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Applying to Graduate School

Graduate and professional schools offer an opportunity for you to undertake advanced study in areas of interest and/or to accomplish a career goal.
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There are some professions that require an advanced degree such as law, medicine, and postsecondary teaching. However, if you are uncertain as to your career goal, careful thought and consideration should be given before applying to a program. Making an informed decision about pursuing a graduate or professional degree requires an in-depth self-analysis, research of schools, and development of a plan. It is recommended that the planning and preparation begin approximately 18 months before expected entrance. This would include the self-analysis, the research of graduate programs, and a plan of action.

Why Go To Graduate or Professional School?

There are many reasons why an individual will decide to attend graduate or professional school. This personal decision may include reasons such as: Requirement for entry into the field (e.g. law, medicine, speech therapy) Professional growth Career change Personal growth, fulfillment Increase in income Postponement of career decision or job search The job market Your decision should be based on your own personal situation and long-term goals. A decision should not be made in haste. Careful reflection on your reasons for pursuing an advanced degree will help to ensure a sound decision.

Factors to Consider

The process of deciding whether and when to pursue an advanced degree involves conducting a personal evaluation. It is imperative that you conduct an honest assessment of factors that can and will influence your decision. These factors may include, but are not limited to:

• Personality
• Skills/talents
• Interests
• Self-discipline
• Motivation
• Persistence
• Tenacity
• Career path
• Intellect
• Others who will be affected by your decision (such as family, significant other)
• Support system (such as family, friends, mentor)

A personal assessment will help in clarifying your career goals and directing you to a graduate program that will be a good match. In addition, your self-assessment will be valuable during the application process, in particular when writing your personal statement and in the event a personal interview is part of the application process.
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