Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2017 - 41
the growing popularity of the institution's co-term program. First, increasing numbers of students are
enrolling as freshmen with advanced placement credits, an advantage that allows them to accelerate
their bachelor's coursework, incorporate graduate courses into their undergraduate schedule, and
complete an M.S. much more quickly.
There are also the additional two semesters of Rensselaer funding and the comfort of earning their
master's degrees in familiar surroundings.
"Because they know the campus and the faculty, they can focus on the higher level of coursework.
Typically, if students go to a new school for a graduate degree, a certain amount of time is spent
adjusting to the campus. This makes their first semester or first year difficult. Rensselaer students who
enroll in co-term can focus on their coursework and research projects, since they know the campus
already," says Dunn.
In addition to the minimum co-terminal program requirements, each department has its own set of
minimum requirements. Some departments, for example, require GPAs higher than 3.0, resumes, and/
or department-specific recommendation letters. Some impose earlier deadlines because their committees
need time to review the applications. Co-term students, regardless of department, may be eligible to
extend their Rensselaer funding for up to two semesters and apply for graduate federal financial aid.
"I think the co-term program grows as more students and faculty become aware of the program and
its benefits," Dunn says. "The Office of Graduate Education has been focused on providing information
sessions, and we are reaching new students all the time. I also believe that as more students enroll at
Rensselaer with advanced placement credits, they see they are able to complete an M.S. without much
Students who make early decisions about the program are better positioned to plan their coursework
and begin their graduate studies as early as possible.
"If students are comparing institutions as undergrads, even if they don't have immediate plans for
a graduate degree, both they and their parents appreciate knowing they can stay on here as a graduate
student. Departments are doing a really good job of appealing to students early in their education, so
that students can plan accordingly," Grega says.
A PATH WITH AN IMPRESSIVE FUTURE
"I'm always looking
at the best way to
get the best return
on my investment.
If you want to
set yourself apart
from the other
is definitely the
way to go."
ELLIOTT SMITH '15
This is the path Elizabeth Selkis '17 traveled as part of her Rensselaer experience. After graduating
in May with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, Selkis planned to find a job in her field,
with the possibility of securing a job at the Naval Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). Selkis had interned for
consecutive summer semesters at NNL in nearby Niskayuna in Schenectady County, most recently
as a member of one of the company's thermal design groups.
While scouting some on-campus research opportunities in her junior year, Selkis had a change of
heart when one of her instructors, Diana-Andra Borca-Tasciuc-associate professor of mechanical,
aerospace, and nuclear engineering-suggested the co-terminal program.
"It wasn't part of my plan to stay on at Rensselaer for my master's. But her encouragement and
motivation really made me think. Ultimately, it was a good idea to continue on for my master's rather
than try to do my graduate work part-time while working full-time," Selkis says.
Selkis plans to earn her master's in mechanical engineering in December 2017, just nine semesters
after enrolling as a freshman. With a background rooted in heat transfer and thermal hydraulics, she
plans to pursue a career as a thermal engineer that will also incorporate her design capabilities.
Describing the shift from undergrad to grad student as "seamless," Selkis says she appreciated the
familiarity and continuity that came from having some of the same professors for her graduate classes.
"It was an easy transition. Another nice bonus was not having to take the Graduate Record Exam
(GRE)," Selkis says of the standardized, labor-intensive test that graduate schools typically require for
admission. Most of Rensselaer's departments don't require GREs as part of their co-terminal applications
because they can assess the applicants based on their undergraduate work, even when the student is
doing his or her graduate work in another department.
Smith, the IT analyst at Johnson & Johnson, says his investment in co-term translated to money
and time well spent.
"I'm always looking at the best way to get the best return on my investment," says Smith. "If you
want to set yourself apart from the other students, especially if you're going for something with a balance
of tech and business-and you also want to save yourself time and a significant amount of capital-
co-term is definitely the way to go."
RensselaeR/ Fall 2017 41