Students take charge at Grad Fair

It is getting to that time of year again when upperclassmen need to start thinking about possible graduate schools.

Gannon University made the process a little bit easier when it held the 31st annual Graduate and Professional School Fair Tuesday in the Yehl Ballroom in the Waldron Campus Center on Gannon’s Campus.

This fair gave students from five local schools, of every undergraduate level, the chance to explore the options related to graduate degrees. Participating schools included Allegheny College, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Gannon, Mercyhurst University and Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

Graduate schools from all over the tri-state area were in attendance, including Mercyhurst, Ross University, Penn State University, St. Bonaventure University, Ohio University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Youngstown State University and Gannon.

James Finegan, director of Career Development and Employment Services for Gannon, said 57 schools presented over 100 programs for students this year.  For the amount of representatives that were in the ballroom, he said students got the chance to receive an abundance of information.

“The representatives from the schools are very knowledgeable and easy to talk to,” Finegan said. “It gave students the chance to ask a lot of questions they maybe couldn’t find the answers for. Being scared is normal for a student considering a graduate level education, and the reason they are scared is typically because they don’t have all the answers that they need.

“That is exactly what the Grad Fair is for – answering questions.”

The schools were there representing programs such as law, health professions, English, business administration, animation, print media, education, communications, nursing and many more.

Bridget Philip, a Gannon admissions representative who helps students understand and complete the application process for graduate studies, said she enjoyed students taking such a keen interest in their futures.

“I think it’s important that we have this fair because a lot of students don’t know the different programs that are available to them,” Philip said.

Student turnout has traditionally been excellent for the fair and this year was no exception. Finegan said he estimated the total amount of students in attendance to be anywhere from 150 to 200.

Laura Rutland, Ph.D., the director of the English master’s degree program at Gannon, outlined different reasons why Gannon has a unique English master’s program.

Gannon is the only local English master’s program and has a broad background in the English discipline. The evening classes accommodate students who are working and enable them to broaden their perspectives on their own personal research interests.

Rutland said only 30 graduate hours, or 10 classes, are required and there is no thesis that students need to complete. Instead, students take a directed research course designed to engage their interests.

“Our program is unlike any other,” Rutland said. “We also offer teaching assistantships, which can help with tuition remission. Not a lot of universities offer that.”

Samantha Trapp, a sophomore occupational therapy major, was one of the many students in attendance. She was busy looking at different schools that offer graduate degrees in occupational therapy.

“Even though I’m only a sophomore, I’m already looking for a graduate program,” Trapp said. “I don’t think it’s ever too early to start looking.

“I want to make sure I have a solid plan in place by the time I’m a senior so I don’t have to stress about the decision so much.”

Senior physician assistant major Jennifer Malloy said the fair is a great way to look at all the different types of graduate schools in one location. She said she is happy that so many schools attend the fair.

“It is great to see such a variety and large amount of graduate schools at the fair,” Malloy said. “A Grad Fair is almost like a condensed version of grad school shopping, and it’s an amazing opportunity to have here on my campus.”

Philip said this fair is definitely a priority at Gannon, if not a responsibility.

“Students always tell me the fair was the main reason they decided to attend graduate school,” Philip said. “I definitely think this will be going on for years to come.” 

News editor Becky Hilker contributed to this story.

SAMANTHA GRISWOLD

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