It’s never too early to start thinking about what you’d like to do after graduation. And if you’re considering a master’s program, it can help to start early. Here are three things to do this semester if you’re interested in attending graduate school.
First, spend time reflecting on your interests and career goals and how further education might help you achieve those goals. A master’s degree can be used for a variety of career paths and professions. Do some research on the different careers where you might benefit from having an advanced degree. You can use “What Can I Do With This Major?” to identify possible fields of employment with the graduate degree you are considering, and then look those jobs and fields up on O*Net. Find postings for similar positions on Handshake or LinkedIn and note whether graduate education is required, preferred or not mentioned.
Then, research both schools and individual programs that you might want to apply to. Take note of the following as you research:
Application details: Check if programs require a CV, a resume or both. There are different guidelines for each style of document and they can take time to put together.
Entrance exams: Entrance exam requirements can be very specific and may only be available at certain times or in certain locations. It is best to know in advance what you will need so that you can schedule your exams accordingly and allow time to retake exams if you need to.
Deadlines: Different types of applications have different deadlines. Applications for positions that include funding or research are often due earlier than general program applications. Some schools may require you to apply for funding or scholarships separately from their program applications.
School location: Choosing a school that is in a city or state that you’d be interested in working in after graduation can help build your network with professors and potential employers in that area.
The application process may have several components that are due at different times. Additionally, being prepared to apply early can give you a better chance of acceptance to your top schools early in the cycle. Finding a way to stay organized as you gather materials can help you manage stress and ensure you submit everything on time.
Add important dates and application deadlines to a calendar or planner. Then, break up the process into smaller tasks to help you meet deadlines and avoid procrastination. Schedule time to prepare for exams and work on your CV or resume. Block off time to ask for letters of recommendation, and share deadlines with those you ask to ensure you have the letter before your application deadline. Plan to take exams early so you can retake them if needed before the deadline. Be sure to maintain prompt communication with any school staff that you may be working with.
Understand the process
Most programs will include some sort of interview in their selection process. As you work on application materials, it can also help to brush up on your interviewing skills. Use Interview Prep to practice answering interview questions and evaluate your performance. This online mock interview tool can help you feel more confident and comfortable in future interviews.
Rejection letters are mailed before acceptance and waitlist letters. Don’t be disheartened if it feels like you haven’t heard anything for a long time after you submit your application. As you’re waiting, use this time to research financial aid options, work on building skills and practice for interviews.
As you consider your future plans, Career Services has many resources available to help every step of the way. Learn more about getting started with Career Services.