“My family members have completed a graduate degree, so I guess I should too.”
“I am not sure what I want to do after graduation. So, I am looking at options.”
“Not sure what I am interested to study. What programs do you offer?”
These are examples of statements we heard time and time again from prospective students who were considering a graduate degree. As professionals in university recruitment, we both started to wonder what resources are available to students as well as how the graduate experience and information trickles down. A quick search resulted in a small selection of published books (usually from the perspective of professors) and scant online material (University Affairs and Higher Education Strategy Associates). We tried to find articles that reflected a Canadian landscape, told from multiple voices (e.g., current and graduates, staff who work/mentor graduate students, professionals who completed a graduate degree) and highlighted diverse experiences within research (e.g., positive or not). We did not find many that met these criteria.
In 2017, Grad Matters was born. Since its inception, this column is written for prospective students who are curious about graduate school and for professionals who work with students that may be looking for resources or advice about graduate studies. It is freely available online and it has evolved over its five years. At the start, we tackled foundational questions about the application process and funding, with articles written by us (at the time, Niem managed the graduate recruitment portfolio while Matthew directed the recruitment office at Concordia University). Then, we sought help from colleagues within academia who generously donated their ideas and produced more practical topics around networking, career options post-graduation, and application materials. During the pandemic, we quickly pivoted to topics that were timely, such as creating connections remotely and carving out time to study and thrive. More recently, our topics have been wide and varied, all touching tangentially to the graduate school experience (e.g., an “inside” look at the Rhodes interview process, study space optimization).
As we celebrate Grad Matters’ fifth birthday and look towards the future, our commitment remains true to the original principles. The articles continue to be focused on the experiences of students, domestic and international, who are studying across the country. As of 2021, the writers are exclusively graduate students or recent graduates who pitch the stories that reflect their interests. They are paid fairly for their contributions and they have copyright of the published material.
Finally, we offer comprehensive storytelling about the graduate experience, the happy stories and the elephants in the room (e.g., a forthcoming article on toxic research environments). In continuing our commitment to an informed decision-making process for graduate school, we continue to seek out writers across Canada.
What topics about the graduate school experience remain untold? How could you add to the ongoing conversation? If you are interested in being a contributor, please connect with us on LinkedIn or contact Tara Siebarth (UA Web Editor) to get in touch with us.