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More support for graduates

A new report from the Mills Office of Institutional Research and
Planning reveals that over 41 percent of Mills graduates who began
the job search prior to graduation received at least one job offer.
The survey conducted in spring 2003 also reports 80 percent wishing
to pursue graduate studies, had been accepted to graduate

Despite what appears to be a seeming success for the Office of
Institutional Research among Mills graduates, students maintain
that there seems to be a disconnect between institutional
preparation, support, and student expectations.

While the Career Center, the Alumnae House and the Office of
Graduate studies are some of the departments Mills offers to assist
students in pursuing their interests after graduation, students
feel resources can be vastly improved and expanded upon.

“Though the career center is a good resource, the programs
offered are not in depth and not specialized,” senior Corinne Sklar
said. Some Mills students are seeking to do non-traditional work
and need more specific rather than general information said

“I want to be able to talk to someone that has written and
received grants [for the arts], I need [something] that is not
general, I can get that on the Internet.”

While many students come to Mills to connect with its touted
Alumnae Association, they are disappointed to find that alumnae do
not have a larger presence on campus.

“I know that the pre-law club [Phi Alpha Delta] brings alums
that are working in the field on campus to speak. The alumnae
association should do this in all areas,” said Jane Cochran,

“I think that the career center and the alumnae house need to be
more integrated,” said Sklar. “If alums came on campus to speak
[about the fields they are in], it would be more conducive to real
life preparation, rather than a brief overview.”

Although the career center does not offer specific programs to
prepare students for graduate school testing, they have web-links
to information about preparation for graduate school entrance
exams, as well as notices for outside services that provide classes
to prepare for the exams, according to Shirley Weishaar, dean of
students. They are located in the career resource center.

“The career center has been asked to purchase the GRE software,
because the exam will only be offered online in the future,” said

In addition, students feel a lack of guidance concerning
graduate school. “Mills is relying on seniors to be pro-active to
make post-grad decisions,” said senior Kelly Sheahen.

“I think it’s a problem because we are focusing on graduating on
time, theses etc., and we don’t get close support or guidance for
grad school.”

Senior Miriam Warren echoed these feelings. She said that when
it comes to setting women up to succeed in applying and getting
into graduate school, something is sorely lacking at Mills. Her
fear is that it will impact first generation students most.

“The college often boasts of the number of women on campus who
are first generation college students – I am one of them,” said
Warren. “I had no idea of where to start or how to fund a graduate
education. I feel amazingly grateful to the professor who pulled me
aside after class one day and planted the idea in my head that I
should continue my education by pursuing my Ph.D.,” said Warren.
“Not only do we need more professors to encourage students, we need
the college to support women by exposing them to the post
graduation opportunities that exist.”

Other students point out the valuable resources that lie within
their professors and advisors, but say that students must be

“It depends on how well you mesh with your advisor and if you
are in the middle of the pack, or not assertive, you’re out of
luck,” said Cochran.

For Mills alumna Fanai Castro, her inspiration for wanting to do
activist work in her homeland of Guam, came through her professors,
specifically, professor Deborah Bermen-Santana. “Connections that I
made with professors and Mills students of color are what prepared
me,” said Castro.

Still other students sight the lack of support from faculty and
the college.

“I am interested in making movies and working in fashion,” said
a student who wished to remain anonymous. “A professor once said to
me that I could better serve the world by doing something more

She also feels that there is a lack of resources available at
the career center for her particular career interests and that
overall the college does not support students who are interested in
the creative industries, such as film and television media as well
as theater, both of which had B.A. programs until recently. Some
students say that while Mills can do more, students must take
responsibility for their own futures. “People can’t be handheld,”
said Liz Chinlund, senior.

“Students need to be proactive about their futures and plans,”
said Sklar “The career center is underutilized. Mills would know
more about what students wanted and needed if they came to the
career center and utilized them.”

According to Weishaar, students should be thinking about
planning for their life after Mills early on. “Students need to
visit the career center right away and find out what they can be
taking advantage of now and after they graduate from Mills.”