First off, it is incredible that you are considering to apply to graduate school! Many people would not even consider, or have the opportunity, to apply for a higher education degree. Take pride in your interest and capability.
Now, where do you start? What should you be doing in preparation? As a current graduate student, I have had these questions and concerns. I have a few tips on applying to graduate school that will hopefully be helpful and give you a foundation on how to start your search:
Where should I apply?
- Think about where you are willing to go for your graduate degree. For me, I looked into my state first for graduate programs in my field of interest and then began to search for graduate programs out of state that were still close in approximation. To me, it was important that I stay remotely close to my friends and family. You may feel comfortable moving away from your current location; if so, this search could take a while. Pick a state you would like to move to and start looking at their graduate programs they offer in your field of interest.
- After researching programs in and out of state where you are willing to go to, make a list of each program on a separate piece of paper. For example, I would turn to a blank sheet of paper and write "Eastern New Mexico University," I would then turn to another blank sheet of paper and write the next university of interest, and so on. This gives you a visual reference of your selected schools. At this point, I had about eight schools on my list (eight separate pieces of paper).
I've chosen some schools I'm interested in, now what?
- Go to each program website of the schools you have chosen. Write out their application deadline and other application information such as letters of reference, essay question information, test scores needed to be considered (GRE, GMAT or other standard exam scores).
Some of these programs have too many prerequisites, or I am not eligible for them. What do I do?
- This might be a good time to start eliminating choices. At this point, I saw requirements I did not think that I met or wasn't willing to meet, so I eliminated about two or three schools.
I have my schools I want to apply to, and I have the information about the applications. Now what?
- Start working on your applications. I started with the essay questions. Some universities require you to write a short essay to access your writing skills. I wrote the essays first so that I could get the most time-consuming portion out of the way.
- While working on your essay questions (if applicable), start sending your transcripts to the programs you selected. Transcripts can often take much longer for schools to receive because they are manually mailed by people at the university where you took classes. Make sure you send ALL transcripts from all schools where you have taken college classes.
I have finished all of the applications for all the schools I am interested in. Am I finished?
- Now you wait. And wait. Some programs take forever (it feels) to get back to you regarding your status. I found that thegradcafe.com was a blessing and a curse. If you have a hard time patiently waiting (like me), I would recommend taking a look at this website. It shows acceptances and rejections from universities for almost all fields and gives statistics of students applying.
Making decisions about where to apply to graduate school can be challenging. Look up the statistics on the program (it is listed on most university websites) and make sure you are putting your education and money into a place that will set you up for a successful future.
For information on ENMU's graduate programs.