Graduate School Planning And Applying For It
Getting into graduate school is a great decision but only few choose this path because of various reasons like lack of financial resources to support higher education. However, earning a higher degree can provide a lot of advantages in terms of personal achievement, employment opportunities, and salaries.
Getting a master’s or doctorate degree can open a lot of opportunities plus with so many learning methods available today, finishing a graduate degree is now possible even while you are already working. If you are thinking of proceeding to graduate school after you finish your undergraduate degree, here are some basic info and tips to help you with the planning and application processes.
Planning Ahead Is Always An Advantage
Planning ahead is very crucial especially when you are finally decided to go to graduate school so you can already research, look for schools, prepare for requirements, and apply in various schools as early as possible. Most students decide to enter graduate school for professional advancement purposes but it also requires additional years of study, expenses, and commitment.
To determine if graduate school is really for you, you should consider your goals, interests, dreams, resources, and capabilities and make sure to be honest about these things to yourself. If you think that you are not prepared to enter graduate school, then it would be best to wait to avoid wasting your time.
Considering Your Financial Situation And Options
One of the biggest factors affecting a person’s decision when it comes to education is financial limitations. Anyone would definitely love to earn higher educational attainment but not everyone have the money to support it. When planning for graduate school, you should also think of the price tag of entering graduate school and your options.
If you are not that well off, you can look for financial assistance programs established to help students in graduate school. Some companies provide scholarships to their employees who want to advance their education so make sure to inquire if you are already employed. You can also consider studying while working but make sure that you are willing to commit to a more hectic study-work schedule.
Applying To Graduate School General Timeline
Graduate schools’ timeline may vary so make sure to inquire from the schools you are considering to apply so you can prepare for the application processes and requirements early on. To give you an idea on the timeline, here is a guide or a “general” timeline for most graduate schools in the country.
- General Admission Month Fall Or September
The general graduate admission month is usually fall season. So you should prepare for the graduate school applications months before that. A year before your target admission to graduate school or September, apply and take the standardized tests required by your prospective graduate schools. Some of the common standardized tests required in graduate schools are GRE or Graduate Record Exam, LSAT or Law School Admission Test for law students, and MCAT or Medical College Admissions Test for med students depending on your course or degree program.
During this time you should also already collect some graduate program brochures and guides from your prospective graduate schools so you can narrow down your choices. It is also time to consider the possible faculty members and individuals who can provide you with letters of recommendation.
- September To October
For the months of September to October, you should now look for possible financial aid if you need one and then start writing your graduate admissions essays. If you are still in college, you can request your instructor or professor to read your essays and ask feedback and advice. It would also be great if you can already obtain your letters of recommendation this early so you can prepare and process other requirements.
- November To December
Prepare your Official Transcripts and send them to your prospective graduate schools or programs. You should also already finalize your admission essays and send your application to possible financial aid sources.
- December To January
These are usually the months for application deadlines. Make sure to complete application forms and send them a week or two before the deadline. Some graduate schools accept online applications so check the official website of the graduate school.
Graduate schools usually send receipt of application through postcard or email so keep track of those receipts to ensure that each school received your application. If you do not receive email or postcard from one of the schools you applied, contact the school’s admission office and inquire if they received your application so you can resend if they did not and if they would still accept.
This is the month for admission interviews so make sure to prepare for a lot of interviews. Double check your schedule and make sure that there are no conflicts especially if you applied to many schools. You should also complete your FAFSA or Federal Student Aid application.
- March To April
During these months, you should already receive emails or letters of acceptance or rejection from the schools you have applied. If possible, visit the schools to which you have been accepted and decide which school to enter. Make sure to notify the school you chose and the schools you declined.
Requirements For Applying In Graduate School
- Official Transcripts
- GRE and other standardized tests
- Letters of recommendation
- Admission essays
Additional tests may be required like English proficiency exams especially for students who are not US Citizens or their official language are not English.
Additional Tips For Aspiring Graduate School Students
Getting high grades is definitely an advantage when deciding to proceed to graduate school. However, most people would think that they would not be accepted in graduate schools if their undergraduate performance were not good enough. Graduate schools do not only look at the undergraduate grades but they also consider the completed courses, essays, and life experience of the applicant.
If you think that your college grades are not that good, take some few graduate courses first and make sure to finish them with flying colors to show that you are capable, serious and determined for graduate studies. Make sure also to make a really good admission essay since this will be your tool to convince the admission committee especially if your undergraduate record is not that convincing.