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Graduate school student provides advice for postgraduate career

For 23-year-old Natalie Alvarez, the opportunity to enroll in grad school was can’t miss.

“I love school,” Alvarez said. “I know a lot of people can’t say that. But I honestly love going to school. I studied and got a psychology degree, but I just wanted to go into something else that was more hands-on, more diverse.”

Alvarez graduated from California Lutheran University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Then, she enrolled at California State University Long Beach where she joined the Master of Social Work (MSW) program.

Although Alvarez is fairly new to her post-graduate studies, she said that she feels like she has a better grasp of what to expect during her time at CSULB.

Alvarez encourages students looking to apply for graduate school to stay on top of deadlines, especially for applications.

Within the CSU system, each school requires transcripts at varying times. CSULB requires a few letters of recommendation, with one coming from a previous internship or previous job. The other recommendations can come from a college faculty member.

Prospective graduate students looking to get into Long Beach State are also given a set of questions to answer for review.

“They would ask questions like, ‘When were you faced with an ethical difficulty in a work setting and how did you resolve that issue?’ or ‘What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?’” Alvarez said.

On top of earning a master’s degree, Alvarez also said that going to graduate school opens the door for more opportunities because it provides students a chance to further their education with new, relevant material, while becoming a bigger expert in their field of study.

Alvarez posing in front of a CSULB sign. Cal State Long Beach has one of the best social work programs in the entire state.
Natalie Alvarez posing in front of a CSULB sign. Cal State Long Beach has one of the best social work programs in the entire state. // Courtesy of Natalie Alvarez

“Be ready to learn and try to not be stressed or feel discouraged,” Alvarez said. “It gets hard sometimes, but for the people that do struggle and feel like they’re falling behind, they think it’s just them, but everyone is kind of lost.”

One struggle Alvarez has experienced during her time in graduate school is balancing school with personal life and work.

“Time management is a big one,” Alvarez said. “Self-care is very important. I find that meditating or just pulling back sometimes — I love watching new shows, that’s something I do to de-stress, or I paint. It’s always good to have a few options.”

Although graduate school may seem intimidating, Alvarez believes that no one is alone on this journey at CSULB as there are many resources and support systems.

“If you’re writing a paper, they have the resources for other people to peer review your paper and help you out,” Alvarez said. “Even though it’s a lot on your load, there’s always other people there to help you.”

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