So You Want to Go to Graduate School? 3 tips for Navigating the Process

Posted on January 19, 2017

This is a guest blog post written by Valencia Seuell, a recent graduate from the University of Missouri Columbia. 

The tassels are turned and your undergraduate experience is officially over! Congratulations are in order, but the number one question everyone has for you is, “What’s next?” For many the answer to that question is graduate school. Applying to a graduate program is a really big step towards the future and the process can sometimes become overwhelming. Here are three tips to help you navigate your graduate school process with ease.

  • Investigate Each Institution- Choosing the perfect graduate program for your individual needs is so important and requires some serious research and investigation. It’s important to look beyond the Internet when gathering information on your programs. Try reaching out to each of the schools you’re interested in to schedule a campus visit. During these visits, be sure to meet with not only administration but also current students as they would most likely have the best insight. It’s also important to know not only what they require for admission but also what they expect of actual students! You don’t want to enroll in a program and find out that it’s nothing like what you expected. Before you apply, make a list of the pros and cons of each program. This should help you decide which program is best and make it easier to understand what you hope to gain from the program.
  • Give Yourself A Reality Check- Sometimes, as eager college graduates, we are so excited to move on to the next opportunity that we forget to check in with ourselves to make sure we’re actually doing what makes us happy. Before you decide that graduate school is right for you, be sure to take some time to do some soul searching. Figure out what it is that you really want out of life and make sure that graduate school aligns with your true desires. Everyone is different and while graduate school is an amazing choice, it may not be the best choice for you! Once you’ve decided that graduate school is what you really want, be sure that you’re fully committed and ready for the journey that lies ahead.
  • Customize And Perfect Your Application- With thousands of applicants each year, programs are really looking for candidates who stand out from the crowd. When putting together your application, it’s important to go above and beyond to make sure you make the top of the list. Try incorporating specific goals of the program into your personal statement. Graduate schools are looking for candidates that can fit right into the program effortlessly. If your goals and desires perfectly align with those of the program, they’re more likely to consider you for admission. Also, make sure your application is easy to read and showcases your best attributes. This includes making sure all grammar is correct, essays are an appropriate length, and the fonts and visuals all flow. I am entering a creative field, so I formatted my resume in a creative and visually appealing way in efforts to showcase my creativity and design skills. Finally, make sure your recommendations are written by people that you trust to speak highly of you. Rushing back to your teacher who can’t remember your name may not be the best idea. Find someone who can easily speak on your accomplishments and your suitability for the program.

Graduate school is an excellent choice and I wish you all the best in your search!