During our four years of working with alumni of care, we discovered some of the obstacles they face when pursuing advanced degrees and concurrently provided support to enable their success.* Much of the information on the Getting Prepared website is general and can be helpful to any prospective student seeking advice about graduate school. However, there are sections that are particularly tailored to students from a background in foster care. The Immerse Yourself tab in the Discovery section provides suggestions for students looking for pre-professional experience who don’t have a network of adults who have contacts or can provide informal advice and internships. The Application section has many tips and examples about how to contextualize your foster care experience on essays that ask for personal information.
Start with the Discovery section if you are interested in going to graduate school but aren’t exactly sure of your direction, what discipline or disciplines you want to study and what kind of program (PhD, Masters, professional degree) you want to pursue.
If you know what kind of degree or program you want to apply to and want to find out about pre-requisites, tests you will need to take and some of the application essentials, start with the Timeline section so you can put everything in order.
Every advanced degree application is slightly different but there are always required essays and often a resume or cv is requested. Start with the Application section if you are ready to start writing about your interests, accomplishments and goals.
If you will be applying for a medical or dental degree, a law degree, a Masters in Public Health or training as a Physician’s Assistant, you will apply through a singular ‘portal’ where your application materials are often summarized and then sent to your top choice programs/schools. The Professional Schools section directs you to information and application portals for these degrees. Helpful hints for interviewing and various list of typical questions for some degree programs can be found in a pull-down menu.
The Teaching Cases section contains narratives of twelve successful former foster youth who have been admitted to a diverse range of advanced degrees. There are also facilitator guides available for instructors who may want to use the cases in the classroom.
Once you’ve been accepted check out the Admission section for tips on negotiating multiple offers and other advice.
*The Guardian Professions Program received funding from the Stuart Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation and the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. Sylvia Sensiper, PhD directed the program for the four years of the pilot project.