On Jason Beal's white board are reminders: Get recommendations from professors and Meeting with Career Services,Friday. "I'm a list individual," he said. "I've got ten different lists, which is clearly inefficient. I've got lists on my board, lists in a notebook, lists in a Trapper Keeper."
Inefficient as he claims his system is, it seems to be working. Beal, a government and philosophy double major from Thomaston, Maine, is juggling applications to five master's programs and one Ph.D. program. He hopes to work in humanitarian aid or on justice issues. Aside from his grad school aspirations, he's president of the Philosophy Club and Amnesty International and plays pick-up soccer.
Applying to competitive grad schools with fingers and toes crossed is nerve-rattling enough, but Beal's options and choices affect his long-time girlfriend, Jenny Kalman '04. With their differing interests in science and humanities, reconciling life after Colby is a concern for both of them.
In comparing the pros and cons of a Ph.D. versus a master's program, Beal said, "A Ph.D. is very time consuming and a little too strictly academic for what I want to do. It might be better if I actually get involved in organizations and try to do some work alongside them."
It also makes a difference in working towards compromise with Kalman. "She needs to be flexible in understanding that when I go to a place [for a master's program], I won't be spending six years [earning the degree]. So the place we choose has to be large enough so that when I finish my program, I can go out and find work in my field."
With deadlines approaching in December, January and February, Beal's white board is getting full. "Career Services knows me very well," he said. "I have weekly meetings and I go in there and complain about things that are bothering me. Not things they're doing wrong, just misconceptions I have and feeling like I don't know what I'm doing." Counselors there helped him sort through the stacks of materials: letters of recommendation from professors, a carefully tailored personal statement, biographical information, transcripts and test scores.
Beal has an internship lined up for Jan Plan at the Maine State Commission on Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform. "I'll be putting together documents for candidates to understand campaign finance laws, what they can and cannot do in accepting gifts to their campaigns. It should be fun stuff."