Gearing Up for Grad School

Summer is a great time to relax, tell stories around a bonfire, get sunburnt, and just have some quality time doing what you love. Doing what you love can definitely transfer over to your school year as well. Ultimately, at least for me, I never want to feel like I am working a day in my life. I want to love what I do so much that I always am looking forward to working. That is why I chose to work towards my Master’s degree upon graduating from my undergrad. My experience with the graduate school process was a long and grueling one. So I have outlined some tips that I feel would have been beneficial for me to know ahead of time.

  1. THE GRE: Make sure you give yourself enough time to take the GRE and be happy with the score you earned. There are quite a few rules and guidelines as far as the amount of time in between the tests if you want to retake the GRE to improve your score. Depending on where you are geographically, there may also be limited dates that you can take the test.
  2. RESEARCH: Look up the universities where you would want to do your studies. The school’s website should have detailed information regarding the program, faculty, alumni, and requirements. After looking at the website, feel free to send an email to a faculty member with any questions you may have!
  3. MATERIALS: Pay close attention to the requirements for each program you will be applying to. Some ask for three letters of recommendation while others just two. You may be asked to provide your GMAT score instead of GRE or perhaps there is not even a GRE requirement. Having an updated resume and personal statement is a key component to the materials as well. The best way to make sure you have everything you need materials wise is to make a check list and double check that list before you send everything in. Depending on the program, if you don’t have all the required materials they may dismiss your file completely.
  4. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Think of yourself as a professional and make sure you are being active on your LinkedIn (if you don’t have one, develop one!), join professional networks, look up conferences for the area you are interested in and just be more proactive about seeking out others and networking with them.

So in between relaxing, telling stories around the bonfire, and loving summer, perhaps think about your career and if graduate school would be a good fit for you or not. If yes, then I strongly suggest getting a jump start on researching programs and looking at requirements. Deadlines come up fast.

By Helen Schafer
Helen Schafer Coordinator for Outreach and Programming Graduate Assistant Helen Schafer