In order to have a better understanding of the career field you are interested in, speak with professors, meet with a career advisor, and/or conduct informational interviews.
- Have I had sufficient academic/career exposure to make this commitment?
- Does my field of interest require a graduate degree?
- Will I have more opportunities with a graduate degree than a bachelor’s degree?
- Can I commit to graduate school?
- Can I afford it?
- Am I psychologically/emotionally prepared to return to formal academic studies?
- Do I want to attend graduate school right after receiving a bachelor’s degree or should I take time off?
- If I enter the job market and find a job that I enjoy, would it be difficult to continue my studies?
- Am I flexible in terms of geography and handling personal relationships while in school?
It is important that you develop a system to keep track of your graduate school information early on. Your graduate school search will be successful as you are organized. It is easy to miss a deadline, don’t let that happen to you.
- Set up a system to keep organized: applications, phone calls, research, etc.
- Track the requirements and deadlines of programs in one location
- Track your personal statement(s) and requests for letters of recommendation in the same central place
Deciding Where to Apply
After you’ve done some research and found graduate schools you would like to apply to, there are key factors to consider"
- Identify key faculty in the program with whom you share research interests
- Graduate programs tend to have a specific strength or focus in one or two areas within a discipline to investigate how these match up with your interests.
- Determine the quality of the program by talking to faculty members and graduate students in the field. You may consider graduate school ranking’ however, keep in the mind that rankings may be based on criteria different from your own.
Graduate schools tend to be pricer than undergraduate schools. But as with your undergraduate education, there are different ways to pay for it. If you need financial assistance, you will still complete the FAFSA, but there are other types of aid available, such as fellowships, assistantships, and tuition payments from employers.
- Fellowships are graduate scholarships or grants. There are many types of grants available to graduate students, with most being sponsored by the federal government to encourage study in certain disciplines. They could cover the costs of everything you need while getting an advanced degree (tuition, housing, food, etc.).
- Assistantships are like work-study; they provide students with a stipend to help cover education expenses. Each college or university administers its own assistantships program and expects that you may have teaching responsibility for one or more courses, while also carrying a full course load.
- Tuition Payments from Employers is a win-win situation for employers, as they are essentially investing in their employees while their employees enjoy a free/partially free benefit. Many employers attach certain terms to this benefit, such as committing employees to work for the company for a certain period of time.