Penn State MarkPassmore photo
DLP Signature

david l. passmore

Advice About Preparing for Graduate Study

You better think (think) think
about what you're trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go,
let yourself be free

      – from Th ink, sung by Aretha Franklin,
         American singer, songwriter, & pianist

Post–baccalaureate study is different from scholastic and baccalaureate study. Successful graduate studies, especially studies for the doctoral degree, rely heavily on the following student attributes:

⁌ Smooth adaptation to graduate school culture
⁌ Inclination to self–direct learning
⁌ Capitalization of basic skills in writing, mathematics, and time management that have been accumulated life–long
⁌ Possession of a consistent and considered personal epistemological guide
⁌ Use of personal and networked technologies to collaborate with colleagues, extend the reach of learning and applications, and enhance the efficiency of work processes

Yet, many students enter graduate study as aliens within graduate school culture, primarily are motivated externally to learn rather than intrinsically, exhibit poorly developed basic skills, reflect rarely about the theory of knowledge to which they subscribe, and operate without the full benefits of modern assistive and networked technology.

Students preparing to enter graduate study in Penn State’s Workforce Education and Development program – especially if you plan to have me act as your academic advisor, doctoral committee chair, or instructor – are advised to consider information I have assembled about preparations for graduate study. You will not be given an examination to assess how well you have made the preparations I suggest. There is no specific instruction in courses offered through the Workforce Education and Development program to help you acquire the knowledge, competence, and skill implied by the preparations I outline. Rather, I expect that you already have made these preparations prior to your entry into a graduate degree program in Workforce Education and Development.

Graduate school does not make a good match to everyone’s tastes, abilities, or resources. Not everyone has the motivation, skill, and financial means to complete a graduate degree program successfully. Before you enter graduate study, I encourage you to decide whether the tassel you want to wear is worth the hassle you will bear.