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Preparing for Graduate School

Once you have determined that graduate school is right for you, think about how to begin preparing and positioning yourself to be a competitive applicant and eventually a successful graduate student. Consider these resources as you begin your preparation:

Next, establish your graduate education goals and make yourself more marketable by obtaining experience relevant to your area of interest. This will give you the opportunity to:

  • assess your level of interest
  • identify the skills and education you need to launch your career
  • relate and apply your studies to actual work and professional settings
  • acquire new knowledge and skills
  • gain hands-on experience relevant to your area of interest
  • network with professors and employers
  • meet other undergraduate and graduate students
  • refine your graduate education and career goals

Unlike your undergraduate experience, the majority of your degree requirements in graduate school may not be predetermined, especially if you pursue a PhD. Instead, you may help define what classes you take and what research or other scholarly activities you pursue. The most successful candidates enter graduate school with a clear outcome in mind.

Use internships, cooperative education programs (often referred to as co-ops), part-time employment, and summer research programs to refine your career objectives. These experiences will help you determine:

  • if graduate school is right for you
  • what you need to accomplish in graduate school to be successful in your field

Examples of some types of programs you may wish to investigate are:

Internships

Gain valuable work experience, establish important contacts, and determine if a particular career is a good fit for you! By interacting with professionals in your field, you can determine the educational requirements for the position you want and decide if attending graduate school is your next best step. Once you know what you're working towards, it's easier to determine the best path to get there. This will make designing your course of study in graduate school easier and more effective.

Consider some of the following resources for internships:

Summer Research Programs

Work closely with faculty, graduate students, and researchers on actual projects being conducted at the host institution! These programs give you an inside look at graduate school and introduce you to the type of work you may encounter as a graduate student. Anyone considering a career in research or post-secondary academia will also gain valuable insight into the life- and work-styles of these professions.

Begin by exploring some of the following options:

In addition to the above resources, you may also wish to consult with undergraduate advising, career services, undergraduate research, and financial aid offices at your current institution for further assistance.