What Is Graduate School?
Graduate school offers the next level academic study for college graduates. Students will first earn a masters degree, and then a doctorate if they choose to continue studying.
After you have successfully completed your college degree you might decide that you want to take your studies further, whether to gain more knowledge, or enhance your skills for your future career. There are many choices out there depending on where your skills and ambitions lie.
Graduate School Admissions
Getting accepted to a graduate school is not easy. You will need to score top marks on your admission test to gain a place. People often ask what score they need to pass the test, but the answer is more complicated than just a number. There is no set pass mark. The test is competitive and it all depends on where you rank in relation to the other candidates. However, a score in the top 25 percent usually gives you a good chance of being accepted.
Since there are so many program options to apply to, there are different admissions tests. You will only write the tests that apply to the program you wish to study.
Here are some of the most popular:
The Graduate Record Examination is the most common test for admission to a graduate program. It is a broad test that examines how well you are likely to do in your future studies. It doesn’t test specialist subject knowledge, but focuses more on your thinking and reasoning skills, and your ability to express your ideas.
If you are interested in a career in business this is the one for you. The Graduate Management Admission test is required for gaining a place in a master’s program for business administration.
If you want to practice law, you will have to write the Law School Admission Test. A good score in this test is required if you wish to pursue a legal career. As with the other tests, the competition is very strong. The LSAT looks at your language and reasoning skills, as well as comprehension, as these are the skills required to become a successful lawyer.
The Medical College Admission Test is for aspiring doctors. To gain a place at medical school you will need to demonstrate not only good reasoning and thinking skills, but also a sound knowledge of scientific subjects.
When Should You Pursue Graduate School?
Graduates often ask whether they should apply for grad school right after college, or if they should take a year or two off before applying. Like so many other questions about important life choices there is no right answer; it really depends on the individual. There are pros and cons to each approach.
Some advantages of applying right away are that you might be more geared up for studying. You will have built up study routines and already have your life organized around your studies. If you take time off it might be hard to get back into a good routine. It also might take a few attempts to apply successfully.
The advantages of waiting are that you might not be 100 percent sure of what you want to study and need a little time out of school to ensure you are making the right decision. A little bit of extra maturity and life experience could help you in your chosen career, especially if you opt for something like medical or law school. Your time out of school can be well spent, especially if you manage to pick up some relevant work or voluntary experience.
In the end it’s a personal decision and may just depend on how ready you feel.
Applying to Graduate School
Look at lots of different schools before you apply. You may have your heart set on attending a particular school but be realistic and keep your options open. Check out the requirements of each one carefully. Try to find out as much about the school and the program as you can, and check their website to see if there are any upcoming open houses you can attend.
Gather all the information you need for your application well in advance. This will include transcripts from previous schools, letters of recommendation, and personal statement where you get your chance to tell them why you want to apply, and demonstrate the qualities that make you a good candidate. The key is to start preparing early. Make sure you know what the deadlines are. These will vary depending on which program or school you are applying for.
Once your application has been sent off you can use the time to prepare for interviews and tests to ensure that you have the best chance of achieving your goals.
You will also have to think about funding your studies. Look out for information about scholarships and grants on university websites. There are also searchable online databases with information about grants and scholarships you might be able to apply for.
It’s a big step to apply to graduate school. It will require a lot of time and effort to ensure that you give yourself the best chance of getting accepted, but if you do you will have a rewarding and fulfilling opportunity ahead of you.