Thinking About Graduate School?

Another two, three, four or even more years of education!? The thought of obtaining a graduate education isn’t for everyone.  But there are many others who are contemplating the idea, or have even decided that additional education is in the cards. Applying for graduate programs can be intimidating and oftentimes stressful. Common questions such as: “What will I do if I’m not accepted anywhere?” or  “ I don’t have the requirements for my favorite school, what should I do?” are often tossed around.  My experience began with a lot of stress but ended happily when I was accepted and ultimately decided to attend the University of Missouri. Here are a few tips from my experience applying for graduate schools that may help in yours:

  1. Do your research
    There are so many things to consider when applying to graduate programs. The biggest hurdle is often the cost of education. Will the benefits of your additional education outweigh the cost of attendance? Secondly, it’s important to view your application from an outside perspective. How competitive is your current application? Competitiveness depends on the program you are intending to apply for and the various schools requirements. Another aspect is the admission tests that many programs require. Some of these include the MCAT, LSAT or GRE. It is often suggested that you spend some time preparing for these. Many are only offered at certain times so careful planning is important. Finally, application deadlines vary for many schools. By the time you decide to start applying, school deadlines you might have be interested could be flying by!
  2. Don’t be scared away by admission standards but be realistic
    Most schools will list minimum standards for admission. Unless it is specifically stated that they will not view applications without achieving these standards, there is a good chance that they will still give you a good look!  My mistake was thinking that I didn’t have the exact threshold GPA or number of volunteer hours that they required. I remedied this by highlighting important experiences that made me a more competitive applicant. Granted, there is a certain limit as to which someone doesn’t quite make these admission standards but remain competitive applicants. Take time to carefully examine your application and the schools you are interested in.
  3. Apply to more than one school
    As the old saying goes… “Don’t put your eggs all in one basket”. It may be the only school you want to attend, but still apply for more than one school! You want to be prepared for a change in circumstance, such as other opportunities for assistantships or scholarships. Keep in mind that it’s better to have more choices than none.

Check back next week for more tips when applying to graduate school!