During the fall semester of 1990, a total of 1,573,637 students attended graduate school in institutions of higher education in the United States. Additionally, 273,603 students were enrolled in professional schools (i.e., law, medicine, theology) (United States Department of Education, 1992). To whom does an undergraduate turn when he or she is considering attending graduate school? Some students may speak with an academic advisor, whereas others may seek out the counsel of a faculty member or parent.
On the Ball State University campus, students who were considering attending graduate school often went to Career Services for assistance. Although this office, like many other career services/placement offices, had primarily served the needs of graduating students looking for professional employment, it seemed appropriate that the office could also help with a broader range of postgraduate opportunities, including attending graduate or professional school.
The idea of students going to the career services/placement office for graduate school information is not new. The standards and guidelines developed for career planning and placement by the Council for the Advancement of Standards for Student Services/Development Programs (1988) maintain that career planning and placement services should help students to "explore the full range of life and work possibilities including graduate and professional preparations" (p. 24). Career experts have also said that the career office should be a resource for students seeking information about graduate or professional school (Beaumont, Cooper, & Stockard, 1980; Powell, 1974).
THE GRADUATE STUDIES AWARENESS PROGRAM
In response to this need, Career Services at Ball State University established the Graduate Studies Awareness Program (GSAP) in 1992. Key professionals from across the campus developed a program that would meet the needs of students considering attending graduate or professional school. The GSAP advisory committee, chaired by an assistant director of Career Services, was composed of a staff member from each of the following offices: Scholarships and Financial Aid, the Counseling and Psychological Services Center, the Graduate School, and Academic Advising. Additionally, the coordinator of Elliott Hall (a senior residence center), the coordinator of the Career Resource Center from Career Services, the premed advisor, an undergraduate student, and a graduate student served on the committee.
The committee took as its charge evaluating Career Services' proposal to develop a centralized service to help students who were considering attending graduate or professional school. The committee constructed the following statement to guide the program.
The purpose of the Graduate Studies Awareness Program at Ball State University is to function as a centralized service assisting students who are considering attending graduate or professional schools. The program helps educate students about opportunities for graduate study, offers information on gaining admission to graduate and professional schools, and helps students identify campus professionals in academic and administrative areas who have knowledge about graduate and professional programs.
Information relating to whether or not an individual should consider attending graduate or professional school was provided through workshops and resources available in the career resource center (Greene & Minton, 1989; Keith-Spiegel, 1991; Peters, 1992). The committee decided, however, that it was best that professional staff in Career Services not actively seek to counsel students regarding the decision or the need to attend graduate or professional school. They believed that counsel on graduate school decisions would more appropriately come from faculty members, academic advisors, or parents. The role of the Career Services office would be to raise an awareness of the graduate school option and to provide information on graduate school application processes. …