If you are going to be applying for grad school, be prepared to give it a lot of time and effort. It's not always an easy process. There are a lot of choices to make and things to think about. It can be a very positive and rewarding thing too. During the process you will necessarily engage in some serious introspection. As you complete your application, you'll be thinking back on who you are, what events in your life and choices led you to the educational path you have decided to pursue, and why you should be admitted into graduate school. Here are some tips regarding graduate school.
Picking a school and a program:
Just like when you applied for college, you'll want to narrow your list of schools down before you start applying. It's simply too much work to go through the application process for several schools. As you are choosing your schools, you should be considering a variety of things:
- Location: Where, geographically, would you like to go to school. Location is more important for some students than others, but it should be a consideration.
- Admission requirements: Some schools require higher standardized test scores and/or better grades than others. It's recommended that you apply to at least one school where you feel really positive about your chances of admission, then choose two or three other schools that may be a little more challenging for you.
- Environment: Just like when you started college, you want to make sure that your prospective school is a place you'll be comfortable and enjoy spending time at for a few years. Plan a visit, and when you do, really pay attention to the culture and the "feel" of the place. See if you can picture yourself there.
- Good reputation and job placement: You want to choose a school that has a good reputation, specifically for the program you will be taking. It's a good idea to talk with the school to find out if they have a job placement program and get information on how many graduates have landed jobs within their field of study.
Taking the Test:
The standardized test you have to take for admissions may vary depending upon the graduate degree you are pursuing, but you will have to take one. Start working on this process well, in advance; three to 6 months at least. This will give you time to prepare for the test, take practice tests, and even re-take the test if necessary. The schools for which you are applying will be receiving these scores, and they will weigh heavily on the final decision for admission.
Completing the application:
There are several parts to a graduate school application. Just like your college applications, there are deadlines, so start early to make sure you have plenty of time to get everything completed before the deadline. Here are some parts of the application to pay particular attention to:
- Transcripts: Read directions on how to request and submit your transcripts. Each school may have different ways they'd like you to do this. Request the transcripts from your school well in advance.
- Letters of Recommendation: These are a very important part of your application. In order to get the best letters, you must choose carefully who to ask, be detailed with them about what you need, and give them plenty of time to get them completed before the deadline.
- Personal statement: This is your chance to tell your prospective school about you. Take your time and give them the best personal statement you possibly can. Follow each school's directions on what they want and how they want it formatted. Spend some time with friends and family, or even professors and have them review your personal statement and make suggestions.