Graduate Admissions Blog

Supportive Graduate School Experience

Peggy McNamara, Bank Street Graduate School of Education
Peggy McNamara

At Bank Street Graduate School of Education, we understand that the decision to pursue your educational career is a monumental one. You are committing many of your resources—time, money, and, most importantly, your emotional energy. Graduate school may be your dream, a chance to challenge yourself, or a choice to make a change in your life. As you approach the decision-making process, consider the assets you bring to this endeavor—your background knowledge, life experience, work habits, and stamina. Think about what challenges you may encounter—balancing personal and professional responsibilities, a learning dis/ability, and your emotional and/or physical health.

Here, we invite you to bring all of yourself to your graduate studies and ask you to start by truly understanding what will empower you to learn best. Many individuals learn in authentic ways when they are actively engaged with materials, ideas, and people. Your instructors will meet you “where you are as a learner.” They will collaborate with you to achieve your learning goals. Building these important relationships will be one of your greatest resources. Other Bank Street graduate students will be eager to know you and work collaboratively with you, and you may connect with lifelong colleagues and friends who will support you throughout your career. Bank Street administrators, faculty, staff, graduate students, and alumni all believe that meaningful relationships are what enable us to learn and thrive—together. 

For some of you, there may be times when you need additional support, especially if you are motivated to be an educator because you have encountered learning challenges in the past and you hope to support learners with special needs on their educational journeys. At Bank Street, a disability is viewed as a feature of a person’s diversity and it is not perceived negatively, but rather, it is recognized as a characteristic of the diversity of our college community and the heart of our society. You are encouraged to self-identify your disability and learning needs so that you may receive the assistance and reasonable accommodations that will make learning more accessible.

As the Senior Director of Student Learning Support and Community Initiative, I meet with students who request assistance with managing the complexity of their lives. Together, we examine your learning strengths and challenges and make a plan that helps you to find a balance in your lives that prioritizes your graduate studies. 

During your graduate education, you are expected to read and write in ways that enable you to think deeply about your studies. You will be challenged to read complex ideas and connect theory to the practices you are using in your work. Writing is one of the critical means through which you will demonstrate your knowledge of processes and the content you learn  in your courses and fieldwork. As you refine your writing abilities, you will develop the professional writing skills that you will use throughout your career as a teacher, leader, museum educator, child life specialist, or other educational professional.

This type of academic writing may be very new for you, and it may be challenging. Some of our Bank Street alumni know about these challenges, and they have joined together to volunteer writing support through individual tutoring. We will consult and determine together if you would benefit from one-on-one tutoring with an alumni mentor.

We encourage you to self-reflect and let us know what you need to succeed as a graduate student. Self-advocacy is an essential part of making your graduate experience a productive one. The process requires that you know yourself—your needs, strengths, and challenges. Once you identify these areas, it is crucial to ask for the support you need. We will help you to find the resources you need to be a successful learner.  Knowing your own strengths and working through your challenges will inform your work with students, faculty, colleagues, and staff in your professional community.

Learn more about what the Graduate School has to offer