I will be talking about this two amazing conferences and societies that will not only help you apply to graduate school but also will help you develop all the necessary skills to succeed in graduate school and in your work. This two societies are for people in or applying to STEM. If you are applying to other fields, I will suggest that you contact the email that is often in the application page of your desire program and ask them if they have any help for minorities or disadvantage background students such as fee waivers. I believe you can do the same if you are an international applicant but more often there are not that much help from the university in term of paying your application.
Although I never attended ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students) national conference. I had heard so many good things about it. This is a biomedical based conference. If you are in that field you will have the opportunity to attend to presentations about your desired topic and check on what other students are doing by watching their poster presentation. You will also had sessions that will help you make a decision on whether graduate school is right for you like “Graduate Student Life: Perspectives of Graduate Students”. There are also session to help you developed a good oral and poster presentation, networking with leaders in your field, mentoring sessions, how to apply for scholarships, how to apply to MD-PhD or postbac, how to make the most of your summer internship, how to write a good resume and CV, time management sessions and standardized testing. There are representative of usually over 200 schools that you can ask about the program that you are interest and often can provide you fee waivers. This conference is more directed towards undergraduate students and although it is a conference design to increase minority in sciences, all students can attend.
SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) national conference is a full STEM conference and it is design for all levels undergraduate, graduate students, postdocs and professional. Also, there are days specifically for high school students that will like to attend the conference. As I mention in the previous one, SACNAS is design to increase minority in STEM fields, everyone is encouraged to attend whether they are minority or not and you can also apply for travel awards for this conference and also for ABRCMS. There are over 300 exhibit including schools, professional organization, funding opportunities and job opportunities. If you are in any field within STEM, you will have the opportunity to attend to oral and poster presentations about your topic of interest. You could also go to session such as leadership development, professional development, peer-to-peer mentoring, Native American and LGBTQA receptions, conversation with scientist by field, Pow Wow, movie night and dance party. You will have session similar to ABRCMS in applying to funding but through all the levels in your career. Also, they will have some that are designed for those that want to apply to graduate school with sessions about GRE, others about interview and graduate application where you get divided in groups with the admission dean of any particular university, like Harvard or Virginia Tech for instance and they will give you tips and a little insight of applying to their school but you are match randomly so you will not know who you will end having.
Benefit of attending to these conferences
Most important: Applying for graduate school is expensive and you want and need to apply to 5-10 schools which often translate to around thousand or even more if you pay for GRE or other standardized testing prep course. I think it is better to pay for this conference registration and win the travel award were you will be basically saving enough money to feel like you never make the trip for the conference in the first place. This is because the award include travel and hotel cost and your registration includes the meals, which is the one that you have to pay. You will be looking to 300-500$ expend that will help you apply and build a network for life. Also, if you are presenting you can apply within your school for a small scholarship to cover your registration, then you are basically or going free (both minority and non-minority can do this and both groups are eligible for the travel award). It will make you save money because you can ask for fee waivers in the exhibit hall which mean you don’t have to pay for your applications saving you 50-100$ for each graduate application and you can even then apply to more school if you wish. This is important to say although most school have fee waivers not all school have it and it is design for people with disadvantage background and minorities, so if you are from over-represent group fee waivers might not apply to you but some school don’t check so you could still might use it with no problem.
1-You can apply for travel award in both of them and if you are applying for SACNAS and it is your first year attendance you are more likely to received funding for travel
2- You will build your brand and create a network of mentors that will help you to apply to graduate school and help your trough your career
3-Sometimes there are free professional organization subscription
4-There are so many goodies: t-shirts, bags, water bottle, stress relievers, candies, cellphone holders, agendas, pens, pencils, sticky notes, markers, highlighter, sun glasses, etc.
5- You will meet with representative of so many schools and even some that you haven’t heard before and that you might end up applying after all
6-You will make so many friends from different schools
8-You will listen to soo many inspiring stories
9-In SACNAS, I don’t know about ABRCMS but there many schools that have a chapter so you can continue with similar activities through academic year
Continue being inspired and inspiring others