Graduate School: Is it right for you? Graduate Record ExamHow to Get Admitted to Graduate SchoolIndex of Specialize Graduate ProgramsIn your last year before graduation...
In most disciplines a bachelor's degree indicates that you have acquired many basic skills and met general collegiate standards. The BA degree opens the door to many entry level white-collar occupations.You may then, for example, be employed as a social case worker. In this occupation you may determine eligibility for assistance or administer welfare benefits to those who are eligible. You would not be qualified to do counseling or professional activities commonly associated with social work. That requires a graduate degree like the Master of Social Work (M.S.W.).Whether you intend to become a professional social worker, an applied social scientist or a teacher at the post-secondary level, you will need graduate training. A suitable graduate degree is your key to professional occupations. You might begin this undertaking by getting Robert L. Peters (1992) Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning a Masters's or a Ph.D
Your admission to graduate school will be determined in large part by a good undergraduate record. This is indicated by good grades, high GRE scores and strong letters of recommendation. Those who review your application to their graduate program will likely consider as signs of your commitment to sociology membership in the American Sociological Association
. The ASA offers a special student membership rate of $34 (call 202-833-3410, ext 318). You may also want to be active in regional associations like the Southern Sociological Society
, and honorary societies like Alpha Kappa Delta. If you feel you have any chance for a teaching or research fellowship, you should apply to the Furman Advantage program. A few days' work infilling out the applications may repay your efforts with tens of thousands of dollars in assistance. If you are fortunate enough to be awarded a fellowship you will, also, work closely with one or more of the faculty.The benefits that grow out of these relationships may prove to be even more important than the financial value of the fellowship.
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Graduate Record Exam
Majors are encouraged to take both the general and sociology sections of the GRE before graduation. If you expect to continue on to graduate school you are advised to take the exam during the spring term of your junior year and again in the fall term of your senior year. You may want to look at TestPreparation
(of Stanford Testing) for practice tests for experiences with the ACT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT.Back to top
How to Get Admitted to Graduate School
Prior to your last year at Furman you should start checking out graduate programs. Your first step should be to browse through the Guide to Graduate Departments of Sociology
, Washington, D.C.:American Sociological Association, 1996. This reference book is available in the sociology office. It will assist you in matching your interests, financial needs, geographical requirements, etc., with the correct set of graduate programs most likely to fill your needs. The department has in room FH-214 a modest collection of catalogs from various graduate schools.You will probably want to spend an afternoon looking at these catalogues.You should also take advantage of the home pages that graduate schools maintain on the web. The following are some web sites that may be of help in the early stages of your search for the ideal graduate program in sociology.
After you have identified the graduate programs you are most interested in write them and ask for catalogues, full program information, application forms, etc. For the surest and quickest results make these requests on a postcard. Full letters are not required or desired at this time. When you are done with your catalogues we would appreciate it if you would use them to update or add to our catalogue collection.Back to top
In your last year before graduation --
Narrow the number of schools in which you are interested. Be sure to take into account the distance from home, geographical location, and any other factors which might affect your life while there. You should ask for advice on the status of the programs to which you are applying. Such facts determined at this point can have dramatic effects years later when on the academic or research job market. You should apply to at least one nationally ranked graduate program.
Prepare separate folders or files for each school you decide upon. Arrange the material in such a way to make it easy to keep track of the number of letters of recommendation required, the application deadlines, whether GRE general and the sociology subject tests are required, the number of transcripts needed, etc.
If you haven't already done for the so, take the GRE in October, but remember that application for the GRE is generally made at least six weeks in advance. Most students could benefit from taking the GRE twice, and research shows that scores generally go up in the second attempt. Careful study of a major introductory sociology text book is a good basis for preparing for the sociology subject area test.
Next you should complete the "Request for Recommendation" format the back of the Sociology Major's Handbook.
The completed form will help those who agree to write letters of recommendation to do a better job for you. So it is important that you provide all the requested information by including: your grades in sociology and related courses, whatever strengths or weaknesses you feel you have in preparation for graduate school, and a list of graduate school addresses arranged in order of the letter deadlines (earliest, first) to which letters should be mailed.
Ask for letters from those faculty members who are actually familiar with your work. Allow the faculty members at least five weeks to write the letters and get them in the mail. Not only will they appreciate your thoughtful consideration of their time constraints, but they will also be able to devote more time to writing a solid and helpful recommendation.December
Request GRE transcripts be sent to all graduate schools on your shortlist.
Prepare a rough draft of your personal statement for each school requiring one, and ask both friends and faculty to read it and make suggestions.
Request that the university registrar forward copies of your transcripts to each of the graduate schools. Take care to note that some of the schools will ask for multiple sets to be sent to the department and the graduate dean's office.
During the month, complete all application forms. Be sure to duplicate a copy of each for yourself, and then mail them before returning to school in January. You might consider sending these by certified mail. Doing so will provide proof that each application arrived in a timely fashion,and will allow you later to track down any fugitive application. It is unlikely that handwritten applications receive serious attention.February-March
Arrange and attend as many departmental interviews as possible. You should be the judge of the importance of the personal interview. If you feel comfortable in such situations, the interview can be quite useful in allowing the graduate admissions committee to connect an application with a face and personality. If you are uncomfortable, you may want to avoid the personal interview.
Note: Perhaps the greatest advantage of the interview process is the contact you can make with current graduate students. Such contact can be invaluable in helping you to assess what the program is really like.
Be sure to write a quick "thank you" note to the faculty and graduate students with whom you meet.April
You should begin to receive replies as April 15th approaches. If you haven't heard from a school by then, it is appropriate to call the school to ask about the status of your application.
Having made your final decision about which school to attend, be sure to notify all of the remaining schools on your list about your decision.This is especially important for those schools which have offered you financial aid and will hold open your slot until notified.Back to top