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Getting into Graduate School. James n. Starmer, Director California State University, Chico Career center. Before Applying to Grad School. Research & Identify Grad Programs

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getting into graduate school

Getting into Graduate School

James n. Starmer, Director

California State University, Chico

Career center

before applying to grad school
Before Applying to Grad School

Research & Identify Grad Programs

  • Peterson’s Guides,, California colleges & universities, specific university web sites, catalogs, site visits
  • Career Center advisors and department professors
  • Request or download applications

Identify & Prepare for Required Exams

  • Testing Office – SSC 420

Gain relevant experience

Inquire about assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, and stipends

application components
Application Components
  • Application
  • Resume or CV
  • Statement of Purpose/Letter of Intent
  • Transcripts
  • Entrance Exams; GRE, LSAT, Etc. (If Required)
  • Letters of Recommendation

Spring semester of your junior year

  • Start researching what type of programs are out there
  • Start talking to the faculty and Career Center advisors
  • Start or continue to get involved in faculty research, honors programs, clubs and organizations
  • Look closely at a related internship
  • Consider taking some practice tests (GRE)
summer before your senior year
Summer before your senior year:
  • Research graduate programs in your field
  • Make a rough list of schools to which you might apply
  • Start writing your personal statement
  • Begin studying for the admittance exam (GRE) and/or take them if possible. You may choose to retake if necessary, check out
  • Take some practice tests ( , Peterson’s Guide, etc)
fall semester of your senior year
Fall semester of your senior year:
  • Research specific programs
  • Start making your final list of schools to apply
  • Continue studying for the GREs (or other exams)
  • Take the GRE ASAP (if required)
  • Start talking to professors about letters of recommendation
apply early
Apply early!
  • Complete and send your applications, then follow-up with other required paperwork. It all does not have to be submitted together
  • Deadlines may be in January, February or March depending on the school
  • If possible, visit the school, meet the faculty (Network)
statement of purpose do s
Statement of Purpose – Do’s
  • Theme, thesis = unity & direction
  • Identify & put in order what you want to discuss
  • Use concrete examples of support
  • Be sincere; write about your interests, passions
  • Grab their attention initially (quote, question, anecdote, scene description)
  • Have it critiqued by a Career Center advisor, faculty, others you trust
  • Edit & revise to make it perfect
  • Write clearly and succinctly, demonstrate excellent writing skills
statement of purpose don ts
Statement of Purpose – Don’ts
  • Don’t start your essay with “I was born in…” or “My parents came from…”
  • Don’t write an autobiography.
  • Don’t be afraid to start over if the essay just isn’t working or doesn’t answer the essay question.
  • Don’t try to impress your reader with your vocabulary.
  • Don’t rely exclusively on your computer to check your spelling.
  • Don’t give weak excuses for your GPA or test scores.
  • Don’t make things up, lie, or stretch the truth.
  • Don’t lecture to the experts (What you can gain from the program as well as what you bring is important)
ten tips for better writing
Ten Tips for Better Writing
  • Use positive language
  • Use transitions between paragraphs to tie one paragraph to the next
  • Understand the words you write; don’t write to impress, write to communicate
  • Look up synonyms when you use the same word repeatedly
  • Make every word count. Do not repeat yourself.
  • Write clearly and succinctly
helpful web sites and people
Helpful Web Sites and People

The Career Center

  • Help researching grad programs
  • Personal statement and resume reviews
tips from kaplan
Tips From Kaplan



tip 1 know the factors
Tip #1: Know the Factors

Quantitative Measures

Qualitative Measures

  • Experience
  • Who you are
  • Opportunities to communicate
  • Undergrad GPA
  • Test Scores
tip 2 manage the process
Tip #2: Manage the Process
  • Research the schools to make a case for a fit
  • Network with staff, alums, students
  • Treat your application as a long-term project
  • Don’t think being qualified will qualify you
  • Don’t go just by official requirements
  • Don’t plan to work on all elements at once
tip 3 make your experience work for you
Tip #3: Make your experience work for you
  • Highlight accomplishments on your resume
  • Draw on all your experience
  • Connect your work to your story
  • Don’t diminish your current situation
  • Don’t forget your non-work experience
  • Don’t think your experience speaks for itself
tip 4 develop your story
Tip #4: Develop your story
  • Identify your points of similarity and of difference
  • Tell people your story
  • Build yourself into your application
  • Don’t make assumptions about how you’re viewed
  • Don’t keep your story to yourself
  • Don’t omit or save any key points for later
tip 5 help your recommenders help you
Tip #5: Help your recommenders help you
  • Seek recs from people you know and trust
  • Give guidance to your recommenders
  • Manage deadlines
  • Don’t choose recommenders by credentials
  • Don’t assume your recommenders know what to say
  • Don’t think recs will arrive on time without you
that s it
That’s it.

Good luck, and let us help!