Pew College Society helps students plan for graduate school

As graduation draws near for some, the Pew College Society seeks to prepare students interested in continuing their academic career beyond their bachelor’s degrees by providing workshops, seminars, books, financial aid and mentoring.

Director of the Pew College Society and professor in the English department Joseph Bentz, Ph.D. saw the need for students to become more aware of the graduate programs in their respective fields.

“The Pew College Society was formed to fill a gap that often exists in undergraduate students’ understanding of what graduate school is and how they can get there,” Bentz said. “Many students, even if they do well in their majors, are confused about the next steps to take. Pew helps students discover whether graduate school is for them or not, and if it is, how they can choose which ones to apply to, how they can improve their chances of getting in and how they can know what to expect once they get there.”

These workshops supply students with information pertinent to their acceptance into graduate school and their overall understanding of the programs available. Some of the workshops include GRE training, “Everything You Need to Know About Graduate School” and “Writing the Graduate School Essay.” Workshop participants are also offered a 10 percent discount on Kaplan’s GRE courses.

After achieving a master’s in British and American Literature and a Ph.D. in 20th Century American Literature from Purdue University, Bentz is familiar with the world of graduate school.

“In many fields, graduate school is a crucial step in fully entering the profession that the student studied as an undergraduate,” Bentz said. “Many of the Pew members, for instance, are psychology majors. In many fields of psychology, some kind of master’s degree or Ph.D. is necessary in order to get a job.”

However, Bentz does not believe that this is the case for all majors. He expects some of those who participate in the society to take a year or more in deciding to apply for a graduate program or work at various internships before transitioning into graduate school.

The Pew College Society has kept a record of students who have gone on to graduate school, and these students have been accepted into schools across the nation and abroad.

According to Bentz, hundreds of Pew members have been accepted into graduate schools including Oxford University; the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); the University of Southern California (USC); Azusa Pacific University (APU); Drew University; Duke University; Vanderbilt University; Emory University; Fuller Theological Seminary; Yale Divinity School; Princeton Theological Seminary; Drew Theological School; the University of California, Riverside (UCR); Oregon State University (OSU); Trinity College Dublin.

Courtney Frybarger, a student participant currently working toward a master’s in Social Work , has received help from Pew in choosing where to apply for a graduate program.

“The Pew Society has helped me understand graduate programs by equipping me with pertinent information, empowering me to use my academic skills in my specific field and ultimately [helping me] apply to a program with confidence that I have everything I need to be successful in my advanced studies,” Frybarger said.

The society also helped Frybarger with the financial aspect of her graduate program.

“The society provided necessary funds to allow me to travel to a Master of Social Work Program to view and tour the school and see if it was a candidate for my graduate studies,” Frybarger said. “Without the funds, I would not have had the opportunity to explore that option. I am so grateful that the Pew Society exists simply to enable me to pursue my passions by filling a need that otherwise would have been a barrier.”

Sara Flores said Pew has made the graduate school application process approachable and accessible.

“Being paired with a faculty mentor, in particular, has been wonderful,” Flores said. “He has helped me to think more critically about what I am looking for in a graduate program and the types of programs that will complement my skills and career goals.”

Flores is working toward starting the Master of Arts in Publishing and Writing program at Emerson College within the next year.

The next workshop is on Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m. in the LAPC Banquet Room. Pew College Society membership is open to all majors.

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