Is graduate school in your future? This is a question that will undoubtedly enter
your mind at one time or another during your college career. Making the decision to
attend graduate school is an important one and will require serious consideration
on your part. Our country’s graduate and professional schools have been experiencing
a steady increase in applicants since specialization in a certain area is often desired
or required to meet the career goals of individuals. Unfortunately, some individuals
pursue graduate studies because they want to postpone their job search or deciding
on a specific career. This is NOT a good reason to enter graduate school! Schools
look for individuals who want to develop themselves personally and professionally,
and have an understanding of what they hope to accomplish with their education.
Before applying for further study, you need to be fully aware of the working conditions, employment outlook, and physical/mental requirements of the field you wish to pursue. In addition, the more immediate demands of research, coursework, and research papers are all part of graduate school and must be considered. There are defined course requirements in most graduate and professional school curriculum, but you are expected to have the ability to build a program based on your interests and goals. You may want to consider the following:
• What do I want to accomplish in my lifetime?
• What are my long and short range professional goals?
• Is graduate school necessary for me to achieve my professional/personal goals?
• Do I have the interest and ability in my subject matter to be successful in a graduate program?
• By going to graduate school, am I simply delaying my career and/or job search?
• Am I willing to invest the necessary time and money for graduate studies?
Some steps you can take now include:
• Talk to your academic advisor, a faculty member you feel comfortable with, or Career Services about your career and academic goals.
• Talk to people in the field(s) you are interested in for the future. How did these people get to this point in their career? Is graduate school the only or best route to the career you desire?
• Get experience in your field! These include internships, practicum experiences, or summer jobs within your field. This will help to bolster your credentials for jobs or if you apply to graduate, and will also help determine your interest level in certain areas.
• Thoroughly research the requirements before deciding whether to immediately attend graduate school. Some institutions and/or fields prefer applicants who have at least a year of applied experience.
Once you have made the decision to attend graduate school, keeping a Graduate School Planner is suggested. The planner we have prepared provides you with general guidelines for graduate school admissions, along with a timeline for completing critical steps. View our Graduate School Planner now! Factors that you should be aware of when applying for graduate school include application deadlines, academic programs offered, location, finances, and most importantly your ultimate career goals.
One valuable resource that we encourage you to explore is http://www.gradschools.com , which allows you to search for graduate schools based on program interest and/or geographic location. Researching for graduate schools is a lengthy and time consuming process, but this resource will make your search easier and more successful. We also encourage you to visit www.petersons.com and www.accepted.com for additional information on areas related to graduate school.
Try to select schools in three categories, including schools where it will be difficult to gain admission, schools where you have a moderate chance of gaining admission, and a few schools where you are confident you can gain admission. There is no reason to spend the money and time on applying to graduate schools where you have no chance of gaining admission or would definitely not attend if accepted. The questions below were designed to help you start thinking about what type of school fits your needs/requirements.
• What geographic location do you desire/require?
• Are you looking for a school with a national, regional, or local reputation?
• What size student body do you desire?
• What is your preferred faculty/student ratio? How accessible do you want your faculty to be?
• What method of teaching do you prefer?
• What specific research projects or contracts do you wish your faculty to be engaged in at the institution? Does the faculty you will be studying under have research opportunities that excite you?
• How would you describe a supportive library in your field?
• Is it very important that you have the choice of many or very specific types of practicum/internship opportunities?
• Do you like the philosophy and orientation of the program? Does it have a blend of research and practical experience?
• Would you want a job with the types of companies/organizations that recruit the institution’s graduates?
• Are your GPA and test scores compatible with the institution’s requirements?
• Can you afford to go to the institution based on tuition, and available financial aid and housing?
• Does your program of interest allow electives or possible joint degrees with other programs or institutions?
• What extracurricular opportunities are available, such as student associations, newspapers and magazines, and other campus groups?
• Is it important that your faculty be prestigious lecturers/publishers known as recognized experts in the field?
• What is the emphasis in the graduate program in relation to your personal career interests and goals? Does the institution emphasize research, theory, or practice?
• What percentage of students who begin the program actually complete the program?
• How long does it take to complete a degree at the institution?
For information on financing graduate school, please visit www.FinAid.org , www.FastWeb.com, and www.ed.gov.
Formal applications vary from one institution to the next, but each usually consists of an application form, separate financial aid application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and any required test scores. Pay close attention to the deadline fees and any required application fees. Candidates must include a variety of information in the application form, but one important piece is your Personal Statement, which normally is not completed until several drafts have been written. Donald Asher’s Graduate Admissions Essays: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why book is a great resource. View information about Personal Statements now! Another important aspect of graduate school admissions is the interview, which candidates should look at just as they would any other professional interview if they are required to participate in one. You can schedule a mock interview with our office in order to prepare for the interview. You should also be prepared to ask the interviewer questions so that you appear well prepared. View Questions to Ask Graduate Programs now! It is a good idea to schedule times to speak with current faculty and students while you are on the campus, and to observe some classes. Take time to explore the campus and surrounding area to see if you like the atmosphere.
Graduate school testing information packets can be obtained from the Career Services office. We offer additional resources that will assist you with this important step toward your future, so we encourage you to visit our office and learn about what we provide. Additional graduate school information can be found in the online Career Planning Guide.
Graduate School Admission Exams
Websites and test dates for the major graduate school entrance exams are listed below for your convenience. Please explore these websites because there is a great deal of information on them.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Test Dates: Year-round computer-based testing available at centers worldwide for the General Test. Visit the GRE website for detailed information. If your schools of choice require a Subject Test for admission, please see the GRE website or Career Services for information regarding dates and information.
Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
Test Dates: Year-round computer-based testing available at centers in multiple locations. Visit the GMAT website for detailed information.
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
Test Date: View website
Test Deadline Date: View website
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
Test Dates: Year-round computer-based testing available at centers in multiple locations. Visit the MCAT website for detailed information.
Optometry Admission Test (OAT)
Test Dates: Year-round computer-based testing available at centers in multiple locations. Visit the OAT website for detailed information.
Dental Admission Testing (DAT)
Test Dates: Year-round computer-based testing available at centers in multiple locations. Visit the DAT website for detailed information.
Millers Analogies Testing (MAT)
Test Dates: Year-round testing is available. Please go to listed website and do a search for “Millers Analogies Testing” for detailed information.