How to Get Into Graduate School: The Basics
Congratulations, you’ve made it through the first part of your higher education by completing your undergraduate degree! The time has come for you to decide what the next step in your life will be. Will you choose to begin a career, take a little time off, or return to school in pursuit of an advanced graduate degree? If the answer is the latter, it’s time to get into graduate school.
Most undergraduate students prepare for graduate school while still attending undergrad, just as many high school seniors prepare for college well before graduating. There are some important things to consider in preparation for a smooth transition from undergrad student to graduate school. Make sure you handle your schoolwork, and earn good marks in classes building up to any admission process. Transcripts will provide a snapshot of your academic accomplishments. Clearly, earning high grades in advanced placement classes versus high or average grades in easy classes will translate into an advantage on paper for the candidate who has chosen to pursue the more difficult subject matter.
Prepare Your Graduate School Material
First and foremost, preparation: prepare early and often, you can never be too prepared. It may seem like a small and automatic thing, but this step can be the difference between getting into the graduate school you want to be in, and missing the cut or deadline for admission. Preparation includes research, and knowing what undergraduate programs you will need to complete to gain acceptance into a particular graduate school. This also includes finding out admission deadlines, what standardized test you will need to take, when your test scores must be submitted, preparing requests to teachers/employers for a letter of recommendation, and finally your personal statement or admission essay.
Provide Professional Information: Don’t Be Lazy
In a sense you are applying for a job. Earning a place as a student in a grad school program is a lot like entering a new company. They expect you to be professional, intelligent, and committed to performing your end of the work. Colleges & Universities are proud to deliver high quality graduates into the work force, leaders of tomorrow, and successful personalities. It’s important that you present all of your material in a professional manner when applying for admission. This means vigorously checking everything you send in, and typing your documents with proper grammar and spelling. Have someone else check it with you, be certain that you have no mistakes. Professional presentation also translates to personal appearance if you plan on meeting with admission advisors, or the interview process that many graduate schools require for potential student enrollment.
OK, so we have covered the basics of transitioning from undergraduate to graduate school admission. Because there is a greater scope of detail for individual aspects of this process, we will provide follow up information for each of the steps. Today, we have presented the basics to give you an idea of what you will need to prepare for. Stay tuned for updates on this series for more information on popular graduate school details including: Standardized Testing (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT), Letter of Recommendation, Graduate School Interviewing Tips, and Writing an Effective Admissions Essay.
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- Earn Good Grades: Challenge yourself with harder classes if you are comfortable at that level. Don’t take classes that are above your skill level, but don’t select an easier class simply because you don’t want to work harder for a good grade.
- Gather Materials: Find out if you can apply on-line, or get the required documents for submission. Make a checklist of documents you will need to submit from start-to-finish, and complete all check marks.
- Standardized Tests: Know what test is required for the grad school program you want to pursue. Practice and study for the test, and make sure that you are prepared to produce maximum performance when you take it.
- Letters of Recommendation: This step allows you to separate yourself from the rest of the candidates. To this point you are being viewed as text on paper, with some grades attached. Good personal recommendations can elevate you as a person, and provide admissions with a sense of who you are.
- Admission Essay/Personal Statement: This is your method of telling the school why you want to enroll and graduate with them, and a chance for you to personally tell them who you are. Tell them why you should be accepted, and what it means to you.
- Interview: The final step in most cases will be an interview between you and the University. We phrase it this way because this is your chance to ask questions of the school as well. A collaborative interview allows student and school to make sure there is a match, and hopefully high potential to produce a successful graduate.
If you have any questions about specifics, don’t hesitate to ask our community or us by posting your thoughts and comments. If you have already complete graduate school, take a moment to share your success stories by leaving a comment below.