Your education does not have to end once you receive your undergraduate diploma. Millions of students decide to enroll in post-graduate programs after college, allowing them to hone their expertise in a particular field. Post-graduate programs can lead to better career opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. However, the process of choosing the right graduate school or program can be daunting. Here are some tips for finding the right graduate school or program for you.
1. Determine your end goal
Your first step in navigating a graduate school search is figuring out what you want from it. Why do you want to pursue a graduate school program? What field do you want to pursue? For instance, if you want to obtain a master's degree to advance your career, think about how the program, faculty and university reputation will impact your future job prospects. On the other hand, if you are looking for a Ph.D. you might consider a program with good mentorship and faculty that will help guide your dissertation process.
2. Research. Research. Research.
After you decide on your goal for pursuing a graduate degree, start your search by creating a list of schools you’d like to attend. The Princeton Review recommends taking a close look at what each program has to offer, from the course catalog to the facilities, libraries, grants and fellowships on campus. Then, create two lists: one column with programs ranked by preference, and another column ranked by how well you meet admissions requirements.
3. Find out more about the programs through networking
Sometimes it’s better to “hear it from the horse's mouth,” as the old saying goes. Reach out to faculty, alumni and recruitment staff from the graduate program you wish to attend. Tap into your school's alumni network or see if any faculty you know are familiar with that program. You can also use Handshake to find recruiters or look up department faculty contact information in the graduate school’s directory.
4. Go to the Graduate School Fair
Each year, Biola has a Graduate School Fair. This event allows students to meet with graduate school recruiters face-to-face and find out more about their programs. This year, the event is on October 3, and attendees include representatives from Azusa Pacific University, Cal State Fullerton, Loyola Marymount University, Pepperdine University, Wheaton College, USC and UCLA. You can see a full list of attending schools on Handshake.
5. Start reviewing your transcripts and studying for standardized testing
Once you have committed to exploring graduate school, your next step is to start the application process. Order an unofficial transcript at myaccount.biola.edu under “Degree Planning” and review it for accuracy. Research whether your top desired programs require any standardized tests and their scores for admission – most do. Lastly, start drafting your letter of purpose, explaining why you want to pursue graduate school in this particular field of study and how their program will help you succeed.
For additional help with any of these steps, contact the Career Center. You can also set up graduate school preparation appointments with a Career Specialist on Handshake.
For more information on finding a graduate school, check out this resource from The Princeton Review.
Austin Green is the Resume Reviewer and Writing Ambassador for the Career Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.