Graduate Programs

Blogs from students, faculty & staff

Who doesn’t like surprises? by Melissa Vong, Early Childhood Education student

So I know I wrote one of these before, but now I want to dig a little deeper into why my experience as a graduate student at U of M-Flint is so great. Let me tell you about three things that have really surprised me during my time as a graduate student at U of M-Flint.

The first thing was how nice the campus is. It really is a lovely campus, in the heart of downtown. The buildings are close together with plenty of nearby parking available. It is very well kept. I often see campus security out and about and custodial staff maintaining the beauty of the buildings. There are plenty of places to relax before classes, with areas ranging from spots where you can get a snack or a meal to areas where you can sit and enjoy what may be the first bit of peace and quiet you’ve had all day.

The second surprise I discovered was how supportive an atmosphere there was at the school.  Much smaller class sizes means you get to know people and as most everyone is going through the same thing as you are with trying to manage graduate school while working full-time, it is nice to have that support and understanding from classmates. Another component of the supportive atmosphere is the instructors at U of M – Flint; they are truly a cut above the rest. They are knowledgeable, passionate, helpful people who really care about their students succeeding. “Don’t suffer in silence,” is something I heard them say often. I am a student who has lots of questions and often asks for clarification on assignments (thanks to my severe test anxiety). Every time I asked for help, every teacher has welcomed me in with a smile and given me the help I needed, putting my mind at rest. They encouraged me to dig deeper, to investigate my questions with research, and to exchange my ideas with others in an effort to learn from different perspectives. U of M – Flint is a great school with great staff.

Are you still not sure though? Do you want to sign-up, but you’re afraid of getting into debt?  For some of you, the worry may be that you will create an even bigger debt as you are already trying to pay off student loans from your years as an undergraduate. Well, don’t say no yet, I have one more surprise to tell you about. I promise, this one is a chance to help you turn your dreams of a graduate degree into reality.

The third, the last, but certainly not the least of the surprises I was given while attending graduate school at U of M-Flint, was money. Now don’t go quitting your day job, there is no such thing as a professional student (if there was, I would have signed up already).  I did say money, but no, they are not going to pay you to go to graduate school.  However, what they do give is grants and scholarships, you know the good kind of money they give to help pay for college that you don’t have to pay back. These are also easy to apply for. You don’t have to spend countless hours scouring the Internet giving your private information out to potentially sketchy websites. At U of M-Flint it is all done securely on your “My UM-Flint” page. This is your main page where you access everything from blackboard to email to SIS, Student Information System, which is where you access the financial aid section and where you apply for scholarships and grants. I applied for everything I could, and the financial aid office was very helpful, as were teachers with letters of recommendation. Some of the money I was awarded was because I maintain a high GPA, and while most scholarships and grants do have certain GPA requirements, trust me; it’s well worth the effort. When I applied for graduate school I expected to pay for ALL of it myself. However, when I graduate next spring approximately 85% of my school will have been funded by grants and scholarships. (Pausing for you to let that one sink in for a second…85%).  Now I am not setting in stone how much you will be guaranteed to receive, but I am telling you I did not even know grants and scholarships existed for graduate students.  Well, they do! Did I just rekindle that flame of “I think I can” inside of you?  U of M-Flint is a place I enjoy going (and I am a student who is not social, so thrives with online classes), but this school, with its great teachers, clean, comfortable campus, and options that help relieve the stress of taking on big school loans has been a choice that I made with no regrets at all.

So what surprises await you in graduate school? You will never know if you don’t go.