Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today’s post kicks off our “Why Warner?” series. During my first year as a Warner student and blogger, I told you about how I first became interested in higher education, and gave you some insight into the Warner application experience. Now, as a second-year master’s student about to graduate, I’ll share how and why I came across and ultimately chose Warner to pursue my professional degree.
As an undergraduate student at Nazareth College, I bounced back and forth between majors, initially unsure about what I wanted to do. My original plan was to teach high school English and theater, but then, under the recommendation of my freshman year RA, I became an admissions ambassador. I gave campus tours, worked for the social media team, sat on panels at open house events, and reached out to prospective students and their families. I knew I wanted to keep working with students, but wasn’t really conscious of the fact that I could do so in a professional setting. One of my professors told me about the HESA program at the U of R, and after some research, I was hooked!
As a Rochester native, and the daughter of a U of R affiliate (my dad did his postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Visual Science), coming here had always been in my subconscious, and the Higher Ed program aligned perfectly with my goals. My eighth-grade science teacher graduated from Warner with his EdD, and we chatted about its merits (unbeknownst to me, he sent an unsolicited recommendation of me to the professor who is now my advisor!). I made initial contact with the admissions staff, and began the application process. I found it to be far easier than that of undergrad! Because the U of R is decentralized, and Warner functions as its own entity, staff members always answered my questions promptly, and made sure to cultivate that close-knit, familial feel Warner upholds. I attended any open house event or accepted students days available, and accepted my degree offer and assistantship positions soon after!
As a prospective student, I had a lot of personal connections to the U of R as a whole, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. Warner’s variety of program offerings, renowned faculty, and supportive staff stand out in the graduate school search, and those distinguishing factors were and are part of my “how” as well.
When I connect with prospective students, one of their most common questions is about the personal statement required in the application. I always recommend that in it, they answer two questions: What can Warner do for you? What can you do for Warner?
For some students, pursuing a graduate degree a more intentional and researched choice. When I decided to get my master’s, I spent a fair amount of time digging into the HESA program faculty member’s backgrounds and research interests, specific class options, and available assistantship positions. Out of all of the institutions I considered, Warner placed the most emphasis on the value of diversity. I came in wanting to study equity in higher education, and was able to find that in many facets of my classes, but also in my practice as a graduate assistant and intern. I knew that was what Warner could do for me: afford me opportunities to increase and explore diversity and equity inside and outside of the classroom. Additionally, many of the current students I spoke with as a prospect held two or more assistantship positions at once; I was hungry for that same pre-professional experience, and discovered just how multifaceted my Warner experience could be.
What I could do for Warner, however, was a tougher question to answer. We talk in my classes about impostor syndrome, something a lot of grad students feel moving through their degrees: you may ask yourself, am I qualified to be in this position? Is everyone around me more qualified? Despite my array of higher ed experiences, I’ve definitely dealt with bouts of this, so articulating what I could bring to the table was difficult at first. In retrospect, I think that one of the great things about the Higher Ed program, and Warner in general, is that students hail from many different backgrounds. My friends in my “fauxhort” are a variety of ages, majored in everything from psychology to business, are domestic and international, and have very little to years of experience as higher ed professionals. Warner showed me how to value my personal experiences, as well as how to apply them to my practice and in the classroom. My “why” is unique, as are the “whys” of all Warner students.
I hope that my Warner experience thus far gives you some insight into our core values! Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, and if you have any questions about the admissions process, feel free to reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meliora!