This entry will be a bit more biographical than is typically the case on the GradTrek blog. As I’ve written in previous posts, the GradTrek team came together because we looked at the websites available for students researching graduate schools and saw both a pressing social need and a business opportunity. But for me GradTrek is also much more personal. As a directionless 20-year-old undergraduate at the University of Virginia I was lucky enough to be mentored by Jon Haidt, who would go on to great things as a social psychologist and book author (and most entertainingly, as a Colbert Report guest). But at that time, before his rise to Comedy Central and TED Talk glory (sorry Jon!), to me he was simply a wonderful advisor and mentor whom I could trust absolutely. He taught me not only how to do social research but how to be a researcher. And equally importantly, he taught me how higher education really works and what I needed to know to navigate graduate school and have an academic career. Then in graduate school at Stanford I had another wonderful mentor and advisor, John W. Meyer, who was every bit as generous and candid as Jon Haidt. I trusted everything ever told to me by both Jon and John, and since becoming a professor myself have done my best to be as supportive and honest with my students as my advisors were with me.
I’ve come to realize just how fortunate I was to have had as many hours of face time as I did with my college and graduate school advisors. Most faculty aren’t as generous as they were, are pressed for time, and are overwhelmed with students. And many undergrads (and even grad students) float through their majors and programs without ever making strong connections with faculty. Then when the time comes to think about graduate school, they have nowhere to turn, and end up making very poorly informed decisions. I’ve seen this occur more times than I’d care to remember. And that’s why I’ve committed so much of my time, sweat, and, frankly, money to GradTrek. In an ideal world everyone would have mentors like Jon and John, but until that time comes, at least students will have one source of information about graduate school that is comprehensive, objective, and worthy of their trust.
Co-founder and CEO, GradTrek