By: Rehana Sancho
The CUNY Welcome Center holds an information session for undergraduates hoping to attend a CUNY graduate program. The information session offers students information on graduate programs, application process, financial aid, and tips for getting into graduate school.
The CUNY Welcome Center is located at 217 East 42 street in Manhattan. The center holds numerous informational sessions like the graduate school 101 session, international students graduate session, and a variety of master’s programs informational sessions.
The welcome center hopes to inform students as much as they can before students enter a graduate program.
According to CUNY’s graduate guide, CUNY is the “nation’s leading urban public university.” Students are informed of CUNY’s 800+ graduate programs and the 160 graduate majors offered on many CUNY campuses.
Gerry Martini, a CUNY graduate advisor and session host, explains to students before they enter graduate school that knowing and picking the right major is essential. Students aren’t allowed to switch majors as freely as they did in their undergraduate.
Martini explains the application process consists of an applicant statement, 2-3 letters of recommendation, an official transcript, and the required standardized test applicable to the degree.
He also warns that all programs expect their own applications so you must research every program you apply to. “Just because you qualify for one program doesn’t mean you will qualify for all,” explains Martini.
An application statement should be tailored towards the students perspective major. Martini advises, “no personal stories, the committee wants to know why you are good for their program.”
Students who are interested in a business major should highlight their business attributes, not just their perfect attendance record.
Letters of recommendation should be completed, preferably, by a professor who is in the field your degree will be in. A professor in your field will know what appeals toward a panel of his peers, which is ultimately a plus for your recommendation letter.
Students will have to complete the standardized test that applies to their field. For most masters degrees you will have to complete the GRE, for a law program the LSAT, and for medical program the MCAT.
Getting a good grade on your standardize test can help if you don’t have the greatest GPA, or letters of recommendation, according to Martini.
CUNY students applying for a CUNY graduate program have some advantages. “Some of the graduate school’s professor are also professors in CUNY undergrad classes,” explains Martini. Having a professor write a recommendation that is already known in the graduate system is a plus for a student.
The City University of New York Counseling Assistantship Program (CUNYCAP) allows students, who have received a Bachelor’s degree from CUNY, to work part time on CUNY Campuses. Students are paid $10 per hour and can earn a total of $3,000 a semester.
Participants who work a total of 225 hr. during the semester will earn tuition reimbursement for up to 6 credits. Even though tuition varies by graduate program, this can be a tremendous help for previous CUNY students.
CUNY also offers a Ph.D. fellowship for qualifying candidates to help financially with their programs. According to CUNY, qualified Ph.D. students can receive a $25,000 stipend, free tuition, and low cost health insurance per year. Though this opportunity is highly competitive, it is worth looking into.
Jordan Swisher graduated from his undergrad several years ago but is looking into attending graduate school to receive a masters degree in English. Swisher explain, “CUNY seems to be on par with other private graduate schools.”
Swisher expressed interest in that the CUNY Graduate programs are like “seven schools in one” making it an easier to add variety to his choice.
Martini explained, “CUNY English department is top ten in the country,” which is an added plus to attending a CUNY Graduate program.
Famous CUNY graduate alumni include Iyanla Vanzant, who graduated from CUNY Law in 1988, before she became an author, life coach and inspirational speaker as well as former Secretary of State/Joint Chief of Staff Colin Powell, who graduated from City College in 1958. New York Times published author, Hayden Herrera, who wrote the book Frida: A Biography of Frida, also graduated from the CUNY graduate center with a Ph.D.
Ashley Venable, a Pace University graduate student and teacher for the Department of Education, is interested in CUNY’s journalism program. “I love the fact that CUNY’s graduate classes are mostly at night, this way I can work and still have a large choice of night time classes.”
Graduate school is a big step, it requires a lot of planning. Swisher feels students should wait before joining graduate school because “real world experiences can help you when you apply for grad school”. So, students should take their time and make the right choice, not the rushed choice.