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Applying to Graduate School: What you need to do to become a Grad Student

Updated on June 13, 2012
applying to graduate school?
applying to graduate school? | Source

In these bad economic times many have given the thought to going back to school or continuing their education to receive a graduate degree. Learning is always a great decision, especially if the result of the education will supply you with economic security as well as mental fulfillment. However the process to apply can be tedious (trust me I know). Like every educational experience I have gone through, I have been bullheaded; determined that I could not only ride through the process on my own but face no problems in that journey. I can tell you now I've been wrong at every step, adding stress to the procedure. So when it came to applying to graduate school it was no different! The good news is I did eventually get into a graduate program and currently I am almost done with it! Before I moved on to my higher level of education I learned a few things on the way which might help others in their quest to apply to graduate school. Besides persistence and determination there are a number of steps you need to take in order to get into a graduate program.

The Grad School Process

  1. Make a decision- What do you want to study? Where do you want to study?
  2. Prepare- If still in school maintain good grades, take relevant classes and activities. If at work make sure to work well for when recommendations are needed, will you be switching careers? if so what skills can you improve at your job now to help in the future?
  3. Organize- Make a list of everything you need to complete to apply
  4. Take the GRE- Take it multiple times if necessary and brush up on math and vocab!
  5. Choose a school and Program- Choose a number of programs just like undergrad you want reach schools, safety schools and everything in between!
  6. Visit the school and program- make sure you like the area, the atmosphere and talk to students in the program and professors you may be working with!
  7. Get Recommendations- get a number of recommendations from Professors, advisers, or employers
  8. Write a Statement of Purpose- This is one of the few areas where your personality shows through the application so make sure to giver yourself enough time to write an honest statement!
  9. Apply! - gather up all materials, statement of purpose, recommendations, application, application fee, transcripts and submit them to the appropriate places.
  10. Be Persistent! - check in to make sure all materials arrived on time and the correct destination, don't be afraid to check up on the status once and a while.
  11. Make a Decision- out of the programs you have been accepted to which one will you go to? If not accepted start the process over again, take more classes or retake the GRE's, get work experience in the area of study.

WELCOME To GRAD SCHOOL! Remember you voluntarily went into this!

My Suggestions

1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, apply to multiple programs, have reach schools as well as safety schools, all to guarantee that you start your graduate program at the time your planning.

2. Make sure you review the simple stuff for the GRE, it might be years since you’ve done some of the algebra or vocabulary and you don’t want it to come back to haunt you.

3. Keep up good relations with old professors or bosses; they make excellent references for recommendation letters.

4. If you feel the need, take the GRE as many times as you need, it does cost a little money but if you can improve your score you end up with more options.

5. If still an undergraduate make sure your grades are high, you have some experience whether that is as a research assistant, an internship, or a thesis, the more experience you have in a subject the better off you are.

6. Don't give up, if going to graduate school is what you really want to do then be persistent and it will happen!

7. Finally Celebrate Achievements, just getting into graduate school is a great accomplishment! Good Luck!!!!


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    • BWD316 profile image

      Brian Dooling 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks JT, what i found most difficult about the GRE was the fact that the computer based test is designed to test you on easy stuff first, aka stuff you learned in high school years before, and then if you get those questions right to move on to harder ones, which would help your score. So it was the stuff i learned years before that i took for granted that gave me some trouble but i still did well!

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      I too am a graduate school graduate and went on to work on my PhD. Although I passed the GRE when I was 21n the first time I took it, it can represent an obstacle for many students.

      You have a lot of really good advice in this article.

      Vote Up!!