It’s that time of year—students are getting ready to graduate in a couple of months and you may find yourself wondering what exactly you want to do after college. Even if you won’t be graduating for a while, it’s still a good idea to start thinking about what path is right for you. For many, grad school gives them extra qualifications, training, and experience to get them the job they want, but it’s not for everyone and it may take a while to gather all the materials and requirements you need to apply. So, here are some things to think about if grad school has crossed your mind.
1) Think about if grad school is right for you
Do some research. Find out whether or not grad school is common for people in your desired field of work. Will doing more specialized studying give you the tools you need to be the best employee you can be? Will you fulfill a personal goal in higher education? Reach out to the experts for opinions (you can contact your program of interest directly), but definitely make the decision that feels right for you. Because, in the end, it’s about your own happiness, right?
2) Be aware of admission deadlines and requirements
If you’re thinking, “yeah, I think grad school might be necessary to achieve my personal goals,” then it’s time to research some programs. Every grad program is different and it’s crucial to be aware of those differences. For example, one program may have a rolling application window, where you can apply whenever you want and can be accepted at any time. Other programs may only admit once per year and have a small window in which you can apply. Additionally, there’s more than just master’s degrees out there. Doctoral degrees, specialist degrees, master’s degrees, and graduate certificates are all available options. Check out your preferred program and be very familiar with what type of degree it is and when, where, and how you need to apply.
3) Know whether you need to pass the GRE/GMAT
The GRE and GMAT are standardized tests that are a common requirement for admission to a lot of grad schools. Certain programs may ask for a specific score or higher before you can be admitted to the program. There are some things to consider with the GRE/GMAT, because you’ll need to study, set an appointment, take the test, and wait for the results. You’ll also need to pay for the test and you may want to purchase some study materials a few months before you go in to take the test. Put your study cap on! You got this.
4) Gather letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose
It’s also a pretty regular occurrence for programs to ask for about three letters of recommendation (but check your program’s requirements to make sure) from a trusted source, like a mentor, a professor, or an employer. It should be someone who knows you professionally, but maybe is also aware of your long-term personal goals. They should be able to speak on your behalf about why you’re an excellent candidate for your chosen program. At the same time, check out any essay or statement of purpose requirements and reflect on your own personal and professional reasons for wanting to pursue a graduate degree.
5) Put together a portfolio
While you’re writing about what a master’s degree could do for you, you may want to put together a portfolio of all of your achievements. It’s not always a requirement for grad admissions, but even so, it’s an impressive thing to have in your repertoire anyway. Taking a look at all the classes you’ve taken, jobs you’ve had, and extracurriculars you’ve participated in can give you the boost you really need to brag about yourself and your goals in your application essay. Plus, having a portfolio can totally help you get a job later on down the road!
5 ½) Dance at the fact that you’ve made a huge decision!
Whether you’ve decided to go to grad school or literally the opposite, you’ve found something out about yourself, what you want for your career, and your own personal development and that’s something to dance about!