A Short Guide to getting into Graduate School

Getting into graduate school may seem like an intimidating proposition, and you’re probably right. Advancing through a Master’s or professional program is a serious achievement, but the standards of admission are equally serious as schools have far more applicants than accepted students each year. Here are four easy tips to follow if you’re trying to get in to the graduate school of your choice:

1. Get serious about class as an undergraduate. Everyone knows that college can be a party, and there’s no partying like your undergrad days, but the serious graduate school applicant knows that their transcript will be heavily scrutinized from top to bottom. That means study hard from the beginning. Survey courses in your first semesters can show your dedication to work in classes outside your major, while higher-level courses toward the end of your career can refine your skill set in the eyes of graduate admissions departments.

2. Develop interests beyond what you cover in class. Individual graduate programs have hundreds or even thousands of applicants each year, and a savvy applicant is often the one who can craft the most memorable and impressive application. Extra-curricular activities in your field of interest can often reveal extra abilities on your part and show admissions departments your dedication to the field.

3. Study for the test. Almost every graduate and professional school requires an aptitude test for admission, and success on the test can enhance an application and often help mitigate a low GPA or few extra-curricular activities. Surprisingly, many students do not prepare themselves fully for these tests, leaving a great deal of room for an applicant to excel. Begin studying long before the test date by working on expanding your vocabulary and brushing up on high school math skills.

4. Know your options and abilities. After your fifth semester, you should be narrowing your options for fields of study and making sure that you meet any prerequisites necessary for application. Be honest in your self-assessment and apply to schools that you have thoroughly researched and fit your ability level. Put a great deal of thought and effort into a Statement of Purpose (required by many programs), and be sure that what you’re applying for is really what you would like to do.

Admission to graduate and professional programs is never a sure thing, but following these tips should help your chances, not just to get in but enjoy the time you spend in graduate school.