Fell: Grad school, fears and tips

- Courtesy of Flickr user Aaron Hawkins.

As senior year’s end continues to draw closer with midterms closing in, it is time to consider what one will do after graduation. Many will just take their Bachelor’s and go on to jobs and careers. Others will take on the daunting task of graduate school, like myself. Recently, I was accepted to Villanova, which in itself comes with terrifying standards. However, for those who are anxious and excited about the possibility of graduate school, this article is to help ebb some of those fears and offer advice.

The most common fear is the basic fear of finances. You just graduated from a four-year university with around $15,000-40,000 in student loans, depending on where you went. Another two years with roughly the same total in loans is terrifying and one may think they can never dig themselves out, making them question, is it worth it? Yes. The prospective salary of graduate students is well over $20,000 more per degree than those who just have a Bachelor’s. Tip: Apply to graduate assistantships! These are jobs where you provide service working for an office in the college and they either pay all of your tuition or reduce it in exchange. These are highly competitive so apply early.

Another common fear: What if I don’t get in? Aren’t grad schools super difficult to get into? While they are much harder to get into than undergraduate institutions, graduate schools are not monsters. They are willing to work with you if your GPA lingers at the 3.0 line.

Tip #1: Complete your research early to become aware of all required materials and deadlines. Request letters of recommendations sooner than later and list all the schools you will be applying to in your request, that way you won’t have to stress to get everything done during the last minute.

Tip #2: Make time to visit your top three graduate schools, some schools say that these visits show interest which will look favorable for you when they get your application. They could also lead to an occasional fee waiver, which is always nice. In my opinion, if you apply to at least three graduate schools, you are likely to get into at least one. Five is the most I recommend. I applied to three and got into two.

Tip #3: The procrastination pile up. This comes when we get caught up in our hectic work schedules and forget about important application deadlines. The trick and tip for this is the agenda/daily planner. Write down each deadline for each school you are applying to. They aren’t always the same. Some have March deadlines others are in May. Writing it down gives you a visual of when you need to plan for things.

Hopefully these tips and tricks help when it comes to getting in to graduate school. It’s a lot. However, any professor will tell you, the plunge is definitely worth it. It may not seem like it now, but there is a light at the end of that tunnel.

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