Congratulations! You’ve made the hard decision to attend graduate school. Whether it is for professional development or because you have a burning passion for the subject, you deserve praise for taking this next step in your career.
You might be wondering, what next? Obviously you need to apply, but how do you do it? Applying to graduate school is a more complicated and involved process than when you were applying for a bachelors degree. More standardized tests, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), need to be taken, transcripts need to be requested, and letters of recommendation need to be gathered. Each school will have its own requirements, but there are some general rules that apply to all graduate school applications.
The most important thing to remember is to make a plan and stick to it. Many people find it helpful to create short-term, rather than long-term, goals to meet. This helps them to maintain focus and work on their applications piece by piece, instead of cramming it in at the last minute. Create a graduate school timeline to help keep yourself on track.
Graduate School Admissions Application
Request that your 4-year college or university send an official copy of your transcripts to your prospective graduate schools right away. You might find that transcripts are easily lost in the mail, or simply not sent. Missing transcripts can render your application incomplete and delay the decision process.
Graduate schools look at your overall grades and GPA. Each class is weighted according to whether or not it is related to your field. For example, if you are applying for a masters degree in finance, an “A” in a theater arts course would weigh less than an “A” in an accounting class.
Undergraduate students who plan on attending graduate school directly after college usually take their GRE in the spring or summer before their senior year. All other graduate school candidates should follow suit and take it the spring or summer before applying. This is especially helpful if your scores are less than desirable and you need to retake before applying.
While still in your undergraduate school, remember to make an effort to connect with your professors. They will be the ones giving you a letter of recommendation, which often play a large role in deciding whether or not you are invited for a grad school admissions interview. To make the recommendation process run smoothly, make sure you give your professors several weeks notice. They will need to take the time to reflect on your performance, and a rushed recommendation may hurt, rather than help you.
If you have been out of school for a while or you attended your undergrad online, you might be wondering who you should ask for a letter of recommendation. In addition to professors, it's a good idea to ask your co-workers and employer to write a recommendation for you. They know your work habits best and will be able to write an honest review.
Grad school admissions usually include an essay called a personal statement, which provides you a chance to brag about your accomplishments and state your personal and professional goals. Begin planning your essay up to a few weeks in advance. Read sample graduate school admissions essay, think about your goals, role models, and significant events in your life. This will help you carefully structure an outline, making your essay clear and focused.
Keep in mind that grad school admissions are typically competitive. Consult a counselor to choose the best grad school program for you.
People Who Read This Article Also Read:
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Timeline for Applying to Grad School
How to Write the Best Personal Statement for Graduate School
Asking For a Letter of Recommendation For Graduate School
Letters of Recommendations for Non-Traditional Graduate School Applicants
How to Choose the Best Safety School For Your Graduate Program
How to Ace Your Graduate School Interview
How to Get Grad Schools to Compete for You