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Is Graduate School for You?

Deciding whether to attend graduate school is a decision that requires some careful thought and is one that should not be taken lightly. Graduate school differs from your undergraduate education in that it involves specialized study of one specific area. 

There are several questions that you should ask yourself to assist you in this decision:

  • What are my reasons for attending graduate school?
  • Am I delaying my job search?
  • Do I enjoy research projects, writing and presenting material?
  • Do I know what career opportunities are available at the graduate level?
  • Do I have the personal qualities and skills that are needed to be successful in graduate school?
  • Do I want to go to school full-time or part-time?

Factors to Consider

The following factors are those to be considered as you select a school and/or program:

  • Location
  • Reputation
  • Cost (financial aid)
  • Competition for admission size
  • Faculty availability (academic advice)
  • Areas of specialization
  • Resources
  • Affiliation (public, private, religious)
  • Job statistics for their graduates
  • Skills emphasized in program

Guide to Graduate School



Timeline:

Junior Year/Summer

  • Start researching graduate programs
  • Check websites or write to schools to request catalogs
  •  Determine test requirements, application deadlines, test dates, etc.
  • Meet with faculty members and Career Services to discuss programs.
  • Sign up for required standardized tests. Take practice tests.

September/October

  • Take standardized tests
  • Write draft of statement of purpose and have it critiqued by a faculty or staff member
  • Research financial aid sources, fellowships, and assistantships
  • Request recommendations from faculty members

November/December

  • Order official transcripts from the Registrar's Office
  • Finalize statement of purpose according to the questions asked on the application.
  • Mail applications. Even if deadlines are later, it is good to get applications in early.
  • Apply for fellowships, grants, and assistantships.

January/February/March

  • Contact schools about the possibility of visiting and scheduling an interview.
  • Fill out the GAPSAF form. If you are applying for need-based financial aid, you may have to file a copy of your federal income tax returns.

April

  • Discuss acceptances, rejections, and other career options with Career Services staff or a faculty member.
  • If you would like to defer enrollment for one or two years, contact your Graduate department concerning that possibility. If you are rejected, it may be helpful to contact the school and discuss the reasons for your rejection and obtain suggestions on what action you can take to get admitted in the future. 

Graduate School Fair and Campus Visits

  • Graduate School Fair: Fall Semester
  • Campus Visits from Grad School Admissions Representatives to be announced periodically through Student Announcements.

Contact Career Services at (413) 662-5332 for more information or come by CSSE/Career Services, Eldridge Hall, top level, to schedule an individual appointment.