Graduate school is a way for academics as well as professional adults to pursue advanced studies in a particular subject. Undergraduate programs require students to take classes in a variety of fields so that their educational experience is diverse. With more time to study and prepare, she can start considering graduate school as early as her third year (traditionally her four-year bachelor’s program). Perhaps you are early in your career or need a last minute consideration. In any case, here are some suggestions and tips based on my experience.
There are two main questions that everyone should consider when evaluating whether they want to go to graduate school.
Why do you want to go to graduate school? Really, I think the question should be answered is what does this master’s degree, PhD, or other advanced degree offer me? Contributing to your trajectory as an employer? This may or may not be accurate, depending on the type of work you are interested in. On the other hand, are you interested in a career in academia as a professor or researcher? A postgraduate education in the social sciences, unlike a degree in the humanities or other sciences, requires an MFA in dance, visual arts, physics, or microbiology. (Masters in Fine Arts) or Ph.D. I hope these questions are helpful to you, but as a social scientist you probably have different timelines and requirements than I did!
Assuming you are a traditional undergraduate, your age at graduation will likely be 22-23. What kind of lifestyle do you want to lead in your mid-to-late 20s? This is an underestimate at this stage of the process. You only get one of these terms, but graduate school is theoretically around forever. Do I have to go straight from undergraduate to graduate school? I didn’t.I graduated in 2015 and started my current program in 2020.At that time, I went through so many life changes.If I took that break to start my career If I hadn’t taken When I decided to apply to graduate school in 2019, I had to consider:
- Which part of the world would I like to live in and what are the personal/family concerns associated with it?
- What kind of school do I want to attend (R1, public or private, etc.), and when I’m there, will I be a part-time or full-time student? (It’s time to think about funding!)
When I started the application process, I was in a long-term relationship with someone who had a very specific desire for where to live, specifically I needed to leave Colorado. Later we broke up. At that point, I had to revisit this question. I researched good schools for my program and at the last minute applied to two of his schools that I had previously ruled out based on original restrictions. Are you interested in studying in another country? Do you have family in a specific area? This will inform some of your decisions here. But if you don’t want to live in a cosmopolitan metropolis, or if you’re looking to move to an urban area that’s still closer to your family’s rural hometown, you’ll want to find a college that fits your needs. He strongly recommended that I go to his R1 university.This is perfect for my goal, but there are others classification it might work for you. My program invests in graduate student and faculty research, provides available TA and RA positions and conference and publication support. This informs another question about part time or full time. A full-time graduate student takes courses and is paid by the department employed as her teaching assistant or her research assistant. If your program does not offer such a funded placement, you may need to consider becoming a part-time student so you can work part-time.
Now that you’ve done your cost-benefit analysis and concluded that graduate school is the right path for you, what is the application process like?
After deciding where the school you want to attend is, the first thing to look for is GREThen find out when and where you can sign up for the GRE and start learning. I had to take it, but now that my program no longer needs it, you’ll want to check it. application form and your experience may vary!
- When is the deadline? My deadline was January 3, 2020 to start in August 2020.
- What does the online application include?
- Purpose statement: This is a thesis I am writing to explain my interest in pursuing a graduate degree in my field. This may include a description of the background and past work that led to your current interest, and a discussion of current and future developments of your interest. It’s fine if you know exactly what you want, but it’s fine if you don’t. It would be most beneficial for the admissions committee to see your thoughtfulness about the issues you are passionate about in your field and how their particular program supports those passions. can also describe in this section how to transfer skills from the undergraduate field to this new field. You need to get a few people you trust to read it and give you solid feedback. If you already know someone who is in a graduate program (it doesn’t have to be the same as you!), it’s great to ask them. But really, anyone who understands your goals as a graduate student and understands the function of the application’s purpose statement will be a good reader.
- Unofficial Transcript: You need one from each educational institution you attend, such as a community college or summer session, even if you haven’t completed the course. After being accepted, you will need to submit the “official” one you requested from the same institution.
- Three letters of recommendation: These should come from faculty or mentors who know your work and can talk about your past accomplishments and evaluation of your commitment as a student and researcher. A draft statement of purpose must be shared with each referrer at the time of request. It is an honor and many will be happy to write for you. Give them plenty of time before the deadline to ask them. You will probably never see this letter. In most cases, your program has an online portal where you enter your email address, and you can see when the letter was sent, but not the contents of the letter itself. This is an unspoken rule of not getting copies and is a communication between the referrer and the school.
- GRE score: After taking the test, if you need to take the test, enter the required school at the test center and send the score when you receive the results.
- TOEFL or IELTS score: These scores are required for applicants from non-English speaking institutions and each school has different requirements, so please visit the university website directly for more information.
- Writing sample: In some cases this is optional. I had a very good paper from the last program, so I decided to include one. Since I was applying to a field different from my undergraduate field, I felt that this was useful because I was able to demonstrate my knowledge and talent as a scholar.
Going to graduate school is a big decision that only you can make. You are the one who knows your situation best and can determine if this is the right path for you at this point in your life. Maybe you choose to work like me and then come back, and maybe you don’t need another degree. But if this is your path, I am rooting for you! That was a positive for me. Good luck with this application season.
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