Since a PhD can be a lot of fun (you’ll be able to do exciting research and learn new things) and open many doors, here are a few very helpful tips for getting into grad school that you should consider. Keep in mind that it is not for everyone since sometimes work can be boring (you have to read a lot, publish papers, take classes), it’s very unstructured, you have lots of competition and it does not guarantee a better job or salary. Getting into grad school can be a pretty overwhelming process since there is a lot of work that you’ll need to do to get in. Putting together a good application process is the product of years of careful planning and hard work. Here are a few very helpful tips for getting into grad school that you should consider:
1. Know Why You Are Applying to Grad School
One of the most important tips for getting into grad school is to try to spend some time thinking about exactly why you are applying. This may include your desire for that academic challenge, your passion for that field but also how you hope to benefit from that degree in the long term. What are your professional and personal goals? What are your professional and academic strengths and weaknesses?
2. Start as Early as Possible
Just try to start your grad school application process as early as possible because completing all the requirements for such an application can take a considerable amount of time. You may need to write a personal statement or an application essay, submit your results from grad school exams (such as the GRE) and provide official transcripts and references.
3. Get a Strong Recommendation
If you are an undergrad student and you plan to apply to grad school immediately after graduation, make sure to develop relationships with your professors so you’ll be able to ask them to write a compelling letter of recommendation for you. Also, former professors may still work if you keep in touch.
4. Research Graduate Schools
Before applying to a specific grad school, do your research and find out more about their specific programs, their professors and the unique qualities of a target program so you’ll know if you and that program are well-matched. Visit schools and try to make meaningful connections in those programs. Just get some firsthand grad school advice from other students, admission staff and advisors.
5. Get Your Personal Statement Right
A personal statement is your chance to stand out from the crowd and capture the admission officer's attention. Try to show that you’ve spent time researching the department and the course you’re applying to, show them how your own goals, abilities and experience will benefit the program and how you’ll thrive within this particular learning environment.
6. Nail the Exam
Prepare well for your admission test and nail the exam. Make sure that your smarts manifest as they should on your application because for some grad schools, GRE scores are the primary determinants of grants. If you obtain a high score on the test, you could go to grad school for free.
7. Look for Funding
If you plan to get into grad school, then you should research funding options that might be available through non-profit organizations, through government or even through current or future employers. Ask about part-time work in and around campus and about the opportunities to apply for funding within the department because there may be funding opportunities that aren’t advertised on websites.
There are a lot of things you need to keep in mind if you plan to apply to grad school. I just mentioned a few in this little article but I’m sure that there are many more I could add to this list. Do you know any other helpful tips for getting into grad school? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!