Career Planning and Development
Applying To Graduate School...
If you’re considering continuing on to graduate school, first and foremost, you must determine WHY!! Why are you pursing a graduate degree? Choosing to attend graduate school as a means of delaying the job search is not a wise move, even in poor economic times. Ask yourself:
- Is a professional graduate degree needed for my professional career (medical/law/dental school, etc.)?
- Will graduate education assist me in pursuing my personal career goals? (i.e. MBA)
Applying to Graduate Schools
Decide where you would like to attend based upon the type of program offered, geographic location, admissions requirements, etc. Begin reviewing application criteria in the summer before your senior year of college or at least a year before you plan to start graduate school. Deadlines will vary significantly depending on the institution to which you apply. Contact programs about the possibility of visiting, and make trips if possible. (Be sure to brush up on your Interviewing Skills.)
Admissions criteria are one of the main factors you must take into consideration when applying to graduate and professional schools. Entrance criteria and standards vary from institution to institution. Criteria for admission are dependent upon the academic discipline, selectivity of the institution, and number of seats available in the program.
Criteria for admission will typically include the following:
- Grade Point Average (GPA)
- Standardized test scores ( GRE, MAT, LSAT, MCAT, or GMAT score)
- Personal Statement/Statement of Purpose
Meet with current faculty members to discuss your statement and possible programs. Ask for letters of recommendation.
- Experience or Undergraduate Research
- Completion of Course Prerequisites
- Letters of Recommendation
- Admission Essays
- Resume or CV
To How Many Schools Should You Apply?
A common recommendation is to apply to five or six schools, reflecting the following categories:
- One program that is extremely desirable with very competitive admissions standards
- Three programs that are realistic for you in terms of admission standards and that also meet your criteria
- Two programs you are confident in being admitted to that meet your criteria
Some students choose to apply to 10 or more graduate and professional schools; however, keep in mind that this can become costly in terms of time and money.
When Should You Start Submitting Applications?
- Be sure to contact each school well in advance to determine graduate application deadline dates. Most deadlines fall between December and March but each program will have a specific deadline.
- For some universities it is best to apply in November or December of your senior year, due to the popularity and reputation of an institution’s program, to be admitted for the next academic year.
- Generally, the more competitive the program is, the earlier you need to submit all pertinent application materials.
What Financial Aid and Assistance Are Available To Graduate Students?
Contact institutions directly to learn about financial assistance. The aid package will incorporate a combination of:
- Work programs (assistantships, institutional funding, and other part-time jobs on campus)
- Monetary awards (grants, fellowships, and scholarships)
- Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized). **Make sure you understand the differences in loans and your responsibility to repay them. **