You are about to graduate or have graduated with your baccalaureate degree and made the decision to pursue a graduate or professional degree.
You have decided to continue your education because you love learning, want to increase your earning potential throughout your career, or you may feel that you are required to go to graduate school to have a decent job in your field. Whatever the case may be, you want to earn an advanced degree. Therefore, you must participate in another application process.
So, where do you start?
As a current or previous college student, you should have gained more experiences and knowledge to make an informed decision when selecting a school. You have an understanding of how you learn, your strengths and weaknesses, and may have some work or volunteer experience under your belt. When applying for your undergraduate degree, you may have selected your prospective schools based on your favorite sports team, a family member’s alma mater, and/or where you secured a great financial aid package. In contrast to an undergraduate application, graduate school applications require specific information. For example, some graduate applications require interviews, letters of recommendations from faculty, and resumes.
Below are some actions I recommend prospective graduate students complete while conducting their graduate school search.
Contact the Graduate School and Academic Department BEFORE Application submission
Institutions and academic programs provide a wealth of information on their websites, however, there is uncertainty as to how often it is updated. Contact graduate schools to learn about the graduate admissions process. Also, it is helpful to speak with faculty about the nuances of their program and ask pointed questions. For example:
- How many students are admitted to the program each year?
- How long does it take for most students to earn their degree?
- Is it allowable for students to work full-time in this program?
Explore Internal and External Funding Opportunities
Program faculty are responsible for nominating recently admitted students for scholarship and fellowship opportunities. Contact the department chair to inquire about how they submit student’s names for nominations. Also, faculty members can refer students to funding opportunities that are available through national associations, graduate assistantships, and discipline specific scholarships.
Schedule a Campus Visit
Visit prospective campuses to meet with faculty, administration, and students. During campus visits, you can get a close look at the campus and meet face-to-face with individuals who will be evaluating your graduate school application. Also, you can explore the city and surrounding areas. Consider the following questions:
- Where will you live?
- Is there public transportation or will you need a vehicle?
- What is the condition of the library and research facilities on campus?
I hope this information is helpful and assists you with your application process.