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4 Things I Learned While Applying to Grad School

Applying to grad school - whether it's the next step after graduating from undergrad, a form of professional development, or a career change - is a big decision. Here are 4 things I learned when I decided to apply to grad school.

1. It’s important to know why you want to go to grad school. This was so important when it came to finding a program and getting through the entire application process. Knowing why I wanted to go to grad school, how I thought grad school would help me achieve my long term goals, and what I hoped to learn in grad school made writing my essays and answering questions during interviews a lot less scary. Having a clear understanding of why I wanted to go to grad school also helped me narrow down which programs I wanted to apply to, which meant I spent less money on application fees.

2. Grad School is expensive. Speaking of money, I found out pretty quickly that in order to apply to grad school, I needed to be sure I could pay for it first. I had to do a lot of research on how much a program would cost me per year, how much the program typically gives in scholarships and aid, and how much I would have to take out in loans. I also looked for programs that would allow me the freedom to work and earn an income, or that had work experience embedded already.

3. Applications are expensive. This may fall under the “Grad School is expensive” category, but I thought I would create a separate category for applications because I feel like there is a “hidden cost,” to applying to grad school that you don’t often hear about. For example, grad schools often require supplemental materials such as the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), LSAT (Law School Admission Test), MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), etc., which are expensive standardized tests that grad school’s often use for admission to their programs (my GRE cost me a little over $200). Schools also tend to have application fees, which can be $50+ per school. As a college student, even one $70 application fee was a lot to cover on a part-time student worker wage along with my other expenses.

*SnJ-Tip: When it comes to application fees, I recommend asking if your program has an application fee waiver program. I was surprised by how easy it was to apply for an application fee waiver, and even more surprised when I got my application fee waived. In my opinion, it can’t hurt to apply, and if you’re approved, it could definitely help offset some of the costs of applying to grad school!

4. Having experience in your field is important. Lastly, I learned that it is super important to have experience in your field. In my experience, every time I went on an interview, I was asked about my previous experiences and the transferable skills that I learned from each. I found my interviewers responding the most when I had clear examples of how I handled certain situations in the past. I also felt a lot more confident writing essays and answering interview questions when I could think of an exact time that I made use of a skill in the past. Having good work, volunteer, and class experiences in my field that I felt comfortable talking about were great assets to me in the grad school application process. Follow


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