Tips for Preparing for Grad School
Deciding to further your education and attend graduate school isn’t an easy decision. There are a lot of elements that factor into the application process, and even before the application process begins. If you’re interested in graduate studies, check out these tips.
Deciding to further your education and attend graduate school isn’t an easy decision. There are a lot of elements that factor into the application process, and even before the application process begins. If you’re interested in graduate studies, here are 5 tips to keep in mind as you get started:
- Self Evaluate
- First and foremost, ask yourself why? Why do you want to attend graduate school? What are you going to get out of it?
- What are your long-term goals? Short-term goals?
- What are you interested in getting a graduate degree in?
- Start Early.
- Giving yourself enough time to self-evaluate, research and apply is the key to a remotely stress-free graduate preparation process. It’s a good idea to go ahead and start your research as soon as you develop an interest in continuing your education. This way, you’ve got a head start on what you want and have time to prepare a plan to get it. In addition, many graduate applications require letters of recommendation, a resume, GRE test scores and a statement of purpose/letter of intent. Starting early helps you accomplish these tasks without a heavy deadline. You want to allot enough time for your professors/employers/peers who write your letters of recommendation to write and submit, for your GRE test scores to come in (and if you need to retake the test) and to perfect your statement of purpose/letter of intent and resume.
- Research. Research. Research.
- Your environment is a huge factor in graduate success; do you want to stay where you completed your undergraduate career? Explore options out of state? Or in-state? Keep in mind that it’s important to keep your options open; research a variety of places, and narrow them down using location as a strategic factor – some schools offer local internship options that benefit your experience as a student and hopeful employee. Take this into consideration while researching prospective graduate study locations.
- Not only should you research the various grad programs you are interested in, but you should also research the different schools that offer what you want. Which school offers the best education for your decision? Make a list, and make sure, in your research, that the school and program you choose is the best fit for you and your goals.
- Online or in-person is also an important element to factor in when preparing for your graduate career. Are you planning to get a job, take time off or travel? Research the benefits of online graduate courses and in person learning and choose the best fit for you and your lifestyle.
- Network and Communicate
- Talk to people! The best and most effective tool you can utilize when preparing for your graduate studies is your voice! Reach out to graduates currently in your program of choice, your advisor and professors in the field and ask questions. You can communicate through phone calls, emails and even in-person office drop-by’s. Many colleges have informational sessions you can attend with professionals manning booths to answer questions and help guide your graduate study decisions.
- If you don’t know: ask.
- Get a handle on finances
- Be reasonable and realistic with your money. How are you going to pay for it? You might need to get a part-time job, take out loans or apply for scholarships. Some graduate programs include a stipend, do your research and discover the options.
- There are a plethora of resources available to you in terms of scholarships and other financial inquiries. If you’re interested, visit the resource tab on the Career Resource Center website for more information regarding graduate school funding.
Courtney Hancock is a senior public relations student at the University of Florida. She currently works with the UF Distance and Continuing Education Marketing Department as an intern. When she's not writing articles for the News Lounge, she's pursuing her life goals to laugh often & love dogs.