Preparing for graduate school can be an exciting yet stressful time in your life. It can be quite a challenge to juggle jobs, family, or other responsibilities while continuing your education. At times, things can seem a bit overwhelming. Here are some helpful tips to help ease the transition into becoming a graduate student.
- Maintaining good grades. Keep up your undergraduate grade point average. In order to apply to graduate school, many universities have a minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement. Requirements vary from program to program, but most GPA requirements range from a 2.5 to a 3.0.
- Choose a program. Compare the pros and cons to different academic programs or areas of study. There are many different things to consider when choosing a program. Look at the career options each program offers. Make sure you have or will be satisfying the undergraduate degree requirements. For example, some graduate degree programs require applicants to hold a specific undergraduate degree. Consider the length of time required to complete the program. Ask yourself, "Is it an academic area that I am passionate about?" Find out if classes are offered online or on campus, and decide what setting best suits your needs.
- Prepare your application. Most graduate schools require students to apply to their programs. Not only will students have to submit a basic application, but the college may require other documentation as well, such as official transcripts or test scores. Check your program of interest to see if you are required to take any assessments beforehand. Different programs require different assessments, such as GRE or GMAT. Also, start obtaining your official transcripts from all undergraduate schools that you attended. Some schools charge a small fee and may take a few days to process transcript requests.
- Apply for financial aid. Check with the college's financial aid office and obtain a FAFSA form. The FAFSA form allows you to apply for financial aid, such as loans (which have to be repaid). The form only has to be completed once a year, and you will need a copy of your tax information from the prior year in order to complete the FAFSA. Ask about other financial aid that you may qualify for, such as grants (which do not have to be repaid), scholarships, or work-study jobs.
- Keep good study habits. Study daily. Once you are accepted into graduate school, the assignments, projects, and exams can pile up quickly. Try to review notes everyday and avoid cramming the night before a test or assignment is due. Pace yourself and keep up with your schoolwork. It will make for a lot less headache later.
Graduate school can be one of the most challenging yet most rewarding things you will ever do in your life. Stay prepared and stay focused and get the most out of your graduate experience.