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Applying for Graduate School

Applying for Graduate School

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Deciding to return to school can be a tough, big decision. It can be a very difficult thing to do. It can seem even harder when you look at the application requirements. Most schools have advance deadlines, require letters of recommendation, a letter of intent, and copies of your transcript, in addition to the standardized tests and essays. It can seem like a big load—an insurmountable one at that. This article will be a guide through the forest of things to accomplish and lead you to places you can get the right information.


The first thing you need to know is that you cannot rush this process. Most graduate programs at most schools are incredibly competitive. You've got to give yourself enough lead time to make a decent product. That said, sometimes things happen that steer you towards grad school when you weren't even thinking about it: you decide to quit your job, or you get laid off. Most state, public universities do not have as tight deadlines and strict admissions as private colleges do; they're cheaper, too. And the education you get at a public-funded state university really is top notch. Do not be afraid of these institutions. They're just as good as something you'd pay four times as much for, and you'll leave with a fraction of the student debt. Additionally, depending on how much time you give yourself, if you're the impatient type, they might be your only choice.


Once you decide on a school and which semester you'll be starting (again, give yourself enough time to put together a convincing application), you can start the process. First, you'll need to fill out an application for the school. This will cover your basic information (address, GPA, etc). Then, you'll want to contact the school that awarded you your Bachelor's Degree and have them send your new school a transcript (you can ignore this step if your undergraduate and graduate schools are the same). This process is usually very straightforward and can often be accomplished on the school's website. Next, you'll want to contact anyone you'd like to write a letter of recommendation for you. This could be an influential professor, a respected colleague, or a former boss. It needs to be somebody that can comment objectively about his or her experience with you. That means you need to avoid family members.


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