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Student Success Stories

Trevor Spoelma

Trevor Spoelma

What things were you looking for while searching for a graduate or professional school program?

I was looking for a graduate program that had a good reputation of producing high quality research and placing students in top-tier management schools. I was also looking for the opportunity to work with productive faculty with whom I shared similar research interests.

What advice might you give to an undergraduate about their graduate or professional school search or application process?

Start preparing early to build a competitive application. Even a year or two into your undergraduate career I’d recommend creating a list of things you’ll need to have for a great application (e.g. research experience, conference presentations, test scores) so you can create a plan with goals to make sure you have them. Also, when applying to schools, I’d recommend applying as broad as possible. Many graduate programs are quite competitive and there is a lot of variability in terms of how good the other applicants will be, which faculty are taking students, and where there is funding. It is always better to have options than to not get any offers.

What opportunities did you take advantage of to help prepare yourself for graduate or professional school?

To prepare myself, I sought out research experience by working in the lab of a psychology department faculty member. I also got involved with the human resources management student club as a way to stay current with relevant topics in the business field. Asking for advice and mentorship from faculty members in my field was also an effective way to prepare.

How did you distinguish yourself from other candidates applying?

As my graduate program is research-focused, I was able to distinguish myself from the other candidates by already having a good amount of research experience from my undergraduate years. I also had research interests that were aligned with projects that faculty members were currently working on.

What were the main factors you considered important when comparing grad/professional schools?

I considered the program’s record of placing students, opportunities to receive training from faculty with whom I had research fit, assistantship requirements, funding, resources to do research, program requirements, and location of the university.

Was there a process or strategy that you used to narrow down your top schools of choice?

The main strategy I used was to evaluate each of the schools in terms of my selection criteria. Visiting the programs and talking to the faculty and students are also very helpful in getting a sense of how well you “fit.”

What approaches and techniques did you use to prepare for a standardized test? How often? Did you find that successful?

To prepare for the GRE, I bought a test preparation booklet that had example questions and sample tests. Starting a couple months before I took the test, I worked through these questions for a couple hours every week. As the test date got closer, I took full-length sample tests to simulate the test environment and condition myself. There are also a lot of tips online that provide useful test-taking strategies and help you mentally prepare for the test. I found this method to work for me, as I didn’t feel like I was cramming for the test.

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