Online Course Prepares Students for Graduate School Admissions Process

Grad School 101, a recently launched Purdue online course, offers advice on how to navigate the often-overwhelming world of graduate school admissions.

The free course breaks the process down into modules ranging from the introductory “Is Graduate School for Me?” (available now) to specifics on applications and graduate school funding (coming soon). Though offered through Purdue Engineering, the material is suitable for students in all disciplines.

The course was created by Janet Beagle, senior director of Graduate Programs for Purdue Engineering and former director of Graduate Admissions for the Purdue University Graduate School. She says the material reflects recurring questions she received from students, academic advisors and career counselors during her more than 14 years in national and international graduate recruitment and admissions. Beagle has a doctorate in education from Purdue.

Janet Beagle, senior director of Graduate Programs for Purdue Engineering

The first module explores what graduate school is like, explains the types of degrees students can earn, introduces graduate school funding, and answers some of the most common questions about whether graduate school should be in a student’s plans.

Future modules will address preparing for graduate school, exploring the application process, learning how to make an application stand out, and funding for graduate school. In addition to general information, each module contains videos, quizzes and tip sheets.

Beagle created the course while participating in the 2016-18 Purdue Engineering Staff Leadership Academy (PESLA). The academy was launched in 2016 by former Engineering Dean Leah H. Jamieson as a two-year program in which select staff engage in real-world case studies, small group discussions and interactive presentations with the goal of encouraging them to lead in ways that support larger institutional objectives. Beagle was in the first cohort and now serves on the leadership board for the second cohort.

Grad 101 is largely a product of one woman’s passion for all things graduate admissions. Beagle developed the online material from presentations she had given as a graduate school recruiter. She used Purdue Video Express rooms to record the online modules, taught herself to use video editing software, and spent countless hours beyond her full-time job perfecting the course. Beagle then worked with Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP) and Purdue Online Learning to launch the course through Blackboard. She plans to incorporate guest speakers, student panels and other outside voices in future modules.

“This course has been a dream of mine for several years,” Beagle says. “The most rewarding moments of my career have been when students contact me to say they saw one of my presentations and it changed their next steps and sometimes literally their life path. I’m hopeful this course will allow me to touch even more students.”

While undergraduates are a sure target audience, Beagle points out that Grad 101 can also be used by working professionals considering a return to school and by academic advisors, career counselors, and undergraduate seminar courses. It is equipped with digital badges that can be used by professors who want to incorporate the material into their curriculum.

Beagle says one of the constant statements she heard when speaking with academic advisors and career counselors was this: “We are really good at preparing students for the workforce, but don’t know how to prepare them for graduate school.” They can now turn to Grad 101 for help.