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Graduate School Prep

Pursuing a graduate or professional degree is an important decision that requires significant planning. The Career Development Center can help you:

  • Discover a wide range of graduate and professional school options
  • Develop realistic post-baccalaureate plans
  • Navigate the application process
  • Create effective application materials and prepare for successful interviewing

 Deciding to Go to Graduate School

Graduate school is not just another year (or two or three) of college.  It can be as different from your undergraduate work as high school was from college.  The Career Development Center can assist you with making this important decision.  To get you started, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

    • Do I need an advanced degree to enter my field?
    • Do I have a passionate interest in the subject area?
    • Do I enjoy research?
    • Do I find school work enjoyable?

If you struggled to answer these questions, call the Career Development Center at 610-683-4067 to schedule an appointment for individual career coaching.  A staff member will help you clarify your goals so you can make the best decision for you.

Getting Started

Understanding the graduate school application process is an important first step.

Applying to Graduate & Professional Schools Guidebook
Pick up or download this guidebook which will addresses all your questions regarding researching and applying to graduate or professional schools.

Workshops, Events & Presentations
Every semester, the CDC hosts workshops and information sessions on topics relevant to graduate school.  Additionally, each spring a Graduate School Fair is held where you can meet and talk to representatives from local and regional graduate and professional schools. Click here for Schedule of Events.

Graduate School Timeline
The graduate school application process takes some time and planning so good organization is key. Click here for a sample timeline to help you stay on track.

Choosing a School or Program

There are a number of factors to consider when researching schools and deciding where to apply.

    • Campus- What resources are available?  What is the campus size and location?
    • Curriculum-  What degree is granted?  How long will it take to complete the program? Do you have the prerequisites?
    • Reputation-  What is the reputation of the school, program and faculty? 
    • Accreditation-  Is the university and/or the program accredited by discipline-specific boards and organizations?
    • Faculty-  Are the professors committed to research and well known in their disciplines?  Are they concerned about and accessible to students?
    • Costs and Financial Assistance-  What is the tuition?  What opportunities  exist for assistantships and scholarships?

 Researching Graduate Schools

  1. Learn about graduate and professional opportunities by utilizing comprehensive websites that provide listings of graduate and professional programs across the country.  Here are just a few:
  2. Research individual school websites paying particular attention to application procedures and deadlines.
  3. Speak with faculty in your major and/or field of interest.
  4. Attend the Graduate School Fair held each Spring.  (See Schedule of Events 

Navigating the Application Process 

 Strategize and Plan
Be proactive and make a plan for completing your applications.  Make yourself aware of specific deadlines and requirements unique to each program/school (e.g. admissions essays, letters of recommendation, required test/test scores, transcripts, applications, etc.).  Consult your prospective schools' website and admissions office to gather information.

To be fully considered for scholarships and assistantships, be sure to complete the entire process well before the printed application deadline. 

Application
Complete the entire application for admission and pay the application fee.  For most schools and programs the application is online.  Consider downloading a print copy to use for your rough draft. 

Personal Essay
In most cases, you will be asked for a personal statement or essay.  This is a very important element of the application that both demonstrates your written communication skills and defines your fit for the program.  The best essays are clear, concise, and passionate. Check out these resources for tips and strategies for writing an effective admissions essay.

 Resume
An up-to-date resume is often required as part of the application process.  Click here for more information on writing an effective resume. 

Letters of Recommendation
Most schools will require several letters of recommendation.  Choose individuals who can speak to your strengths as they relate to your program or discipline.  Be sure to ask for your letters at least one month prior to your deadline.  Click here for tips on requesting letters of recommendation.

Entrance Exams
Most graduate and professional school programs require an entrance exam as part of the admissions process. It is important that you prepare and take the exam early in your application process to be assured that your scores will be available to your prospective school by the application deadline.  It will also allow you the opportunity to retest if needed.  Click on the links below for test dates, locations, and registration.

Gradudate School Prep by Kaplan

Take a FREE online graduate school entrance exam practice test from your personal computer
Visit: www.kaptest.com to choose a date/time that works with YOUR schedule.

What's next on your journey to an advanced degree? Find more free tools. Kaplan's What's Next Quiz
Kaplan's 'What's Next' 2-minute quiz will assess your place in the journey and give you access to free tools and information that can help you become more prepared.