Apply to graduate school: key points, tips, and suggestions


hi there I'm Amanda Bittner a professor

in the Department of Political Science

I'm here to talk to you today about how

to get into grad school just a few

things to think about one of the things

you might want to think about first when

you're thinking about applying to grad

school is thinking about what it is that

you actually want to do when you're done

why might you want to do a graduate

degree over something else

why not work why not come back and do a

bit more undergraduate work why not

think about law school why not think

about other kinds of things all of these

are viable options and it's important to

think about this and to think about what

it is that you want when you're thinking

about what comes next there are a few

things that you should think about when

you're thinking about why you would want

to go to grad school and there's also

reasons not to go to grad school you

should absolutely not consider grad

school in order to please your parents

or because you think it'll bring you

money fame and glory you should not

consider graduate school just because

you don't know what to do with your life

be aware grad school is hard work

it'll be very different for your

undergraduate program and it may not be

for you and that is okay there are

reasons though that you should consider

grad school you should consider grad

school if you enjoy being engaged in and

challenged by intellectual and practical

problems it is a deeply enriching

intellectual experience and can often be

an excellent and necessary preparation

for professional career so if you've

decided on grad school and you're

thinking about where to go there's lots

of ways and lots of factors that you can

consider when you're deciding where it

is that you want to go you'd want to

consider the kind of program is it a

course pace program is it a thesis brace

program what exactly is involved in the

program itself where is it where might

you want to live where might you not

want to live these are all important

things to think about what are the

program requirements do you have the GPA

to get in does it require a standardized

test in order for you to get in what are

the language requirements and then also

you want to think about who it is that

you might work with at this school who

are the professors who are the possible

supervisors do they do what you want to

do is this a good fit and finally of

course you should always think about the

cost of the program as well as financial

aid school costs a lot and so the more

you think about these kinds of things

the better off you're going to be there

are also things that you can do when

you're planning to and beginning the

process of applying to grad school you

want to make sure that

you visit the website of the programs

that interest you along with the website

of the faculty or School of Graduate

Studies at that school you can email the

program coordinator of the program that

you want to obtain additional from

information that you might need and that

you don't have one thing to keep in mind

here is that you never want to ask

questions where there are easy answers

available online this will just annoy

the person who is receiving your email

and they're often the ones who are

deciding the status of your program

applications you want to make sure that

you present as good a foot forward as

possible also a good idea if you can is

to visit the department talk to

professor's and talk to students who are

currently in the program you'll get a

better feel for what's involved in that

school and what being in the program

might actually feel like once you're

there finally you want to make sure that

you also assess the credibility of the

program especially if it's a foreign

based program that you've never heard of

you want to make sure that it's a real

program and not something strange or

unusual or out there to kind of get you

and steal your money when you're

thinking about grad school and programs

in particular it's one thing to take a

look at you know the web and see what's

out there and think about grad programs

in general but you also want to remember

that at the end of the day you're the

one that's gonna be in that grad program

you want to make sure that you pick a

program that's right for you not right

for somebody else so there are a few

things that you can do to make sure you

pick the program that's right for you

talk to professors at your home

institution they're full of useful

advice they know you and they can help

you they know you as a student and they

know how many of the programs that are

out there that might be appropriate and

might be of interest to you select

programs that best match your

intellectual interests and your

professional and personal needs don't

select programs that you don't really

want to be a part of because you're

wasting your time and your money as

you're applying for these programs also

if you're not a great fit they're gonna

see that and they're gonna wonder why it

is that you're applying you always want

to think about finances money always

matters there's a joke out there it's

not really a joke about students always

being poor you don't want to go down

that road if you can actually get money

for your programs to finance your life

and to finance that degree you should

try to do that finally you want to think

about where it is that you want to live

we are all different we have very

different preferences about geography

weather location all that kind of stuff

family and friends we

you want to live schools one of the

times that you actually have some choice

over where it is that you are and that's

something to think about because you'll

enjoy your program more if it is

something where you actually want to be

so one of the things that people often

ask when they're when they finally found

where does they want to go and they're

like okay now what I know where I want

to be I know what I want to do now do I

do so the first important thing that you

want to do is carefully look at all the

prerequisites you want to make sure you

understand whether or not the program

requires language testing whether it

require standardized testing or other

kinds of tests before you can even apply

if so make sure that you make

arrangements early to take those tests

and perhaps even a prep course if you

can because those scores need to be

included in your application and you

want to give yourself enough time to

actually accomplish that part of the

application first so in terms of what

your application will include if you had

to do a test then the test scores are

required but it's important to remember

that no two applications are the same so

in addition to filling in an actual

application form online or by paper

depending on the situation you'll

probably need to include a few other

things as well and it's important to

remember these things as you're

preparing yourself so often programs

require reference letters

recommendations from professors

employers things like that you will

probably need transcripts from all of

your post-secondary schools any

undergraduate work that you have done

will be required to want to see how it

is that you've done in the past whether

or not you'd be a good fit for the

program also a lot of programs will

require some kind of letter or of

interest or statement explaining what it

is that you want to do why it is that

you want to do it why is that the school

and this program is appropriate and

perfect I was a fit you may have an

application fee that you've got to pay

as well often applications will require

a CV or a resume of kind of what you've

been doing so far and a lot of

applications also require a sample of

your written work so often what this

means is it's a paper that you've

written in your third or your fourth

year of your undergraduate program this

is a lot of components and it does

require some time to compile so you

don't want to just rush it you want to

make sure that you give yourself enough

time to actually do all of these things

to make sure that you have a successful


so a few tips to kind of finish off here

it's important that you don't wait till

the last minute

start working on your application early

ideally two to three months before the

deadline make sure that you follow the

requirements set by the program or the

University for example if there are

required components whether it's

transcripts whether it's reference

letters whether it's a writing sample

any documents that they require make

sure you include them often your

application can be rejected on

technicalities so if you didn't include

something because you didn't notice that

it was required your application while

otherwise perhaps successful can be

rejected so make sure you pay attention

to details make sure also that you

follow up on your application it's your

responsibility to make sure all of the

required documentation is there it's not

anybody else's job to do that so you

want to make sure that you follow up and

make sure that your transcripts are in

that your recommendation letters have

arrived they've gone to the appropriate

deadline so you can watch other videos

that talk about how to ask for a

reference letter and how to write a

statement of interest and those are

really helpful but it's really important

that you think about all application

components as you move forward and

remember if you have a question look

online first see if you can find the

answer and if you can't find the answer

absolutely you should get in touch with

those who are running these programs to

give you some more information good luck