Remember the fun of filling out college applications, writing cheesy essays, and gathering good recommendations? If you thought that was over with when you got into your undergraduate college, it may not be – if you’re planning on going to graduate school, med school, or law school.
If you are still a first or second year college student you have much more time to prepare yourself for the process of applying to graduate schools than does a student further into their college education that hadn’t really thought about it before. In either case, here are some guidelines to follow:
- Find several schools that offer your desired program of study, and compare them. Compare the costs, time required, qualifications, etc.
- Apply to more than one school. Just like when you were applying to undergraduate college, you’ll want to have at least one backup school in case your first choice doesn’t come through.
- Write one or two good essays that you can reuse to apply to multiple schools. Often times the essay topics are general enough where you can use the same essay more than once by tweaking just a few small things. This allows you to spend extra time writing a stellar essay, instead of rushing through writing a bunch of them.
- Take note of the deadlines each college has. Some come much earlier than others, and others may only allow you to apply for entrance for certain semesters only – such as only fall or summer. Others might have rolling admissions, allowing you to begin any semester, and then another group might only allow fall admissions.
- Find out what kind of entrance exam you will need to take, and what minimum score you’ll need. If you’re trying to get into medical school, you’ll need to take the MCAT exam. For law school, you’ll need the LSAT. Other graduate schools may require either the GRE or the GMAT. If you are an international student that speaks English as a second language, you may also need to take the TOEFL exam. Once you know which one you have to take, make sure you schedule to take the exam well enough in advance. Often times you can take it a few times to try to get a better score. If you wait til the last minute, you may not have the opportunity to retest in time. You can also try going to your local library and checking out some books about the tests. They usually include practice tests that will help you to prepare for the actual test.
- Find out the admissions requirements. Most graduate level programs require a 3.0 or higher G.P.A. Some allow a 2.75 or higher if other conditions are met. If you have a G.P.A. much lower than either of those, you’re chances of getting in are much lower, especially in a competitive program.
If you’re a in your early undergrad years, make sure that keep your G.P.A. up. This will be important when you apply to grad school. You’ll also want to try to get involved in student organizations that are related to the field you’d like to be involved in. For those of you interested in receiving a master in nursing online programs like Loyno are available. If you are hoping to apply for medical school, you’ll need to check very early on what each school requires. Med schools often have very strict course requirements, such as certain math and science courses.
Well-rounded students, with good grades and a variety of interests and attributes often fare pretty well. But you’ll also want to keep in mind that some programs are extremely competitive, with only the cream of the crop getting accepted. Other schools aren’t so picky. You may also have a better shot at getting into a graduate program offered by the same school you got your undergraduate degree from. This is because they already have you in the system, and are more familiar with you and your potential for success in a graduate program. So make sure you keep your options open by applying to a variety of programs. Sure, you’ll be paying out a good chunk of change in application fees, but when you get your acceptance letters it will be worth it. Good luck!!