Preparing for Graduate School

If you are a junior or senior in college, you have probably started to consider whether or not you want to go to graduate school, and if so, which one. It’s never too early to start preparing for this next step so that you are in the best position possible once you start sending out applications. First and foremost, take undergrad seriously! Earning good grades, contacting professors, getting involved in clubs and organizations, and pursuing internships are all great ways to build up your profile for grad school. When it comes to classes, be diligent in your research before signing up. There will probably be a few classes outside of what is required for your bachelor’s degree that you’ll need for graduate school. If you already have an idea of where you want to go, do research on your chosen degree programs at each school to make sure you’re fulfilling all the prerequisites. Visit professors, too. You might think that office hours are a thing of the past since everyone uses email now, but going to visit one professors in your chosen career field can really help come application time. After all, you’re going to need some good connections to secure stellar recommendations! There’s a lot more to campus than just classes, though. If you sign up for clubs or organizations, apply for on-campus jobs, or visit the career center to learn about internships, you might just be surprised at how much these activities can help you! For example, if you’re majoring in environmental science and join your school’s version of the environmental club, you’ll gain valuable experience and forge connections with others who have similar interests – connections that may pay off later! On-campus jobs related to your field, such as assisting a professor with research or working in an office, can offer you experience working – and these jobs will be much harder to get once you’re out on your own. Same goes for internships – these experience-based jobs not only look great on applications to graduate school, but provide additional work experience to help prepare you for the “real world.” Keeping track of all your accomplishments – in a portfolio, on the computer, or in whatever form you like – help you remember important details of what you’ve done for your applications or interviews. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t feel ashamed about taking some time off. A gap year or two – either during your undergraduate time or in between senior year and graduate school – offers you a chance to travel, gain work experience, organize yourself for that next step, or just relax! It can be a lot to go straight from one university to the other without a break. Take the time to figure out what works for you.

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