10 tips for applying to graduate school

By Cambron Alsbrook

Graduate School can seem daunting and scary for many reasons. If you are considering graduate school, then here are some tips.

Ten things need to be taken in account as a prospective graduate student makes their first steps towards graduate school:

1. The first thing to recognize—for college graduates—is that they have made it through college. They have the skill and the knowledge to get through graduate school. Self-doubt is going to haunt applicants during the entirety of their application journey; so, for those who are applying, their top priority should be to exercise confidence and faith in themselves and, by extension, the information they provide on their application.

2. Secondly, applicants need to know their resources. This branches into multiple areas of information needed for the application process. Locating the information needed and where they can be found ahead of time will serve applicants rather well.

 Organization of materials ensures that if information changes prior to the applying process, applicants can be aware of it and quickly make the necessary changes to avoid prolonging the process.

3. Finding recommendations for an application is tough. The applicant should try finding people who know them and are related to the field they are hoping to study. The student must locate appropriate resources for their application, which includes a transcript, a resume/CV, the application itself and recommendations from individuals related to the field of prospective study.

For example, find a foreign languages teacher to recommend the hopeful graduate student, and who can attest to character and level of determination for success in the chosen foreign language.

4. A hopeful graduate student needs to take the required tests early, so they can retake and improve their scores. Students who retake the tests and have improved scores look better to graduate schools rather than students who took the test one time.

This is because the student who retook the tests has determination in documented proof, while the student who took it one time might have done well on it and is just as determined does not have such proof. Documented proof of determination appeals to graduate colleges more.

5. Research the prospective schools. Make sure to find the proper coursework that is required for the graduate program there versus elsewhere. It is fine to ask for the required coursework— you can print out a list of classes. Comparing information between schools early can help an applicant make concrete decisions down the road and prepare the applicant for the program they ultimately decide on get into.

School comparisons are good because you can find and compare cost, classes, hours needed and cost of living around that school, thus giving an applicant a fuller picture to make the best decision for themselves. This information can be found on the school’s website, or simply by emailing an information representative at the target school to request information.

6. Evaluate the area around the university. If accepted into graduate school, one must know the cost of living in the general area—assuming the university is out of town or state.

7. Understanding and making a spread sheet of monthly costs before making a commitment helps the applicant include more factors into the decision-making process.

This can be done at any point before accepting entrance into a graduate program. Be knowledgeable. Getting the information needed takes time and patience, but it is worth having it all together in order to apply for schools faster down the road.

8. Target one aspect of resource collecting at a time. To begin, get the personal information needed—transcripts, scores for tests—first, then moving on to the work load of making a resume or CV. Having a current resume and CV that the student can make quick edits to and use for multiple applications is handy. Finally, move on to approaching recommendation candidates: email and schedule time with them to sit down and talk about the recommendation letter.

9. Try not to stress over the process of applying. It is a tough challenge, but the beauty is that nine times out of ten the student who is applying for graduate school is better and more capable than that same student when applying for college.

Stress and Anxiety are separate dilemmas— but can easily become a hand-in-hand experience if neither are managed. Make sure that while working toward applying, you take plenty of breaks.

10. Always be gracious but remain determined if an application is denied. Being gracious towards yourself is a must. For more information regarding graduate school at Cameron, contact Cameron University’s Graduate Admissions Counselor Kaley Patterson.

Congratulations to the Cameron University students graduating this May, and congratulations for those who have worked so hard this semester of spring 2019. If you are looking into graduate school, best wishes for the future.

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