Is graduate or professional school in your future
plans? Certainly if an advanced degree is required for entry into a
particular field—such as law, physical therapy or the ministry—then
graduate school is essential. For other students, the question becomes a
little more complicated.
The staff of the Career Development Center will help you with the
entire process, from contemplating graduate school to funding your
graduate program. Stop by and see us, wherever you are in the process.
Applying to graduate school is a major life decision. Individuals who
choose to attend graduate school do so for a variety of reasons. Before
you apply, be sure your decision has been well thought out. The
following issues are worth considering:
- Reading: Examine professional journals and publications.
They will provide you with important insight about your field. Know that
graduate studies require extensive amounts of independent reading.
- Writing: A major part of graduate work involves
writing. You will be expected to write as much—more likely more—than you
did in college (depending on your major). Often the final project is a
thesis or some extensive work on a particular subject.
- Statistics: Most graduate programs require a
statistics course. You may want to take statistics as an undergraduate
or during the summer to prepare yourself for this course, especially if
you have not taken a mathematics course recently.
- Presentations: You will be expected to deliver
presentations in graduate school. If you are awarded a teaching
assistantship, you may be teaching undergraduate classes. To prepare for
this, practice speaking to groups as often as you can. Student
organizations often provide good speaking opportunities.
- Research: Library research skills are a vital
component of graduate study. Be prepared for extensive research even if
you are not doing dissertation work. If you are awarded a research
assistantship, you will have research for your professor as well as your
own to complete.
- Organizational skills: Graduate school will require
you to juggle a variety of assignments and activities. You may also be
involved as a teaching or research assistant. The better the
organizational skills you have, the easier it will be to manage several
- Motivation: You need to want to be in a particular
program. Don’t jump into a graduate program too quickly. Examine all of
your options carefully.
- Timing: Consider whether you need some time away from
school to consider your options. Time away from an academic environment
can be valuable, and graduate schools look favorably on applicants who
make a conscious decision to gain experience and then return to school.
- Qualifications: Choose a program most appropriate to
your academic level and experience. Before applying to a program, assess
the qualities you have with those of the department.
- Economics: Graduate school can be very expensive.
Explore all options through the graduate school you plan to attend, in
addition to seeking information about grants, fellowships and
scholarships for graduate study.