Graduate School Planning
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Graduate School Planning Timeline
Begin speaking with your advisor and other faculty about your graduate school options
Meet with a Career Counselor to discuss finding graduate programs and future plans
Take a practice test and begin studying for graduate and/or professional school exams
Begin requesting information from graduate schools
Attend Graduate School Fair to obtain information on schools and programs
Contact professors in the programs of study in which you are interested
Attend Junior Jumpstart - a program designed to give an overview of graduate and professional school admissions process
Narrow down graduate school options to the schools of which you would like to apply
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Meet with professors to finalize graduate school plans
Attend the Graduate School Fair to speak with representatives of the universities and programs to which you are applying
Ask professors for recommendations
Obtain required materials for applications
Keep in contact with the professors in the graduate and professional schools in which you are interested
Have professors and counselors look over your admissions statement
Take the necessary admissions tests (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT etc)
Begin and finish work on personal statement
Should You Attend Graduate School?
There are several questions to consider when deciding upon attending
graduate school. No one can answer these questions except you. Try not
to allow the choices of your friends or anyone else to influence you or
your answers to the questions below.
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What are your goals and objectives for going to graduate school?
Do you have the traits needed to attend graduate school?
Have you talked with professors and your college advisor?
Have you investigated your career potential with and without a graduate school degree?
Do you need an advanced degree to get the job you want?
How will a graduate degree affect your salary?
Will a graduate degree allow for faster advancement in the field?
- How will you pay for school?
Work or Graduate School... How Do I Choose?
Choosing whether to attend graduate school or gain real world experience
directly after leaving Furman is a big decision and one that should not
be made lightly. It is a personal decision and should take into account
the needs, wants, and personality of the individual. No one can make
this decision for you. One must learn of their options and weigh the
pros and cons of each. Below are some common reasons that students
choose to attend graduate school or find employment directly after
REASONS TO ATTEND GRADUATE SCHOOL DIRECTLY UPON LEAVING FURMAN
To further pursue your love of learning or gain in-depth knowledge of a particular field or subfield.
To not lose academic momentum.
A liberal arts degree provides vast amounts of general knowledge about
several areas of study. On the other hand, a graduate degree provides
in-depth knowledge on a specific area of study. Attending graduate
school would allow one to spend more time researching or learning about
an area he or she found interesting during his or her undergraduate
By the time of college graduation, most students have learned both time
management skills and study skills. Most are in the habit of spending
hours in the classroom or doing homework, group projects, meeting
deadlines, working on papers, and time-consuming projects. Going
directly to graduate school ensures that the study and time management
skills and habits learned will not be lost.
Less financial and personal constraints increase your chances of obtaining a graduate degree.
One can keep closely abreast of new academic developments in his or her field. For
example, in the science field or another field that is evolving and
ever changing, taking a year or two to work can lead to falling behind
in new procedures and findings and the forgetting of learned skills.
face it, college students are used to not having a lot of money. While
in a graduate program, this usually does not change. Therefore, having
a low income will not be as stressful of a situation as having a steady
income that is reduced or lost due to enrollment in graduate school. In
short, it is a lot easier to do without what you never had.
Advance your career and earn a higher income.
Statistics show that your chances of returning to school for a
graduate degree decreases with each year spent working. This sometimes
occurs because of promotions at work and increased responsibilities such
as work, family, and expenses.
only are unemployment rates lower for those with advanced degrees, but
most annual salaries increase when a person has additional schooling or
a graduate degree under their belt. It will vary for each profession
and one must weigh the options. For professions that do not require a
graduate degree, does the cost of graduate school outweigh the increase
REASONS TO WAIT BEFORE ATTENDING GRADUATE SCHOOL
To give yourself a break from school.
To clarify your work and academic interests.
average, most students have had some form of schooling for 18 years.
That is eighteen years of being on another person's schedule. That is
attending class, required reading and deadlines, and critical thinking.
Many students will decide to spend a year in the real world to learn
practical skills, travel, read for pleasure, and regenerate before
attending class again.
