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Math Major Aiming for a Masters in Student Affairs Needs Advice

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Upon reading these forums, I was very happy to find out that undergraduate major doesn't matter. I'm currently a rising senior, and I would like to start a Masters in Student Affairs Program as soon as I graduate. Since I'm going to be working on my applications this summer, I'd like to ask for everyone's help in clearing up a few areas of concern.


First of all, how do I explain my math major? Honestly, I chose math as a major because (1) I like it and (2) I was hoping it would get me a financially secure job if the education grad school and career track did not work out.


And secondly, how do I get my masters program funded? Or what can I do now and during the program to minimize and perferrably eliminate the cost?


Here's a little about me:



Major: Mathematics

Education Couses: I take upper division education courses every quarter, but no minor.

GPA: 4.0 (state school), 3.97 (community college)

GRE: I haven't taken yet, but I took a past test for practice and got low 160s Verbal Reasoning and high 160s Quant. I will be studying all summer, so hopefully I will have good scores.



Current job: Peer adviser specializing in low-income, minority students. Work part time. Have great evals and quite a few accomplishments.

Previous and current summer job: front-line advising at a community college



Counselor, Team Leader, and Trainer for non-profit specializing in at-risk youth.


Personal Background:

Returning student who had to stop college several times for financial and personal reasons.



1 strong recommendation from a math/stats professor where I was top student.

Don't know about the other two.


Career Goals:

Get my masters in student affairs, then get a job at the same school. If I find something very interesting and financially secure and satisfying, I might stay there for my entire career. If I decide to move on, ideally I'd want to end up a fully tenured STEM counselor at a community college (which would require an additional credential). This would be my settle down job that would give me the work-life balance to raise a family and enjoy life. But fully tenured positions at community college are very very competitive, so I would like to have backup options (thus the math major and the job at the school where I got my masters)


Any advice would be greatly appreciated, especially in writing my personal statement and applying for fellowships/scholarships.

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I don't think you really need to worry about "explaining" your math major. Everything I've seen and been told about this field says that experience is a lot more important than academics. People go into student affairs from all kinds of academic backgrounds. I know student affairs professionals whose degrees are in business, geography, journalism, rhetoric, French, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, psychology -- all kinds of things, and plenty who never took any education coursework at all. If anything your math degree might make you stand out and provide some welcome diversity in a pool that may skew toward social sciences and humanities.

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Also for recs you should get at least one professional (not just academic reference). Since it sounds like you're doing so well at your current job, is there any particular reason you wouldn't want to ask your boss for a letter?

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Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement.


Izs: my boss is taking a different job next year, and since we don't really have a close personal relationship, I'm not sure I want to ask her. I want a letter from a really awesome Professor in the Education Department. I know him personally, but I've never taken a class with him. I do have the chance to take a class with him next quarter. Unfortuately, to do so, I would have to drop one of my major courses. I'm currently debating that one back and forth.


MAC2809: I definitely want to stay in California for grad school. Thanks for the suggestions.

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