Graduate School Preparation
Applying to graduate school can be a long and time-consuming process. It is important to start early in deciding whether or not you want to enroll in a graduate program, and where you would like to apply. The timetable below should help you in the process of weighing your graduate school options. It is essential to start earlier than was necessary several years ago when you started researching undergraduate programs because there are more and more applicants to graduate schools each year, with a limited amount of graduate assistantships and other placements.
The times indicated below are approximate. You will need to request deadlines for specific programs you are considering since they may vary significantly from institution to institution. The key to success in gaining admission to the program of your choice will be to plan ahead!
- Take practice test through Career Services offered by Kaplan (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT)
- Visit Career Services and begin work on your resume
Start browsing through guides to graduate programs and deciding where you would like to apply. Guides such as Graduate School Guide and Peterson's Guide to Graduate Schools can be found in the Career Resource Center. There is also a vast amount of information on the web including the U.S News America's Best Colleges and the Graduate Guide. You can also call, email, or write to schools to request information.
- Determine test requirements, application deadlines, test dates, etc.
- Meet with faculty members and career counselors to discuss programs
- Sign up for required standardized tests
- Take practice tests
- Check out GradProfiles featuring in-depth graduate and professional school profiles with information about degree requirements, facilities, research opportunities, expenses, and financial aid
- Take standardized tests
- Write draft of "statement of purpose" (personal statement, personal essay)
- Research financial aid sources, fellowships, and assistantships
- Meet with career counselors for information on tests and financial assistance, and for a critique of the draft of the "statement of purpose"
- Request recommendations from faculty members
- Order official transcripts from Registrar's Office: Ask if office can send a transcript with your fall term grades to meet the deadlines of the programs
- Finalize "statement of purpose" according to the question asked on the application and have career counselor or professor proofread final draft
- Mail applications: It is best to get applications in as early as possible
- Apply for fellowships, grants, and assistantships
- Contact schools about the possibility of visiting and scheduling an interview
- Contact schools about financial aid and fill out necessary forms: If you are applying for need-based financial aid, you may have to file a copy of your federal income tax returns
- Discuss acceptances and options with faculty member or career counselor
Graduate School Guide
Take the time to identify and evaluate programs in your area of interest and apply to those that best compliment your goals. A couple of general websites to begin your research are Gradschools.com and Peterson.com.
Talking to faculty members and people practicing in your chosen field can also help you identify graduate programs. Read professional journals and search for faculty publishing in your area of interest.