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Why You Should Consider Small Universities For Your Graduate Degree

March 2018

As a high school guidance counselor, students are always asking me where I went to college. Similar to many working adults, my path was not traditional, I had no choice but to work full time and attend college. I moved from a local county college to a four-year school and finally found my home at Centenary to finish my master’s degree.

So, when my students at school ask me “why did I go back,” I reply that graduate school is much more than furthering your education. It provides professional opportunities and helps you build lifelong connections.

As a Centenary alum, my graduate program did just that, as it ultimately paved my career path towards becoming a school counselor. As cliché as that sounds, it was true.

Individualized Attention

The small class sizes of a small university and flexibility of entering a program designed for working adults makes it easier for graduate students to achieve their goal of furthering their education while balancing the demands of a busy lifestyle. Attending a smaller school like Centenary enabled me to get the one-on-one attention I was looking for. The professors knew me on a first name basis, including the director of my program and whenever I needed assistance they were always there for guidance.

By the end of the program, the staff had become my mentors and role models instead of simply strangers that deliver a lecture. I was able to bounce my ideas, dreams, and plans for the future off of them knowing I would receive an honest answer. The support was uplifting; you always knew where to find them and as long as you had come prepared they were always willing to help out.

Lifelong Connections

My classmates became like family and I built connections that will last a lifetime. We worked through term papers and projects together and celebrated our victories. The program forced us to work with everyone, not just stick to our comfortable “cliques.” At times this was uncomfortable, but the practice in building relationships with people who were different than me was something I got from my experience that cannot be taught in a book.

Challenges have a funny way of bringing people together. Make no mistake, with the help of my advisor, professors and fellow students, we got through it together; whether it was finding a placement for practicums, or if it was simply being there for your peers to practice their counseling skills. The relationships I created have continued to flourish both professionally and personally. Either way those connections are priceless as a graduate student and a counselor.

The more people you know, the more services you can provide for your students and many of my classmates have or will be moving on to be counselors in higher education, private practice, or other schools across the state.

Wide Variety of Professional Opportunities
Lastly, my internship experience was also vital to my career. Before Centenary, I had worked in a residential facility for students with psychiatric, emotional, and conduct disorders. Even with ten years of experience I was having difficulty breaking the glass ceiling. At Centenary I was able to utilize the skills I had built over the years with the knowledge I had learned in the classroom as an intern in both Mt. Olive High School and Franklin High School.

During my internship with Franklin I was offered a temporary School Counselor Position that has transitioned into my appointment as the newest member of Franklin High School’s Counseling team.

I owe a lot of that to my own hard work, but a good portion is in thanks to my professors, my classmates, my internship experience and most importantly the university I attended. No matter how much experience I had in the world of counseling I could not be where I am today if it was not for the exceptional experience that I had in college.

Centenary University’s graduate programs are designed for busy, working professionals who want individualized attention and lifelong learning opportunities. Head over to the graduate programs page to learn more!

— Chance Summerer
    Centenary Alum