start worrying now. Assuming you’ve determined that a post-graduate education is in your best interest, cost vs. gain wise, the planning for graduate school should begin a year before you plan to attend. It can be a challenging process for many reasons and one that should be carefully considered and researched. Here are some steps that should make the process a bit more manageable:
1. Plan Early
Some graduate programs require that a set of requisite courses be completed prior to attendance. It’s important to know whether or not the schools/programs of study that you are interested in fall into this category. WIth a flexible program like BGS, these requisites might be able to be folded into your existing education plan without disrupting either your graduation from Western or your acceptance to Grad School.
2. Research Graduate Programs
Determine which graduate programs will fit your life and your goals. Some of the variables that should be researched include: cost, faculty, flexibility, location, competitiveness, strength of the program, availability of funding (Graduate Assistantships/Teaching Assistantships), Graduate Admission Exam Requirements.
3. The GRE et. al.
The most common graduate admission exam is the GRE (Graduate Record Examination); however, there are other exams that may apply (medical students take the MCAT, for example). These graduate admission exams are similar to the ACT and SAT. If your potential programs require one of these exams, you should start studying now and register for the exam far enough in advance that you could take the test again prior to turning in your applications, if necessary.
4. Pick a School or Two or Four
Determine which programs you might be interested in attending (usually between 2 and 4) and review the admissions requirements. Pay close attention to things like Letters of Recommendation, Personal Statements, Essays, GPA requirements, and acceptance rate (how many applicants they receive compared to how many students they accept). This may help you to determine if the school is a good fit for you. Application fees are, of course, a determining factor when deciding which schools and how many schools you ultimately apply to.
In the end, preparing for graduate school now will broaden your options later. Post-Graduate educations are not funded by federal grants, but you may be able to receive federal loans. Sometimes, Graduate programs themselves can offer a small amount of support, but those are usually awarded early, so timeliness can certainly make a difference.
When in doubt, ask: WIU Career Services is there to help.
We Wish You Luck!