Lydia Marcus- Staff Writer
Some of us just can’t get enough school—17 years’ worth simply isn’t sufficient. For those who crave more education, enrolling in a graduate school is often the next step.
The experience has been likened to taking on the initial freshman college search, part two, except that this time, you’re actually an adult. Adulthood means that you have to consider things such as the cost of living near your desired institution and the jobs available in the area (and the jobs available through your institution). You also must decide what kind of program you’re looking for: master’s degree? doctorate? certificate? a combination of the three?
With so many choices, the search becomes overwhelming fast. Even if you won’t be applying to graduate school until next fall or the following fall, it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about grad schools in advance.
Here’s advice from seniors who are familiar with the process of applying to graduate schools:
“Most professions have associations to get involved with, so look into yours and see what they say,” said Kylie Van Roekel, who applied to occupational therapy programs. She used the list of accredited schools provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association to discover programs and find each school’s list of prerequisite classes.
“I narrowed down my options by the cost of the school and cost of living in different areas of the country,” Van Roekel also said. “I’ve been told to not look at the price tag of graduate schools, but it is something that cannot be ignored. If you go to state school in the state you live in, your tuition will be cheaper. If you live at home, you will save a couple bucks there as well.”
Finally, Van Roekel advises against procrastinating on beginning applications. “There are always obstacles and roadblocks that you may encounter,” she said. “Pay attention to deadlines because they come up quickly, especially as a busy college student trying to balance all other areas of life.”
Rebekah De Penning, who is currently applying for engineering graduate programs, advises looking for opportunities to do research at your graduate institution. “Look at the list of faculty in your intended program, and find ones whose research you think sounds interesting. If you contact the faculty saying you’re interested, they may be interested in having you research for them. If they can get you a research position, you’ll get some funding.” Funding is a helpful factor to consider when choosing a school.
Shannon Vander Berg, who was recently accepted into medical school, said that she found the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) very helpful as she researched the prerequisites for each program. “It’s important to start looking at it early so that you’re certain you’re meeting all the requirements for schools you might be interested in,” Vander Berg said. “The MSAR also has data on the schools which helps you determine what might be a good fit.”
Vander Berg provides a final word of advice for graduate school applicants: “Apply as broadly as you can, and don’t be afraid to throw your application out there. You never know what doors might open up!”