teaching cases

Each narrative below starts with a student, the ‘protagonist,’ facing a question or poised at a crossroads and considering their options. Yet unlike a short story or newspaper article, there is no conclusion. Instead these cases are offered as windows into academic culture and the different kinds of choices students have to make as they work towards a graduate or professional degree. This allows the reader to consider the choices, weigh the options and decide what they might do.

Mac Strelioff: GRE StrategiesMac Strelioff wonders whether he should re-take the GRE. Is his score competitive enough to gain admission to his number #1 PhD in psychology program? This case details how Mac created his academic track record by developing relationships with mentors, researching potential career directions, and taking on research projects outside of his regular classroom work.

Hen Werner: Taking Educational Risks for the Future. Hen Werner has completed the Teacher credential program at UC Davis and wants to move on to the Master’s degree like her cohort peers. The classes are held only on Saturday twice a month, but Hen has two small children. She is concerned about spending more time away from them and also about the program’s cost. This case addresses the requirements of a teacher credential program and the values and risks of a graduate education.

Cristal Harris: Self-representation and Getting the Most from Student Support Programs. Cristal must deal with issues of self-representation and self-reliance as she considers her future aspirations for law school: how does she represent her goal of attending the CLEO Summer Institute and raise enough funding to pay the full tuition? The reader of this case will come to understand that one of the best ways to learn the implicit rules or ‘tacit knowledge’ of academia is to engage with student support programs.

Eric Lehman: The Advanced Degree Trajectory. Eric considers his application for a Master’s degree and wonders whether the MA might help him when he applies for the PhD program. This case also addresses financial strategies for community college students wishing to transfer to a four-year institution.

Eden Haven-Martinez: Focused and Determined to Find the Right DirectionEden and her husband have moved a number of times to pursue their educational dreams. Now they may be faced with another move to the Sacramento area if Eden is accepted to the Teacher Credential/MA program at UC Davis. How does she make this important decision? 

Cindy Preto: Following your Interests and PassionsCindy returns to complete her undergraduate degree after a long break of over ten years. Passionate about vineyards and the production of wine, she finds a home in the Department of Viticulture and Enology. Ultimately she combines this passion with an interest in insects and entomology as she applies for a PhD.

Rachelle Donaldson: the Importance of a Campus VisitRachelle sets up a campus visit to explore the Master of Science in Community Development degree at UC Davis. An in-person campus visit is a way to informally introduce oneself to faculty and also discover if a program will be a good education and professional match. It is another way to enhance your chance of admission, particularly if you have an erratic or unusual trajectory of academic achievement. 

Veronica Alvarez: Creating a Holistic Application. Veronica Alvarez is an excellent applicant for an advanced degree although she has concerns about her undergraduate GPA and GRE scores. To increase her chances of acceptance, Veronica applies to six programs and visits those programs that are close to her home. She carefully crafts her essays to provide a narrative context for her quantitative scores and showcases her work experience, international travel and commitment to educational policy.

Ashley De Medio-Meroth: Moving for the Right OpportunityAshley started her undergraduate career as a biology major but soon switched to English literature, deciding that teaching high school English would be a good career fit. She talks to education professors and teachers and is certain she will be admitted to the UC Riverside program. Then she finds out that UC Davis has an interesting program that offers student teaching in the first quarter and also a tuition scholarship. Does the move to Northern California make financial sense?

Holly Pierce: The Importance of an Information SessionHolly is interested in using her keenly honed people skills and research capabilities in the social work profession. This case details how Holly, a re-entry student and single mother completes her undergraduate degree. The case can be helpful for thinking through time management issues, financing a college degree and turning volunteer and pro bono experience into a career.

Rich Pauloo: Engaging with Future MentorsRich has worked for a number of years and now wants to return for a PhD in order to advance in his career. He has substantial research experience and excellent skills related to organization, teaching and public speaking. Wanting to ensure his admission to his first-choice program, Rich researches the work of potential faculty mentors, demonstrating his own capabilities as a junior colleague and his interest in their research projects.

Cliff Ching: Additional Preparation with a Postbaccalaureate Medical ProgramCliff gathered substantial pre-professional experience through the UCLA Mobile Clinic and wants to showcase his important human relationship skills that demonstrate an aptitude that goes beyond grades and MCAT scores. The case provides basic information about the medical school application process and postbaccalaureate programs, as well as other information pertinent to students who are interested in a medical career.


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