I have already touched a bit on what it looks like to apply for graduate school, but I wanted to make sure I included a few things that are needed in a grad school application.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores
I know a test doesn’t sound appealing when you have many other things going on while you’re trying to apply for graduate school. However, many graduate programs require that you take the GRE, which is similar to the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) that you took when transitioning from high school to college. The GRE is a standardized test, much like the SAT, that you will take to transition from undergraduate studies to graduate studies.
When you begin researching graduate programs, the required GRE scores for their program will be listed. I suggest that you get a good idea of the scores that graduate programs are requiring; keep a record of the required scores from the programs that you want to get into the most. When you find out the highest score that a program requires, aim to earn that score. I would also suggest aiming higher than the highest score that a program requires because you will impress graduate programs even more than if you had received just the minimum score. If you have any questions about the GRE, visit the Educational Testing Service’s website.
The GRE is something you need to take seriously, so do your research before studying. The amount of time it takes you to prepare for the GRE is up to you and your learning style, but you can start preparing as early as you need. A good time frame for GRE preparations is about one to four months before the test. You can certainly start preparing for it before this time frame, but one to four months gives you time to learn new concepts, refresh old concepts, and retain all the information you need for the test. Again, your preparations to take the GRE should only cater to you. By now, you should know how you study and learn best, so research different study tips and absorb what you need for yourself. I found this website that will help you with more study tips for the GRE.
If you don’t like the sound of taking a test for graduate school, you probably don’t like essays, either. Instead of thinking about essays in the negative light of “Man, I don’t want to write 500 words about myself and my accomplishments,” think of them as ways to show your personality and passion for your field. Admissions personnel for graduate programs aren’t able to read your transcripts and GRE scores and know who you are as a person. They want to read something from you to understand how you express yourself and how you will fit in with their program.
One of these admissions essays for graduate schools will probably be your personal statement. You will use your personal statement to apply for more than one graduate program, so present yourself well enough for all of the graduate programs to understand more about who you are. I will write about personal statements in later blog posts, but for now, here are a few articles that will help you get started on your own.
Depending on which types of graduate programs you apply to, you may have to go through an interview process. Interviews for graduate programs are rare, but you should be prepared to interview with someone just in case. Your main objective in these interviews is to show the person(s) you interview with who you are and why you want to study at that particular school. Remember, interviews are not just for graduate school personnel to learn about you; interviews are also for you to learn more about the graduate program and see if it’ll be a good fit for you.
Whether or not you have a required interview to be accepted into certain graduate programs, you can do a couple of other things to learn more about each graduate program. Email the person in charge of graduate admissions, and set up a time to talk with them about their program. This way, you don’t have the pressure of an in-person interview. However, if you prefer to talk to people face to face, I suggest visiting the campus for a tour and setting up a short meeting with the person in charge of graduate admissions.
I know that this was a long post, but I think that everything I brought to your attention is important for your process in looking for, applying to, and deciding on a good program for your graduate studies.