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How to Prepare for Graduate School

It feels surreal to be in the home stretch of my undergraduate career. Throughout college I participated in clubs that made a meaningful impact on me, changed my major, joined a lab on campus that immensely improved my basic skills, and am currently halfway done with writing my thesis. 

Through hard work and intense determination, my journey finally brought me to the decision to apply for a graduate program. Applying for graduate school is a different experience for everyone, and it took many conversations with advisors, mentors, family members, and friends, as well as personal introspection to come to the decision to apply. In order to further work toward my career goal to be a Forensic Psychologist, I decided to continue my schooling to equip myself with the best possible skills needed to exceed in this field. 

For those who are considering applying to graduate school, these are the tools that helped me organize myself in the best possible way to avoid too much stress and plan for success.

Express your goals and ideas to someone you trust at your University

Your professors and advisors are truly one of the best resources available if you’re considering applying to graduate programs. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into a master’s program or a PhD program. A few trusted professors were able to help me decipher what my ultimate career goal is and with their experience and knowledge lead me to the conclusion that a master’s program is the best fit. Utilize your network!

Compile a list of graduate programs that fit your needs

After deciding on a type of degree (master’s vs. PhD), make an initial list of potential programs by completing a simple Google search and reading through program details. This is a simple first step in the decision process, and it’ll help you get an idea of the options available.

Decide on a way to organize these programs

After you’ve done some initial groundwork, you’ll want to organize your top choices in a way that makes sense for your goals. I created a spreadsheet including the university, type of program (in person or online), application due date, and required application materials (e.g., letters of recommendation, personal statement, supplemental essays, test scores, etc.).

Lay out a plan to meet these requirements

Once you know exactly what is needed and when various requirements are due, you can begin to prioritize certain applications and materials. Be sure to provide ample time to request letters of recommendation, write your essays, and submit your materials.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed

You can only do your best. Take the applications one step at a time; from my experience, programs have a wide variety of due dates. You’ll get everything done as long as you stay organized and stick to your plan of action. 

If graduate school is the next step in your life plan, I hope you find these tips useful in your journey. Good luck!

Hello! I am one of the Her Campus DU Campus Correspondents! I am majoring in Psychology with minors in Chemistry and Criminology with the hopes of becoming a Forensic Psychologist someday! I joined Her Campus to be able to get my voice out there, as writing is one of my utmost passions. Some of my favorite things include Jesus, my family, and learning new things.
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