To conduct in depth research on graduate schools and programs of interest.
students leave college still not knowing what they want to do "when
they grow up." For this reason, many students take a year or more off
to work or do an internship and explore different career choices
through hands-on experiences. This saves them both the timeand money
of investing in a career they have little interest in pursuing.
To improve your chances of being accepted and successfully finishing a program.
Senior year can be a very busy time for students. On
top of projects, senior seminars, and/or positions in organizations and
activities, students must still attend class and achieve satisfactory
grades. With all of this, it is often difficult
to research graduate programs and complete all the graduate school
requirements necessary for the applications. For this
reason, many students will spend the year after graduation researching
graduate programs, visiting schools, speaking with professors, and
studying for entrance exams.
To prepare for the financial burdens of graduate school.
In many cases, entrance exam scores determine the level of financial aid received from the graduate program. Many
students use the first year out of their undergraduate degree to study
for exams, take practice tests, enroll in test preparation classes, and
review materials on the test.
Many students will devote the year or two to creating their personal statements, and reviewing their application materials.
graduate programs prefer their students to have at least one or two
years of real world experience before attending. This makes your
studies more applicable to work and allows the students to bring
professional examples to the classroom.
school in most cases is very different from your undergraduate
education. Even more responsibility is placed on the student for his or
her learning, and the requirements for staying enrolled are much more
difficult. It takes not only study skills but also time management and
maturity to succeed. The time spent out of school helps prepare
students for the stresses and strains of graduate school curriculum,
and it allows increased focus on grades and a degree to achieve your
fees, testing fees, and moving, not to mention paying for graduate
school itself, can be extremely expensive. Many students decide to work
a year or two to save money for graduate school and living/relocation
school is expensive, but it ultimately benefits the organization for
which one works. Many employers will assist with course fees through an
educational reimbursement program if the employee makes satisfactory
grades and/or commits to working for the employer for a set period.
This can save a person thousands of dollars on student loans and
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Graduate School Library -
Graduate and Professional School Fair -
Admissions representatives from top graduate and professional schools visit campus each fall for a one-day event. This
is an excellent opportunity for those students considering graduate
school to meet these reps and learn more about various graduate
There is a vast amount of information in the library located in the Career Services Suite. Information includes:
Information catalogues of graduate schools and programs
Lists of the medical school programs in the country
Books listing law school programs in the United States
Information, catalogues, and lists of programs in specific subjects and degree areas
Search for programs by graduate degree subjects
includes a scholarship search, practice tests, and college calculators. Search for law schools, business schools, and graduate schools by:
The Princeton Review -
general information and tips on getting into graduate school. Topics
include graduate school searches, improving entrance exam scores and
skills, and finding scholarships and financial aid.
US News and World Report Graduate School Rankings -
website lists top graduate schools each year based on price, professors, academic rigor, and research.
Graduate Guide -
graduate schools by state, undergraduate major, and proximity to an
area code. Also, receive information on financial aid, student loans,
graduate test dates, and an index of graduate majors.
assists in every stage of graduate school planning. This website will
not only help you get started, but help find schools that match your
interest, prepare for tests, and assist in finding financial resources
to pay for your education. Find The Best Business School (MBA)
Find The Best Law SchoolFind The Best Medical School
Graduate Degrees in Education
Find the Best Schools
Masters in Education
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Graduate and Professional School Exams
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General and Subject Test
Taken from the Educational Testing Service website
The GRE® General Test
measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking,
and analytical writing skills that have been acquired over a long
period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study.
The GRE® Subject Tests
gauge undergraduate achievement in eight specific fields of study and
can help forecast a candidate's potential for success in graduate
school. Each Subject Test is intended for students who have majored in
or have extensive background in that specific area.
The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
MCAT Practice Test
Taken from Association of American Medical Colleges
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
is a standardized,
multiple-choice examination designed to assess the examinee's problem
solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and knowledge of science
concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Scores
are reported in Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences, Writing Sample,
and Biological Sciences. Medical colleges consider MCAT scores as part
of their admission process. Almost all U.S. medical schools require
applicants to submit MCAT scores. Many schools do not accept MCAT
scores that are more than three years old.
