School of Graduate and Professional Studies

From the Dean : Success Tips for Graduate Students

Dr. Laurie DiPadovaStocks The School of Graduate and Professional Students actively seeks the success of each graduate student in our degree and certificate programs. We are delighted with the array of graduate students in our programs: by current count they are represent 47 different countries of the world, in addition to the United States. Many of our students take some or all courses online, engaging in a virtual classroom environment with interesting and accomplished classmates around the globe.

So to each of our students: Earning a graduate degree places you in an elite group in the United States and the world. Few have the privilege of reaching this level of accomplishment. With a graduate credential, you are looked up to by others as a leader with professional expertise. In the U.S. alone, less than 10% (estimates range from 6+% to 9.4%) of the population over 25 has earned an advanced degree. That being the case, it is important that each of you master the elements of truly professional behavior, not only as a graduate student, but throughout your life. With the impressive array of experience and background which characterizes our graduate students, we have discovered that for many, the following tips may be useful in achieving that goal.

  1. Get to know your faculty. Your faculty are your most important contacts in graduate school. Ideally you want to drop by their offices and visit, but if that is not feasible, you still want to get to know them personally, by email or other mechanisms. Not only do your instructors provide the invaluable classroom learning opportunities you receive, but they provide your best resource for letters of recommendation and networking with other professionals. Keep in mind that all faculty are not alike. Working with them provides real world experience—our instructors are accomplished individuals who have different teaching and communication styles. Undoubtedly you are seeking further opportunities in your career or additional graduate study; understand that your instructors are key to your goal achievement. Get to know them, learn from them, and take their advice
  2. Communicate positively with faculty, staff, and others. Building on the above point, you want to communicate positively with your instructors; know that they work to help you succeed. The same is true for everyone at Park University who has a role in assisting you as needed. We hold to professional standards. Note the Park University Student Conduct Code. Any use of profanity or other verbal/cyber abuse will be reported and penalties exacted.
  3. Attend to your writing skills. The importance of writing skills cannot be overstated. You present yourself to the world with your writing. Never submit first drafts of any assignment. To be blunt, this is graduate school. Misspelled words, incomplete sentences, unsubstantiated assertions, etc., are not acceptable. They are also not acceptable if you desire to pursue a doctorate, apply for a grant, or apply for a job. Check with your instructors about writing requirements, style guides required, and so forth. Note that some specifics are likely to differ with various faculty—which is to be expected.
  4. NEVER plagiarize. Plagiarism—copying the work of others without attribution—is very harmful to you. Read carefully the Park University academic honesty policy. Check the requirements in each class. Remember, it is fine to draw on the work of scholars—but be sure to give them credit. You never want to take credit for anything you did not do. Besides, students who plagiarize may not get supporting letters of recommendation, as you can well understand.
  5. Get to know fellow students. Your classmates are remarkable, interesting and accomplished. Get to know them. Work well with them in groups and teams. One of them may want to hire you after graduation.
  6. Print your own copy of course content in online classes. You want to keep all of your class notes as you go through your program of study. These notes will assist you with other classes in your program. If you take courses online, you want to print the class lectures and other materials from the online classroom for reference later. Set up a binder for each class. This will help you prepare for the comprehensive exams.
  7. Write courteous and professional e-mails. You don’t want to neglect your good writing skills when it comes to emails (see tip #3). In addition, remember that you are presenting yourself to the recipient in an email message. You want to be kind, courteous, and clear. You want your email communications to reflect a professionalism that becomes you. Always give the benefit of the doubt—don’t assume you are being ignored (the email may not have arrived at its intended destination).
  8. Visit the graduate school websites often for updates, as well as other Park University pages. We will be updating the website on a regular basis with new information that we hope will be helpful to you, so please check in with us often—not only while you are a student but after you graduate!
  9. Use your park e-mail address even after you graduate to receive helpful information. Your email address is a lifetime gift from the University! The university sends updates and information to this address, so be sure and check it—or have mail from it forwarded.
  10. Become part of a professional organization. If you are not already part of a professional organization in your field or in your intended field, work with your Graduate Program Director on participating in national professional organizations and ones in your area. Such organizations provide key continued learning as well as wonderful contacts and job-seeking opportunities!