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Larry Traylor
Larry Traylor planned to attend graduate school after earning his bachelor’s at Rutgers-New Brunswick, but felt uncertain about the admissions process.
Rutgers NAACP

Larry Traylor arrived at Rutgers-New Brunswick in the fall of 2016 as an aspiring policy analyst eager to dive into his double major in political science and Africana studies – with even bigger goals in mind.  

“As a first-generation student, I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted ‘Ph.D.’ behind my name, I wanted ‘Esq.’ behind my name,” Traylor said. “But oftentimes you don't know how to go about getting it.”

Though Traylor planned to attend graduate school after earning his bachelor’s, he felt uncertain about the admissions process and which of the many advanced degree and funding options to pursue. So, he decided to take a year off after graduating in May 2020 instead.  

Traylor isn’t alone. According to recent studies, obstacles to a Ph.D. can be particularly acute for students who come from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

This summer, the Rutgers-New Brunswick Division of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement will hold the Bridge to the Doctorate Graduate EOF Summer Institute, a four-day program to help undergraduate students like Traylor navigate the admissions process and explore pathways to a doctoral degree. Rutgers juniors and seniors enrolled in any Rutgers EOF program across the university are eligible to apply to the institute.

“We don’t want graduate school to be something that students stumble upon and through,” Joan Collier, director of Diversity Education and Outreach at Rutgers-New Brunswick said. “If we can show them some paths forward, what to anticipate, share success strategies to cultivate community while helping them to articulate why they want to attend graduate school and their end goals, that sets them up to get to the doctorate.”

The summer institute aims to help students envision themselves in graduate school and build the academic and interpersonal skills necessary to complete it, all while helping students cope with “imposter syndrome,” or the perception that they don’t belong in academic spaces.

“Oftentimes, you feel like you’re fighting to be there, in a way that you ask yourself, do you all really want me here?” Traylor said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer institute will be held virtually from August 17-20. Workshops will address concerns regarding graduate school admission, personal and professional development while in graduate school, and career paths. Students will also receive one-on-one graduate school coaching and a stipend to cover the costs of educational materials. 

Applications for the Bridge to the Doctorate Graduate EOF Summer Institute are due July 24 at 5 p.m. EST here. For more information on eligibility, please visit the website. Students can join the program’s listserv and follow it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.