If you’re thinking about your post-graduate options, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind when it comes to grad school. From selecting a university and program, submitting applications, and narrowing down your choices, the process can be overwhelming. I’m still an undergraduate student, but going to graduate school has been something I’ve always wanted to do. In the meantime, I’ve been looking into it and getting the hands-on scope from my friends who have gone through or are currently going through the experience.
If you’re in need of some insight or pointers, here’s my guide of all the useful information and suggestions I’ve collected to help with the graduate school process.
What to do now as an undergrad or recent graduate:
If you have some time before graduate school applications roll around or are still fresh into college, there are some things you can do to make yourself stand out when the time comes.
- Have an idea of what you want from a program, and where you would want to go so that your options are open but not overwhelmingly extensive.
- Build up on extracurriculars and job experiences that are relevant to your program and interests. Leadership in these areas is also a padded bonus.
- Work hard in your classes. Having good grades can really boost your competitiveness in terms of application acceptances and funding.
This is the point in time where you should have a pretty solid idea of what you want your focus to be in. From there, you can narrow down to schools that have the programs you are looking for.
- Visit these schools and make sure you show you’re serious about the program.
- Research your schools that are of interest, and make sure to reach out and contact the faculty you want to work with. For you to be accepted, a professor has to be willing to be your adviser and work along with you, and in the case that it doesn’t happen, your application will be rejected. By taking the first step, you can gauge whether or not a certain school is feasible for you. Furthermore, make sure you read the work of faculty before selecting to get an idea of their interests and focus.
- Keep in mind all deadlines and requirements.
- If you are planning to go to grad school the following year, begin prepping for your applications in advance by researching requirements and working on them.
- As soon as applications open, begin working on them. You should aim to submit your application at least two weeks before the due date. Better safe than sorry.
- A majority of schools require the GRE, a writing sample, and letters of recommendation.
- Make sure you allot enough time to study if you have to, and take care of all of these documents.
- Polish your CV and resume. Being a more competitive candidate can raise your shots at acceptance and funding.
- Don’t forget to include relevant work and extracurricular activities, as well as instances of leadership.
- If you have published work in a journal, a big project, or anything noteworthy along those lines, make sure to include it.
- Make sure to add in if you are currently doing work or projects, or developing skills relevant to your program.
- Look into how funding will work for you. Check out the funding offered by the graduate university and its program,and see its availability and competitiveness so you can plan from there. Look into external scholarships as well.
Narrowing it down
- Keep in mind factors such as location. If you know you can’t handle cold weather, the northeast may not be the best option. Likewise, if going out of state is not an option, focus your choice around schools that fit you.
- A major aspect to keep in mind is funding. If you can’t afford tuition at one choice, but have received a stipend or scholarship for another, you should highly consider the option that gives you the best funding if the program fits your needs.
- If you’ve received funding from multiple universities, stating this can make you more competitive and even get universities to give you better offers as they try to recruit you.
If you were considering graduate school, hopefully you picked up a tip or two for a smoother application process. There’s definitely a lot that comes with graduate school, but with good planning, organization, and well-roundedness, you will make it through with success.
Featured image from Pexels.