You’ve finally graduated from college. After four long years of exams, overpriced textbooks and all-night study periods, it’s over. But the question remains: should you now consider attending graduate school? Here is my advice, as someone who currently is about to finish graduate school.
- Take Time Off
You just spent four years working hard; don’t commit to graduate school without giving yourself a break first. It’s common to take a year off after graduation to travel, explore work possibilities or move back home and readjust to family life. You will have plenty of time to enter graduate school if you want to, so now is a good time to relax and recharge.
2. Ask Friends or Family About Their Experiences
Chances are you know a friend or family member who attends or attended graduate school. Ask them about their experiences or for advice on what they wished they knew as a graduate student. They might be able to give you inside tips!
3. Look at Multiple Schools
Of course, you can probably attend the school you went to as an undergraduate for graduate school. But is it the best choice? Depending on where you are after you get your bachelor’s degree, looking into more than one choice for graduate school might be a good idea. It might save you money or time commuting! Visit schools the same way you did before you entered college and ask questions.
4. Consider Your Undergrad Degree
As an undergraduate, I majored in English and minored in history. When it came time to go to graduate school, I decided to do a program in history. If you were really interested in a subject during your time as an undergraduate, consider continuing it in graduate school!
5. But Join a Degree Program You Like
As a history student, I like doing research and discussing readings from different scholars. This is what we do in history graduate programs. But this may not be for you. If you go to graduate school and join a program, make sure you’ll enjoy it!
6. Look at Program Requirements
I originally wanted to go into a teaching program for graduate students but was unable to qualify due to testing requirements. Make sure the program you’re interested in has workable requirements. They may require testing or transcripts from your undergraduate university, so check beforehand. Also, know when to change application programs. I spent close to a year trying to qualify for the aforementioned program before I decided to change and apply for one with less strict requirements.
7. Ensure Financial & Housing Security
If you lived on-campus during college, you may need to figure out a new housing situation before you start graduate school; same with finances. Graduate programs are sometimes on par financially with undergraduate programs, so make sure you have the funds to afford going before you apply.
8. Be Prepared – It’s Similar But Different from College
Graduate school is like a level-up from college. You can still pick your own schedule, attend campus events, etc., but graduate work is intense. You can be expected to read a book per week or write papers up to twenty pages, depending on your program. Many in graduate school are also working in their fields of study or handling multiple jobs, which is why classes are often not before 4 p.m. most days. So, if you choose to do graduate work, be aware it’s not the same as an undergraduate schedule.
9. Connect with Professors or Job Opportunities
Graduate professors are often experts in their fields of study or well-connected to those who are. Be on the lookout for opportunities to network or assist with research. All of these are helpful for your resumé and to give you an idea of what working in the field is like. And of course, some of your fellow students can give you similar feedback.
10. Take Your Time as a Student
Since many students are working while they’re in graduate school, many only take one or two classes a semester. If you are working as a graduate student, consider following their example. Many programs give students at least six years to complete their programs, so give yourself time to adjust to workflows and pacing!
Hopefully these tips will help you decide if graduate school is for you and will help make your experience great!
Writer: Sarah Concepcion
Editor: Julia Pack, Brooke Wolfenbarger
Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley