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Is Graduate School Right for You?

June 9, 2007 by

Americans with a graduate degree earn an average of 35-50% more than those with just a bachelor’s degree.* But money is not the only reason to pursue a graduate degree. So, when weighing whether to attend grad school, what factors hold the most weight for you?

Time for a Career Change?

Many people make the decision to return to grad school after working in “the real world.” Some feel that their career options are otherwise limited. Others find that their interests and abilities have developed over the years and no longer have anything to do with their undergraduate education.

Make the Move into Management

After working in the trenches for a while and developing a strong sense of how your organization is run, you may be interested in moving up to the management level of your field. This move often requires some graduate education.

Is Teaching Where Your Heart Lies?

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Build an Effective Grad School Application

When it comes to applying to graduate school, your are “the product.” Your application is your marketing document. Marketing yourself doesn’t mean that you should lie or even embellish the facts. It simply means that you need to make a lucid and convincing presentation. Everything on your application should contribute to an overall picture of you that clearly demonstrates that you belong in the class and will make a solid contribution to the learning of your peers.

Graduate School Admission Requirements

The most common graduate admissions requirements include your undergraduate GPA (especially in your major), your GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and your personal statement. However, expectations and admission requirements vary from program to program. For example, if you are applying to a counseling psychology program, the admissions office will most likely be looking for experience in a “people-helping” profession. On the other hand, if you are pursuing an academic

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The GRE® Psychology Subject Test

The GRE Psychology Subject Test is designed to test advanced knowledge that a student applying to graduate school in psychology is expected to understand. The test requires knowledge of psychological vocabulary, names, and facts across a variety of psychological fields at the equivalent of an upper-level college class.

The Basics of the GRE Psychology Subject Test

The GRE Psychology Subject Test is a paper-and-pencil test consisting of 215–220 multiple-choice questions with five answer choices. The test spans 2 hours and 50 minutes and questions fall into one of three content categories:

  • Experimental or Natural Science-Oriented Questions (about 40% of questions), include learning, language, memory, thinking, sensation and perception, physiological psychology, ethology, and comparative psychology. They contribute to the experimental psychology subscore and the total score.
  • Social or Social Science-OrientedQuestions (about 43% of questions). are distributed among the fields of clinical and abnormal, developmental, personality, and social psychology. They contribute
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First Step: Assess Your Needs and Goals?

May 9, 2007 by

For your degree of interest, you will have to select from dozens of grad programs with different specializations. When choosing a grad program, consider the following factors:

Location and Setting

Are you interested in moving? Do you prefer a school in a large city, on a leafy campus, or a more remote setting? Which location best serves your career interests? For example, if you’re targeting biomedical research, does the area have top-notch hospitals and research facilities?

Reputation of the Graduate Program

Which schools in your field are most highly regarded? Is a more prestigious school the right fit for you? What is the reputation for job placement? What is the alumni involvement and contribution?

Curriculum and Program Quality

Does the school offer your particular field of interest? Find out if there are any prerequisites. Is there a particular professor with whom you’d like to work?

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Assessing Your Chances

The trick to assessing your chances of getting into a particular graduate program is to know where you stand with regard to the various factors that programs consider when making admissions decisions. A good way to do this is to create a fact sheet with your GRE scores (or projected scores), overall GPA, and GPA in your major (and minor, if applicable). Relevant outside activities, work experience, internships, publications, etc. will also contribute to the overall strength of your application.

Look at Objective Factors

The next step is to find a current source of information about graduate programs. There are several guides and online databases published every year that provide rankings of schools, as well as data about acceptance rates and average GPA and GRE scores. In addition, some rank schools according to their reputations among students, professors, or prominent people in the field.

Put

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Are Part-Time Graduate Programs Right for You?

If you need to work while in grad school, start by finding out how much flexibility the program affords. Carrying two classes per semester instead of four can make balancing work and study possible. However, part-time programs can take quite a long time to complete.

How to Evaluate Part-Time Graduate Programs

Find out how your target graduate program accommodates part-timers. Appropriate questions include:

  • Are there night/weekend classes?
  • Is the library open at night and on weekends?
  • What about the campus computer center? The lab?
  • What sort of financial aid, if any, is available for part-timers?
  • Are the course offerings the same as in the full-time program?
  • Do the same faculty members teach as in the full-time program?
  • Do part-time students get the same priority as those in the full-time program when registering for courses? Often full-timers have an earlier registration, meaning some courses could be

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Get Effective Letters of Recommendation

Recommendations rank among the most important items in your admissions file. In many cases, they are the most important, making or breaking many an application. So start thinking about them as soon as possible. The whole process of identifying good recommenders, lining them up, and then making sure they follow through with winning letters can take a lot of time.

Try To Elicit Personal Recommendations

Choose people who like you and who think you’re good at what you do. If you’re still in college or a recent grad, your college professors will likely make the best references. This is especially true if you’re going on to study the same subject in grad school.

Choose good writers who can express their opinions clearly. If a potential recommender seems less than enthusiastic in any way, keep looking. That person’s ambivalence is likely to come through in the

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Ace the Grad School Admissions Interview

While not every school requires an interview, for many it’s an important requirement for admissions. In addition, some schools use interviews to evaluate borderline cases. Whatever the reason for the interview, it’s important that you schedule with the admissions officer early. Otherwise, a local alum will conduct the interview.

Eight Top Admissions Interview Tips 

1. Review your application. The interviewer is likely to ask specific questions about it.
2. Be ready to relate several stories on how you took the initiative or participated in a leadership role 
3. Be open and honest.
4. Ask good questions and make sure the answer is not in the school’s reading materials.
5. Be prepared to give a convincing answer to the interviewer’s inevitable question, “Why here?”
6. Follow proper business decorum.
7. Watch your non-verbal clues, such as eye contact, posture, and fidgeting.
8. Be courteous to … Read full post

A Look Inside the Graduate Admissions Committee

Contrary to popular opinion, graduate school admissions is not just a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” decision-making process. Many subjective factors come into play throughout the admissions cycle.

How Does the Admissions Process Work?

The process works differently at each school and program, but certain things remain roughly the same. A group will make an initial review of the applications, making a first cut by separating possible acceptances from clear rejections. At this stage, there are several reasons for rejection. The application might not be complete, the grades or GRE scores well below the program’s standards, the applicant seriously lacks preparation for the program, or the recommendations are clearly negative.

The remaining applications are reviewed in more detail. In some programs, the applicants are divided among the committee members and each group settles on its favorite candidates. When the committee reconvenes, the favorites are presented … Read full post

Write a Compelling Graduate School Application Essay

Personal Statement… Statement of Purpose… Candidate’s Admission Statement… These terms bring a shiver to the spine of many a potential grad student. However, you should think of the personal statement as an opportunity to show admissions officers what you’re made of. They want to know why you want to attend their grad program and this essay is your chance to tell them as clearly and compellingly as you can.

How Do Schools Use Your Application Essay?

Personal statements serve two basic purposes. First, they show whether you can write a clear, coherent essay that’s logically and grammatically correct. These days, students’ writing ability is often presumed deficient unless proven otherwise.

Second, essays give you the opportunity to present the admissions committee with more of a “three-dimensional” portrait of yourself as a deserving candidate than GPA and GRE numbers possibly can. What you choose to write … Read full post

 
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