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Preparing for graduate school

Is graduate school right for you?

Graduate school is a big decision. Think about your career goals and why you want to attend.

  • Do you need the degree to work in a certain field?
  • Will it increase your value in the job market?
  • Visit www.iseek.org or Career One Stop to research how additional education will impact your future career.

Experience in the job market is valuable and some companies will pay for your advanced degree after you have been employed for a certain amount of time.

photo of Andrea Boh
All of the faculty in the special education program continue to challenge and support me in becoming a more thoughtful and analytical service provider, teacher, and researcher.

Andrea Boh, Ph.D. student
special education
Department of Educational Psychology

Steps for applying to graduate school

1. Research programs

  • Research schools and programs you are interested in and visit petersons.com and/or gradschools.com to research graduate schools and programs.
  • Discuss your options with professors, friends, family, and coworkers.
  • Come in and discuss your ideas with a career counselor.

2. Take time to study

Most graduate schools require an admissions exam. The GRE is the most popular exam, but look at your application materials. Visit GRE – Graduate Record Exam for more information.

  • Give yourself enough time to study and take practice exams.
  • There are courses, books and websites designed to prepare students for graduate admission exams. Some helpful sites are the SMART Learning Commons and Test Prep Courses through the College of Continuing Education

3. Write your personal statement and resume

A personal statement and resume are a common part of the graduate school application. Don’t wait to start writing your personal statement and résumé.

Personal statements

A personal statement highlights your strengths and experiences.

Resumes

Resumes include information about your education and experiences in ways that target your intended audience.

4. Letters of recommendation

Graduate schools generally require three letters of recommendation.

  • Think carefully about who you would ask to write letters of recommendation. Consider professors, employers, and other professionals you have had positive experiences with in the past.
  • Contact potential references early to determine if they are willing to do this. Allow recommenders 4-6 weeks to complete a letter.
  • Send recommenders your résumé and personal statement so they are knowledgeable about your experiences and why you are attending graduate school.
  • Give your references all the necessary information to complete and submit your letter of reference, including a stamped, pre-addressed envelope.
  • Follow-up with graduate schools to confirm your letters were received.
  • Send thank you notes to your references.

5. Everything’s together!

  • Review your application to confirm you have included all of the required materials.
  • Have one or more people review your personal statement, application and resume.

Good luck!