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Anel Guel

Fourth year Peace Corps Master's International Student at Michigan State's Department of Community Sustainability

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

I was looking for a graduate program that supported the Peace Corps Master’s International program. I was looking for an interdisciplinary department that focused on international development and the environment, all the while still allowing me the freedom to complement all my work using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

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

Ask yourself why you want to go to graduate school, and if graduate school will further your professional career - answers such as, “I don’t know what else to do,” aren’t acceptable. Be mindful of loans and student debt, and try to stay away from both as much as possible. Lastly, be intentional about building up your capital in terms of hard skills and work experience.

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

The Office of Fellowships was absolutely essential during my senior year at GVSU. Amanda Cuevas helped me plan my life post-graduation. I learned about the opportunities available and applied to several competitive fellowships, schools, and programs.

How did you distinguish yourself from other candidates applying?

My hard skills, work experience, and undergraduate research.

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

There were several factors; however I took cost/funding available into very heavy consideration.

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

Again, I took the cost to attend/funding available into heavy consideration. I intensely reviewed all the schools I applied for and looked at a typical graduate degree plan and the courses I was expected to take. I made sure my advisor was a good fit for me, and even connected with current students to gain their input on the department and program.