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Tips On Graduate Program Resume


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I'm applying to a graduate program starting in the Spring and am tasked with writing a resume and I'm not sure exactly how to approach it. It's an Educational Counseling M.A.Ed and I do not have any applicable experience to list. I was laid off during the beginning of the pandemic and spent the past year and a half caring for my kids while they attended online school. Just this past Summer, we moved to a new city and the kids have gone back to school in person, but my wife and I thought it best for me to continue staying at home to make sure their transition went smoothly. Unfortunately, that's 2 years gone that I could have been bolstering my experience while finishing my BA. I do have some applicable coursework but not much else besides. The admissions advisor said the resume isn't that important compared to references and a 5 page autobiographical paper, but I still don't want it to be a deciding factor against me.

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  • The title was changed to Tips On Graduate Program Resume
Member · Posted

I mean many go from undergrad to grad school.  If you have been a full time student, you shouldn’t be expected to have that much work experience.  Clearly any would help (internship/externship program?)

I’d ask your advisor/prof for help working on your application.  You should be contacting them anyways to use them as a reference.

Edited by fox
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I only finished with a 2.57 GPA as an undergrad so I doubt I'd be able to get in UK's grad program for masters in history and/or political science (though in each subject I have 1-2 500 level courses I got a B in that MIGHT count as graduate credit).  I don't suppose they could...I dunno...let me take one course and then if I make grade (grad school you're expected to get a B in every course) let me take another one and so on.  You guys are gonna think this is super silly but I was quite envious oh how smart my late wife with her two master's degrees and 140+ IQ and getting work with half the Ivy League back in her day...

Or, I thought it'd be neat to take a third BA degree in geography...though I'm not sure if my nearly 20 year old transcript/courses would still "count" towards it.  The thing is though, I obviously wouldn't be doing this to get a better higher paying job/career like I reckon most "normal" people would...

It'd simply be for personal enrichment.  For fun.

Okay go ahead and let me have it...


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Agree with @fox... If you have a BA and took some applicable coursework, then the admissions advisor sounds spot on.

Do you know why you're going to grad school and what you're going to do with the degree? Have you done some relative cost / benefit Net Present Value calculations of the outlay for grad school tuition vs. estimated incremental increase of salary over your expected career?

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Only speaking to California, educational counseling can be a bit competitive, but grad programs everywhere skew a little under-enrolled at the moment. You're correct that inexperience is a bit of a weakness, and everyone else is also correct that you shouldn't worry about it and just focus on putting together the best package you can.

As far as your resume goes, create a functional-style resume highlighting anything you've done working with students, and anything you've done in an advisory role (stretch as much as you can, even something like training coworkers in a retail setting illustrates capacity and experience). Put together the best package you can and hope for success.

If the application/admission process doesn't pan out as you'd hope, I got my start in higher education working in an admission department. They're always looking for people (it's a LOT of work a pay can be minimal), and you may be able to get into an institution that offers tuition remission so you can attain your educational goals while you learn.

Another backdoor in is to take a course or two before applying. This will depend a lot on the culture of the school. USC was the very first link that came up with a web search for "educational counseling master's" so I'll use them as an example. Linked is the course schedule and I found: EDHP 500 Foundations of Higher, Adult, and Professional Education. You can get in touch with the instructor and ask if you can take or audit the course for your own professional development. Frankly I doubt anyone at USC would say yes; they're big and a little hoity-toity, but many state school professors in the same region would be cool with it. Who knows, maybe USC would allow it. (It's good for a department's numbers to have the class cap reached, so even if there's one available seat in a course, they have good reason to allow a community member to take the course.) Reapply the next year with that credit in your resume and a rapport with the professor established.

Good luck on your apps! And remember, even if you don't get in anywhere, it doesn't mean STOP, it just means WAIT.

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Homebrew Team · Posted

The thing to keep in mind is that if you had a whole lot of relevant experience, you wouldn’t need the graduate program. A resume in an application to a grad program is more to prove you’re a hard worker and are serious about the program. It’s one piece of a larger assembly, for which your past grades, GRE or other relevant test scores, references, and writing sample are all more important. Don’t worry about having enough germane stuff to include in your resume, but to the extent you can, frame the experiences you have in ways that help inform your interest in that particular grad program.

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