The fairs bring together graduate schools that focus on positive societal change, and public service professionals– like you? –who want more education to further their careers.
If you are thinking about grad school, it’s one of the best ways we can think of to meet staff from some of the country’s top schools in degrees ranging from nonprofit & business management and social work, to public policy & administration, public interest law, public health, journalism, international affairs and more.
If you don’t live near one of the cities where the fairs will come this year, check out the Idealist.org Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center with lots of resources for going back to school. Read here for information specifically for service corps alumni.
Looking for experience before going to grad school?
Graduate admissions staff recognize service corps programs as a great way to get valuable, practical experience in the field to prepare for grad school.
If you are considering participating in a service program, know that several programs have benefits that await you after you are finished with your term.
Programs funded through AmeriCorps offer the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award; the amount varies depending on the term of service, but a full term typically means $4,725. (The amount hasn’t been increased in a over a decade, though RPCV Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) and others in Congress are working to rectify that with the AmeriCorps Act of 2008.) The ed award is held by the National Service Trust until you are ready to use it, and can go towards tuition at most schools, or for student loans. Dozens of grad schools match the ed award so that your award may be doubled if you enroll at those schools.
Teach For America, an AmeriCorps program, has also fostered partnerships with many top graduate schools around the country that benefit TFA Corps members through application deferments, scholarships and ed award matches, and application fee waivers.
As we have written about before on this blog, Peace Corps also has two programs, Masters International and Fellows USA. The latter is specifically for people who have returned from Peace Corps service already.
A pretty good comparison (including education benefits) of some of the more famous service corps programs can be found in Chapter Five (PDF) of the Idealist.org Guide to Nonprofit Careers. Also check out Equal Justice Works blog about public interest law. Other associations of social-impact grad schools can be found among Idealist’s grad fair cosponsors.
Do you know of other benefits for service corps alumni not mentioned here? We’d love to hear about them!
Also Idealist is still looking for grad school bloggers! Click here to see if blogging for us sounds compelling to you!
Also note that many grad schools offer benefits to service corps alumni that aren’t through official partnerships with the service programs. It’s always a good idea to ask at your target institution.