12 tips for getting into grad school

This week WOU hosted its annual Grad School Week, which featured presentations for students interested in attending grad school. The presentations, which were sponsored by WOU’s Service Learning and Career Development Center, gave insight to the application process. Did you get a chance to attend any presentations? If not, read some of their best tips below!

3 Tips for Entrance Exams

  • Study the difficult things first and the simple things last. Need to brush up on your math formulas? Start with that first so that you have the time and energy needed to get through all the material.
  • Consider taking a GRE prep class. Does the thought of taking a test make your palms sweaty and your head dizzy? Take a class to accustom yourself with the test format, and to gauge the timing for each section.  
  • Arrive early and prepared. Just like you mother has been reminding you for years, make sure you get enough sleep, as well as a healthy breakfast!

3 Tips for Financing Grad School

  • Work for the school. Apply to be a graduate teaching assistant or a graduate research assistant. Typically these positions will cover at least part of the tuition, as well as a provide a periodic stipend to help with living expenses. To find assistantships, look within your specific department, and apply early.
  • Apply for scholarships. If you’re looking for scholarships, begin doing your research well in advance. Often the scholarship deadlines are due much earlier than the actual school application.
  • Apply for financial aid by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Stafford loans carry a 6.8 percent interest rate, and grow interest throughout the borrowing period, but doesn’t require payments until six months after graduation. For whatever is leftover, Graduate PLUS loans are another option with a 7.9 interest rate. Finally, it’s always a great idea to look into private loans, as you can usually get a lower interest rate.

3 Tips for Personal Statements

  • Customize your personal statements. Do your research on the school(s) you’re applying for, and make sure to include relevant information in your statement. Use your personal statement to show how your experiences and abilities fit the program, and how you will be able to thrive in the environment
  • Ask someone else to read your statement. Have your professor proofread your statement. Ask for suggestions. Make an appointment at your school’s writing center to make sure your paper is free of errors.
  • Be honest. The panels of professors reading your applications want to know about you – not the cliche fluff used to fill out papers with vague and uninteresting lines. Tell the panel your story.

As a WOU graduate student myself, I also have a few tips to make the process easier.

3 Tips from a Graduate Student

  • Make a spreadsheet. Get information from each school that you are interested in applying for, and begin plugging in information into your tables. Include important details like application deadlines, fees, requirements, tuition, and available scholarships (and their deadlines). This enables you to see which application needs to be completed first, how much money you will need for each application, and what needs to be done.
  • Break the process up into smaller pieces. Applying to grad school is overwhelming. You will be stressed. You will have lots of pieces of information to string together. You will have to do all of this while also staying on top of your schoolwork. Do one thing at a time, and keeping moving forward.
  • Ask for help. I think this is probably the most important tip I can give. I couldn’t have gotten into grad school without help from my professors and peers. Meet with your professors during office hours, and bring them coffee. They will appreciate it.

To learn more about applying to grad school, or to see which graduate programs are available at WOU, visit the WOU Graduate Program website.  

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