Graduate School Planning

Click The Links Below To View The...
Grad School Timeline Am I Ready for Grad School?
Researching Programs Pros of Working Before Grad School
Financial Assistance Pros of Directly Attending Grad School
The Grad School Application Graduate & Professional School Exams

Graduate School Planning Timeline

Junior Year
  • 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
Senior Year
  • 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
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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.
  • 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?
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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 leaving Furman.

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.
  • 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 education.
To not lose academic momentum.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Less financial and personal constraints increase your chances of obtaining a graduate degree.
  • Let's 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.
  • 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.
Advance your career and earn a higher income.
  • Many careers and occupations require a graduate degree. If one knows that it will be necessary to attend graduate school in order to be successful in the career, waiting most likely will not be the best option.
  • Not 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 in salary?

REASONS TO WAIT BEFORE ATTENDING GRADUATE SCHOOL

To give yourself a break from school.
  • On 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 clarify your work and academic interests.
  • Many 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 conduct in depth research on graduate schools and programs of interest.
  • 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 improve your chances of being accepted and successfully finishing a program.
  • 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.

  • Many 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.

  • Graduate 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 professional goals.
To prepare for the financial burdens of graduate school.
  • Application 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 expenses.

  • Graduate 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 interest fees.
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Researching Programs

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 programs.

Graduate School Library - 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
Gradschools.com - Search for programs by graduate degree subjects

Careerjournal.com - includes a scholarship search, practice tests, and college calculators. Search for law schools, business schools, and graduate schools by:
      • keyword
      • institution name
      • program
      • degree
      • location
The Princeton Review - find 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 - research 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.

Petersons - 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 School

Find The Best Medical School

Graduate Degrees in Education

GraduateSchool4you.com

LawSchoolPath.com

LawCareersNow.com

Online-colleges/masters-degree

Online-mba-programs

Mastersdegreeonline.org

MyGraduateSchool.com

Find the Best Schools

Masters in Education

Phds.org

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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
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a half-day standardized test 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)
Taken from MBA.com
The 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

Varsity Tutors

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The Application

Personal Statement - 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.
Recommendations - 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 required.
  • 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 you that will help them write the recommendation.
Resume and CV's - 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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Financial Assistance

Institutional Funds

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 institution.
  • 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.
Federal Loans

The 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.
  • 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.
Private Student Loans

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
Private Scholarship

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:
  • Fastweb.com
  • Professional organizations and societies
  • Civic Organizations and Societies
  • Academic Societies
  • Employers
Employer Reimbursement Programs

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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