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Environmental Science

Graduate School

Tips & Resources for Graduate School

Top 10 Graduate School Myths

Myth: Graduate School is expensive.

Fact: Most graduate schools have funding available to support students. You should NOT have to pay for graduate school.  It is a job and they will pay you ($13,000 and up) to do research or teach.  Many also provide health benefits.

Myth: The reputation of the school is the most important aspect of deciding on graduate school.

Fact: While the reputation of the school is important, your advisor is equally important. Carefully search for a compatible advisor.

Myth: Graduate school is like undergraduate school in the fact that you go for a set period of time, take a set number of classes, and then graduate.

Fact: Graduate school is based on your research.  When you finish your research, along with some core requirements, you defend that research and graduate.  It can be difficult at times to estimate when that will be, though you should talk to your advisor early and often about expectations. 

Myth: You have to have predetermined your research project before applying to graduate school.

Fact: While you need to have some idea about general topics, you don’t have to have an entire proposal written up.  Your advisor will work with you to determine a mutually agreed on project.

Myth: If I get rejected from a graduate school, it means I am a bad applicant and a failure.

Fact: Acceptance rates are very low and depend on many factors.  If you are not accepted, it does not mean you are not qualified merely that there may not have been funding available or research space available at that school.  This is why it is important to contact potential advisors early so they can advocate early for you.

Myth: Graduate school is structured like undergraduate school.

Fact: Graduate school is a mix of many things.  You will be taking classes for the first couple years.  You will also be designing and implementing experiments and you may also be asked to teach.  At the same time you will be asked to focus on your specific research questions intensely and independently unlike undergrad where you are told specifically what to read.  You will be expected to understand the field.  And do the reading that is necessary for you to do that.  The positive of this is that you really do set your own schedule.  The negative is that you have to be really disciplined to stick to this schedule. 

Myth: My graduate advisor is interested in helping me become a better teacher.

Fact: Graduate students are researchers first and everything else second.  While some advisors will appreciate your interest in teaching most or more are interested in research and publications. 

Myth: Advisors don’t have time for their students.

Fact: This really does vary among advisors.  There may be a trade off between someone who is else unknown but has fewer graduate students to assist.  Compared to the more established professors whose name recognition is high but have so many students that they are too busy to spend time training one.  Ask graduate students of that advisor about what it is like to work with him or her. 

Myth: I’m not going into academia, so graduate school isn’t for me.

Fact: There are a number of jobs available to master level or beyond that aren’t available to people with their bachelors.  See local listings. 

Myth: I don’t know what to do next, so I’ll go to graduate school.

Fact: While this may be tempting, graduate school is not for everyone and requires serious commitment.  Having a vision of your goals and how graduate school can help those goals, will help you survive.  If you are unsure of your goals or your project, try out a masters program first.  You can always enter a doctorate program later. 

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …