit
Wes Hicks on Unsplash
The journey to grad school is not a linear path, and nor should it be... Guaranteed, you will soon be that person giving advice one day!

The process of applying to graduate school is unlike any other application process, and the factors that determine the fate of a grad school application are not always what one would expect. Common-sense assumptions about how admission decisions are reached are often wrong, and certain miscalculations can doom an application to the rejection pile. For many students, the application process is steeped in uncertainty and confusion about how it works. Everyone understands it’s a competition, but not all the rules are clear. This makes it stressful and also quite perilous. 

Understandably, many students search far and wide for advice and tips on how to best handle certain aspects of their graduate school applications. However, while it may seem wise to seek advice from as many people and sources as possible, this quickly leads to a new problem: conflicting advice.

One professor might tell you it’s a good idea to contact faculty members you want to work with before applying, while another advises against it. One academic advisor tells you that GPA is the most important factor in determining who is admitted but another advisor says your statement of purpose has a larger impact. A PhD student advises that potential graduate supervisors should be chosen on the basis of research area and methods. Another student says that interpersonal compatibility should be your top criterion. One career counsellor tells you the reputation of the program or university you attend will make a big difference when you eventually join the workforce. Another will say that the reputation of the school is irrelevant and it’s the specific knowledge and skills you acquire that really matters. It is all so frustrating!

Why is there so much widely varying and often contradictory advice about how to deal with the grad school application process? And how can one make the best decisions despite receiving contradictory advice from ostensibly sound sources? 

Part of the reason is that aspects of the grad-school application process simply cannot be reduced to one-size-fits-all situations. For example, graduate programs in the fine arts or humanities select students through a small committee of faculty members but in a STEM or social science program the prospective supervisor is often making decisions about the applicant. It’s these differences, in the selection process among different program domains, which make it difficult to ascertain a direct pathway to graduate school.  

The take away from this is that it’s important to know yourself and what you want to get out of your schooling. If you are someone who is very relational, having a supervisor who is personable will matter. If you are interested in a very specific topic, picking a school that specializes in that area will become important.

All-in-all, the journey to grad school is not a linear path, and nor should it be. What one person advises you about grad school will be different from the rest, but that should not deter you from continuing to seek advice; and guaranteed, you will soon be that person giving advice one day! 

Author

Kandice Pardy

SFU Student Graduate
Health Sciences › Global Health
Work-Study
Jien Hilario photo
What’s in a Name? Coming to Terms With Labelling Myself as a Person With a Disability

If you were to see Jien on campus, you wouldn’t know that she had a disability. She does not use a wheelchair nor does she have a seeing eye dog. She has an invisible disability. In this article, Jien shares her journey on how she came to terms with labeling herself as a person with a disability. 

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere
Why Doesn’t Canada Have a Disabilities Act?

It is 2018 and Canada has not yet implemented adequate protection and legislation for people with disabilities. When it comes to equality for all, Canada is falling far behind. In this article, Jien discusses the research and reality of why Canada needs a Disabilities Act.

We Can Do It!
How to Satisfy Your Inner Activist

When people think about social justice, they think of things like protests or hunger strikes, but the options don’t end there. These volunteer organizations can help you satisfy your inner activist.

You Might Like These... Professional Development, Graduate Students

SFU graduation
Applying to Graduate School: A Students Guide

Someone once said that you should write about what you know. So when I was asked by one of the Peer Education Coordinators to write a career-related blog for their website, I felt compelled to write about the process of applying for graduate school, as I am currently applying for several schools myself.

Ryan Schmidt
Treaty Negotiations with INAC

Being an arts and social sciences student means having a vast variety of career options open to us. One of them being a treaty negotiator at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)! Read Ryan's blog to find out more about what this position entails. 

Autumn staring out into the distance, with a view of Peruvian mountains in the background
Scholarly Adventures in Peru

Q  & A's with Autumn Mochinski, a student who participated in a funded  international placement with the PAHO/ WHO to prepare an assessment of social  determinants and health and Tuberculosis in Lima, Peru.

You Might Like These... Graduate Students

A photo of the author
For a Chance at a Job, Take a Chance and Apply!

I completed my undergraduate degree without doing co-op. This meant that after graduation, I was competing for jobs with others who had work experience, while I had none. Find out how doing co-op as a PhD student allowed me to not only gain work experience, but also gave me confidence in my abilities.  

stack of books: "What is Sexual Violence?"
Understanding Sexual Violence: A Graduate Student's Perspective

Why is understanding sexual violence important as a graduate student? SFU PhD candidate, Aynsley Pescitelli, discusses some of the unique factors that create barriers to disclosure for graduate students. 

animation of graduation cap
Is Grad School the Right Next-Step?

If you are about to finish your undergraduate degree, you might be wondering if you should go to grad school. But how do you know if grad school is right for you? Srijani Datta,  breaks it down.