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Graduate School 101: Preparing for Graduate School Michelle Carter Director, McNair Scholars Program 10 Steps for Successful Graduate Admissions Step One: Evaluate yourself Step Two: Understand graduate education and admission Step Three: Explore the many program options.

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Graduate School 101: Preparing for Graduate School

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Graduate school 101 preparing for graduate school l.jpg

Graduate School 101:Preparing for Graduate School

Michelle Carter

Director, McNair Scholars Program


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10 Steps for Successful Graduate Admissions

  • Step One: Evaluate yourself

  • Step Two: Understand graduate education and admission

  • Step Three: Explore the many program options.

  • Step Four: Utilize your connections

  • Step Five: Prepare for Graduate School Tests


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Steps 6-10

  • Step Six: Write Strong Personal Statements

  • Step Seven: Make your nonacademic experience meaningful

  • Step Eight: Market your strengths

  • Step Nine: Examine the Many Ways to Finance Graduate Education

  • Step Ten: Complete the Admissions Process.


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Step 1: Evaluate Yourself

  • Undergraduate Major

  • Overall GPA

  • GPA in Major

  • Field of Graduate Interest

  • Work experience related to your field of graduate interest

  • Volunteer experience related to your field of graduate interest

  • Research experience


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Evaluate Yourself cont’d

  • Examine your academic experience in light of the expectations of particular graduate programs

  • Discuss your graduate school “marketability” with your professors in your field.


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Step 2: Understand Graduate Education and Admission


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Academic Graduate Programs vs. Professional Graduate Programs

  • The ultimate purpose of an academic graduate program is the discovery of new knowledge and ways of thinking about an issue.

  • A professional school has a more focused goal of preparing future professionals to excel in their careers by exposing them to theoretical models and applied knowledge and skills.


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Study Programs Carefully

  • Compare programs.

  • Find out how prospective programs use standardized tests in the admissions process.

  • Apply only to those programs that are compatible with your interests and capabilities

  • Apply to “dream” programs and “safe” programs.


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Resources to research graduate programs

  • http://www.petersons.com/GradChannel

  • http://www.gradschools.com

  • http://www.gradprofiles.com

  • http://www.gradsource.com

  • http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/rankindex_brief.php


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Things to consider when researching graduate schools

  • The university’s reputation

  • The program’s reputation

  • The program’s rank

  • Compatibility of program to my interests

  • Accreditation of the program


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Things to consider when researching graduate schools

  • Geographic Location

  • Faculty research interests

  • Satisfaction of graduate program’s current students

  • Financial aid available

  • Cost of living


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Things to consider when researching graduate schools

  • Job placement rates

  • Average length of time for a student to finish the graduate program

  • Resources (ex. Library collections, Research Centers, Ethnic Culture Centers)

  • My spouse/mate/family’s approval

  • Social opportunities

  • Cultural diversity of the location

  • Cultural diversity of the university/program


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Things to consider when researching graduate schools

  • My spouse/mate/family’s approval

  • Social opportunities

  • Cultural diversity of the location

  • Cultural diversity of the university/program


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Step 3: Explore the Many Program Options

  • Explore beyond the handful of top graduate programs you have heard of.

  • When available, get the profiles of the most recent entering classes in programs you are considering and compare them with your credentials.

  • Contact current graduate students to find out about their experience with the department, faculty, staff and the university as a whole.


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Step 4: Utilize Your Connections


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Utilize Your Connections

  • Your professors and mentors can serve as valuable contacts.

  • Attending professional conferences will enable you to meet people with similar interests. They may also be able to give you a heads-up on various graduate programs.


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Connections cont’d

  • Academic Contacts

  • Professional Contacts

  • Faculty in my field that I’ve contacted

  • Professional association membership

  • Journals/field literature I’ve been reading


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Step 5: Prepare for Graduate School Tests


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Most Common Standardized Tests

  • General Record Examinations (GRE) General and Subject Tests (http://www.gre.org)

  • Miller Analogies Test (MAT)


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Standardized Tests

  • Graduate Schools/Programs use standardized test scores differently.

  • Some programs don’t even require a standardized test score.

  • Some programs factor your score into a matrix or equation for admission.


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Components of the GRE

  • Analytical Writing: Issue Task (45 minutes)

  • Analytical Writing: Argument (30 minutes)

  • Verbal: 30 questions (30 minutes)

  • Quantitative: 28 questions (45 minutes)


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GRE Scoring

  • Verbal reasoning: reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments

  • Quantitative reasoning: reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments

  • Analytical writing: reported on a 0-6 score scale, in half-point increments


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Applying to take the GRE

  • http://www.gre.org

  • Fee: $115

  • Fee Waivers for financially eligible seniors are available through your financial aid office.

  • The McNair Scholars Program offers waivers to its students.


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Step 6: Write Strong Personal Statements

  • Essays for Graduate School Differ from College Admissions Essays

  • Graduate School Admissions Committees are looking for “fit” or “compatibility.”


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Sample Personal Statement Format

  • Introductory Paragraph: Express your creativity. Draw the reader in with a personal experience that illustrates why you are interested in graduate studies in your field of interest

  • Academic/Professional Preparation: Discuss research experience, relevant job experience, job shadowing, relevant volunteer experience, McNair experience


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Sample Personal Statement Format cont’d

  • Illustrate your fit with their program. Why are you applying to their program? Discuss compatibility of faculty interests.

  • Strong Conclusion. Tie in the narrative from your introduction. Explain why you will be an asset to their program. Write about your career goals and how the program will help you fulfill them.


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Revise!Proofread!


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Step 7: Make your non-academic experience meaningful

  • Recognize the value of your relevant work experience.

  • Write about your relevant experiences persuasively.

  • An impressive resume or C.V. can make a difference.


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Step 8: Market Your Strengths

  • Don’t be overly modest.

  • Try to avoid exaggeration.

  • Highlight what makes you different.

  • Identify your strengths and call attention to them.


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Step 9: Examine the many ways to finance graduate education


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FAFSA

  • File your Free Application for Federal Student Aid form in a timely manner.

  • http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/


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Categories of Funding


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Grants, Fellowships and Scholarships

  • These are outright contributions from government programs, educational institutions, foundations, corporations and other private sources.


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Education-related Salaries

  • Teaching Assistantships

  • Graduate Assistantships

  • Research Assistantships

  • College Work-study programs

  • Salaries for jobs in the community, unrelated to the graduate school you attend


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Loans

  • They may come from government, institutional, or private sources.

  • You may have to pay interest while you are enrolled or interest may be deferred.


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Step 10: Complete the Admissions Process


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  • Request your transcripts in a timely fashion.

  • Request letters of recommendation from professors. Provide professors with a resume or C.V. and summary of your research interests.

  • Fill out all parts of the application.

  • Proofread your statement of purpose.

  • Remember that the application is YOU!


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Apply to the McNair Scholars Program

Priority Deadline:

November 14, 2005


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Benefits of the McNair Scholars Program

  • $2400 for 6 weeks of summer research under a faculty mentor

  • $700 for research supplies

  • Campus housing and meal assistance during summer research program

  • Funds for campus visitations and conferences

  • GRE Fee Waivers


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Benefits of the McNair Scholars Program

  • Assistance with the application process for graduate admission

  • Counseling, advising, and tutoring

  • Workshops and seminars


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THANK YOU!


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