Sharaya’s 5 Tips to Graduate School: Series Two

Sharaya S. is a first year graduate student majoring in Education at Wayne State Univeristy. Join Sharaya as she hosts a three part series blog giving tips and personal experiences on how to successfully transition into graduate school!

Welcome back to “5 Tips for Grad School Success”!

Let’s continue with Steps 3 and 4, Preparation and Opportunity. If you haven’t already read Steps 1 & 2 refer to: 5 Tips for Grad School Success Series One

While the first two tips focused on investigation and gaining advice the next two steps should be done right before you commit to a program/fellowship/cohort. These next steps are going to help you narrow down where you want to go. For me, this choice was easy because I stayed at my alma mater. Wayne State University has a diverse community, the LDT program that aligned with my interest of teaching online college education, and it was also close to my small, unorganized…did I mention small studio apartment.

Step 3. Preparation is key!

Depending on your personal goals, ambitions and financial status (job, income, residence) graduate school may seem like a huge financial investment, and IT IS.
Ask yourself:

  1.  Will this program benefit me later in life?
  2.  Is the cost reasonable? Is the outcome reasonable?
  3.  Can I afford this program if I get employed in my field after graduation?

If you answered YES to all the above questions, you want to pursue graduate school! Do it for you, not for the prospect of only getting a better paying job. Graduate school is a tool to enhance your knowledge and further yourself in a field of study. It is NOT AN EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE magic ticket. I would say it will give you a better opportunity to landing a better paying job in your field of interest. Start preparing. First start gathering affordability and reliability stats for in-state and then move to out-of-state or even abroad graduate programs. Don’t cut yourself short... you’re paying for it so you should try and get into the best program you can while making it one you can afford.
Check out housing options (on-campus, off-campus, roommates, studio) funding (scholarships, grants, summer education programs), and on-campus jobs (work-study, on-campus job, paid internship) to supplement costs. Also think about the time you have to invest for addition schooling and narrow those down some give you up to 6 years … from my own experience with fulltime it should take 2-3 years to complete.

Step 4. Inquire and Act!

Follow up with different advisors. This was touched on in Tip 2 but gaining advice from any and everyone in the field you want to go into is the best way to get honest feedback. Advisors are the most reliable ways to get your questions answered. Some advisors are advising people in a study they were in themselves. Follow up.

Inquire: Time Frame

Half-time, Full-time, Online, Hybrid? There are multiple choices on how to attend graduate school. Unlike undergrad, most master’s degree have more flexibility when it comes to being a student. For example, full time in undergrad is 12 credits while full time in graduate school is 6-8. My program is completely online, this scared me at first but as I got through my first semester I'm getting the hang of it. Inquire from current students in your field of interest and see what works best for you.

Act: Be Proactive.

You have to apply… yes, again. Being proactive and applying early instead of late is the BEST bet for getting accepted. Graduate school is more competitive than undergraduate so it is harder to get into. Apply at multiple colleges of interest, having a “back-up” choice is smart. Don’t think because you didn’t get into your dream school that it isn’t worth pursuing. You might be surprised as the dream school might not be the right choice.

Stay tuned for final step #5 of my blog “Tips for Grad School Success!” 

If you would like to know more about Sharaya, listen to her FSM Student Strength Story on our podcast series and follow her on Instagram @texasbabii_.

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