Are you thinking about applying to graduate school? As you may recall from my last blog post, My Story: Making a Career Change at Age 29, I recently went through the application process and am working toward my master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. While not everyone may be thinking about the same field, I have a few tips for the overall process that will keep you on-track to meet those application deadlines.
- Be Organized
This will mean different things for everyone, but being organized is extremely important when applying to graduate school. For me, this was creating a spreadsheet with the schools, requirements for application, deadlines, a notes section, and color coding for different phases of the process. For you, it could be a similar process, or maybe you prefer printed documents, folders, piles, etc. No matter the process, make sure it works for you and keep an eye on your progress so you don’t miss any deadlines.
- Ask for Positive References Early
References are an important aspect to the application process. The references you choose should be able to speak to you and your work in the field you are going into. When asking for a reference, be sure to ask if the person is willing to be a “positive reference” for you. Be prepared to explain why you are applying to certain programs and to provide an updated résumé for them to reference your accomplishments.
Tip: To make sure your résumé is top notch, visit the Center for Career Development in Wilbur Cross, Room 202, from 10am-5pm Monday-Friday for walk in résumé critiques.
- Research is Important
It is important to research the specifics of programs and institutions in general, but another great way to research is through informational interviews and connecting with current contacts. I set up meetings or phone calls with many of my mentors in the field for which I was looking to attend graduate school. I learned things about institutions that I never would have known just by looking at the website. My mentors also connected me with their peers who could provide additional perspectives.
- Seek Assistance Early
Don’t hesitate to ask for help. I asked for assistance from many people; whether to look at my résumé, provide me with a positive recommendation, to discuss my options, or just for moral support while applying (since I did so during tax accounting season, eek).
As always, the Center for Career Development is here for you, so if you need additional assistance, stop by for a walk-in appointment from 12pm-4pm Monday-Friday in Wilbur Cross, Room 202. Good luck – you’ve got this!