How To Get Into Grad School

I’ve never really given graduate school a second thought.  As a college freshman, I thought, I’d go through my four years of schooling (which is actually five years), get an awesome job at an awesome magazine (those magazines are actually dropping like flies, and definitely don’t seem to be hiring), and live my life like Carrie Bradshaw.  I miss being a naive college freshman rather than a frantic senior who doesn’t know what to do when she graduates.

When you graduate college, it’s just like graduating high school.  When you graduate high school, you tend to go down one of two paths.  College, or a career.  Same way with college.  You choose either a career, or more schooling.  So when the time comes, what should you do?  Figure out how to get into grad school, or look for a job?

Only you can decide what’s right for you, and right for your goals in life.  If you do choose the path of trying to get into grad school, be sure that you aren’t doing it for the wrong reasons.  Don’t commit to it if you’re only doing it because you’re afraid to move on to the next chapter of your life.  Don’t do it just because you want to put it on your resume.  Of course, there are some programs that can require a lot more schooling than others, but consider applying to grad school if you’re passionate about your subject and want to further your knowledge on it.

Entrance Exams: If you do decide to pursue getting into grad school, it takes a bit more to get accepted than getting into your undergraduate program.  Many programs will require you to take an entrance exam, either the LSAT, for law school, MCAT, for medical school, GMAT, for business school, or GRE, the graduate record examination.  These tests do cost money, and are administered a few times a year.

Personal Essays: When applying to grad school, you will also have to write a personal essay or statement of purpose.  Be sure to be formal in your essay writing, and be sure not to reveal too much.  Yes, it is a personal essay, but this isn’t for your LiveJournal account.  Be professional, and leave some mystery to yourself.

Letters of Recommendation: Getting into grad school also requires a letters of recommendation. Look to professors and employers that you’ve had a professional, yet friendly relationship with to write you a recommendation letter.  You want to make sure that they write you a very positive letter, because a neutral letter will do more harm for you than good.  It will also look bad on your part if you submit letters of recommendation from someone you did not have a professional relationship with.  Do not get letters from co-workers or friends.

Timeliness: I cannot stress the importance of submitting your materials in a timely manner. Do not push it until the last minute, and DO NOT SUBMIT THEM PAST THE DEADLINE.  You worked so hard on your exam and essays, and if they’re submitted past the deadline, the chance that you’ll have done all of that for nothing outweighs the chance that the admissions officer will say, “This essay is just so great that I’m going to accept them anyway.”  They don’t mess around when it comes to deadlines.

Whether you decide that applying to grad school is right for you or not , just make sure that you do your research and you’re prepared for the life ahead of you.  Good luck!

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Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski is a senior at Eastern Michigan University, double majoring in journalism and communications. She writes for her college newspaper, mostly covering local bands and interns at 89x, a metro-Detroit radio station. She frequents the movie theater and when she has free time, she likes spend it with her friends. Carmen hopes to one day be a music journalist.

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One Response to “How To Get Into Grad School”

  • Kait Freeberg

    Kait Freeberg on January 15, 2013

    Even though I am not considering grad school, my boyfriend is and he really appreciated reading this article. He is currently studying for the GMAT and taking an online course for it. Timeliness is a key component and I think you addressed it well. Admissions staff do not mess around and learning to manage your time and get things done is so important. Thanks for this helpful info!

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