The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
Taken from the Law School Admissions Council
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
is a half-day
required for admission to all ABA-approved law schools, most Canadian
law schools, and many non-ABA-approved law schools. It provides a
standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that
law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants.
The test is administered four times a year at hundreds of locations
around the world. Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by
December for admission the following fall. However, taking the test
earlier (in June or October)is often advised. Almost all ABA-approved
law schools also require that you register for the Law School Data
Assembly Service (LSDAS).
The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®)
is a standardized
assessment delivered in English that helps business schools assess the
qualifications of applicants for advanced study in business and
management. Schools use the test as one predictor of academic
performance in an MBA program or in other graduate management programs.
The GMAT® exam measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical
writing skills that you have developed over a long period of time in
your education and work.
GMAT Practice Test Mometrix Academy
GRE video tutorials
Study Guide Zone.
Graduate school exam information and free study guides.
Test Dates Central
- Information about the major standardized tests which are only given on certain dates throughout the year.
Test Preparation Review
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- Visit the Career Library for information and tips on creating your personal statement. Find specific books on:
- Essays for law and business schools
- Writing a winning personal statement
- General graduate admission essays
- Game plans for getting into business, law, and medical school.
- Most schools require at least three letters of recommendation. These
recommendations are usually from faculty, but can also be from
supervisors and staff members. Check with your schools to see what is
Resume and CV's
- Ask for your recommendations early.
- Remember, several other students may be requesting recommendations. Asking
early gives professors a chance to plan their schedules and prepare
their recommendations without being as stressed about the deadline.
Provide all necessary information (resume, CV, applications) to
those writing the recommendation. Many schools require references to
fill out special forms, make sure
they have the correct forms, and any supplemental information about
that will help them write the recommendation.
- This page will take you to tips and tools to help in constructing your resume.
The Graduate School Interview
- This page provides tools and tips for mastering an interview.
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Institutional funds are provided by the university to those who
demonstrate financial need and/or high academic ability. Students
usually have to file a separate application for aid with the
institution or graduate department. Check with Office of Financial Aid
and the academic department of interest at the institution to find out
the availability and requirements to receive financial aid.
- Scholarships - based on academic interests, scholarly aptitude, or financial need. Students are not required to repay these.
- Grants - A grant is a type of financial aid based on financial need that the student does not have to repay.
- Loans - provided by the school to assist with financial need. They may or may
not incur interest and MUST be repaid in compliance with the
- Part-time Employment - Students may work on campus or at an assigned internship to gain
experience applying skills and knowledge learned from their degree.
- Teaching or Research Assistantships -
Students work part-time (approximately 20 hrs a week) for their
academic department in return for tuition discounts, academic credit,
practical work experience, or a housing stipend.
U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human
Services provide Federal Aid after filling out the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Click Here
to begin the application.
Private Student Loans
- Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan - Based on financial need, the government pays the interest on the loan
while you are enrolled in school, during the interim period (usually
six months), and during deferment periods.
- Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan -
You are responsible for paying all interest on these loans, either
while you are in school or in addition to the loan during the repayment
period. All students are eligible for this type of loan.
Even with federal aid and institutional aid, the likelihood of needing
additional money for tuition and living expenses is high. Private loans
assist in covering any deficit one may have.
- Private loans are available through banks, agencies, and non-profit organizations
- Eligibility and amounts vary by person, school, income and loan type
- May require a credit check
Various organizations, businesses, and individuals give out private
scholarships for a variety of reasons. Places to look for scholarships
include but are not limited to:
Employer Reimbursement Programs
- Professional organizations and societies
- Civic Organizations and Societies
- Academic Societies
Many employers will offer assistance to their employees who choose to
go back or attend graduate school through an employer reimbursement
program. The names of these programs vary by employer, but in general,
the company will pay all or part of the employee's tuition as long as a
certain grade is achieved in a class.
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