You're thinking about going to graduate school. Navigating the process can seem really overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. The first thing you need to do is ask yourself why. Graduate school will be mentally challenging and may be a significant time commitment.
It's important to think through some reasons to the good reasons to go to Graduate School and the reasons not to.
Good reasons to go to grad school:
"Here is the only good reason to go to grad school. I am intellectually curious about a particular academic topic; I enjoy reading, thinking, writing, and researching about this topic and my motivation for studying this topic comes entirely from within. I understand that in order to gain further expertise in my chosen topic, I need to pursue a post-graduate degree. I hope to use this degree in order to land a job in an academic or applied environment that takes advantage of my expertise."
(Adapted from Dr. Richard Lawler's "So You Want to Go to Grad School")
Less than favorable reasons to go to grad school:
When deciding, talk to people who have gone to grad school. Ask your professors, get their opinions, and ask them to share what their experience was like. Ask a lot of people -- not all graduate schools are the same and some programs (even in the same field) vary greatly. Talk to current graduate students -- find out what they like and what they struggle with. There are a lot of perspectives and a lot of different experiences. Ask questions, talk with people, and use their insight to help navigate your decision.
For some professions, graduate school or an advanced degree is required. Counseling, law, teaching college, and medicine are all careers in which you must go beyond an undergraduate education. If you are unsure of what career you want, delay going to graduate school. It is too much time, stress, and money if you are unsure of what you want to do. But if you know, and you're ready, then keep going!
You’ve made the decision that graduate school may be right for you. That means that now is the time to start thinking ahead and get prepared for the application process. You’ll see below that there is so much that you can do to prepare and it may seem overwhelming. It doesn’t need to be. This gives you an idea of where you may want to be when beginning the application process. It also lets you know about things you could be working on to be a stellar applicant.
When looking through this timeline, you’ll see that it begins early in the college career. If you are past your first, second, or even third year, this list is still useful to you. Look at the whole list, go back and see what you can check off by adding to your resume or CV, or see what else you want to add. Remember, we are here to help you through this process. You can set an appointment to discuss the application process by emailing: email@example.com.
Academics, talking with professors, building your network :
Things to remember:
First, congratulations! You have made it halfway through your undergraduate career. Junior and senior year come with new challenges, both exciting and overwhelming. Now is the time to really get focused on academia by keeping your GPA high, beginning research projects with professors, and being serious about your major and your future.
Now it is time to get serious. If you are going to apply, most applications will be due between December 1 and February 15. This means that you will need to have everything complete and ready to go during fall quarter. Good thing you have prepped! If not, that’s okay. You still have time to compile your resources and get applications turned in.
And now, you can relax. Your applications are complete and now it's time to wait! Keep your GPA high and continue talking with faculty and networking on campus. You still need to finish this year strong. Continue looking to find out more about choosing a school, funding, and more.