When you think of graduate schools, what do you think? Do you see big names and elite status? Or do you see a school's reputation for providing the best education possible? Most people do not have a clear image of what a graduate school entails and often tend to base their opinions on negative impressions of what graduates from these schools have been known to have done. There is no doubt that there are some highly competitive and extremely well known graduate schools out there, but that does not mean that all of them will be the best option for you.
A grad school is typically a university that awards degree-holders with an advanced academic degree, usually with a year or two of full-time study required as a prerequisite. It is common for these universities to require students to spend at least part of each year living in the dorms. The goal of attending grad school at an elite university is that you will be able to obtain a highly respected degree upon graduation that will enable you to move forward in life and begin a career in a field that you love. However, it can be easy to forget that your living expenses will also be involved when choosing the right grad school.
The first factor that most students consider when selecting a graduate school is tuition costs. Most grad schools offer competitive tuition rates, but you should be sure to understand the financial aid options available to you and how they will affect your financial needs once you start attending classes. The first thing you should do is visit each school's financial aid website. Here you will find comprehensive information on tuition and living expenses as well as specific details about the student loans that will be associated with your graduate degree program. Make sure to visit each school's websites even if you've already decided on which grad school you would like to attend. You never know what kind of tuition surprises the schools may have in store for you once you start making payments!
Another factor that graduate students need to take into consideration before applying to grad schools is their plan for financing their education. While most grad schools offer financial aid to their graduate students, some schools require a student to have an additional funding source or do not provide much assistance at all. Before you apply to any school, it is important to set aside a budget for your education and set aside a time line so you will be able to prioritize your payments.
Another important aspect of your graduate school application is your educational background. Most grad schools will require you to submit proof of your undergraduate GPA as well as letters of recommendations. Make sure to provide a detailed explanation of your academic accomplishments, your coursework, and your TOEFL/ELTE score in order to properly qualify for admissions. Graduate schools are extremely competitive, so you will need all of your letters of recommendation in order to stand the best chance of admission.
If you don't have experience in your field, it is important that you do not send in only your bachelor's degree. Graduate programs are much smaller than their undergraduate counterparts, which means that . . . . . . you will need to have work experience prior to graduation in order to stand the best chance of being accepted. Admissions committees want to see that you have actual work experience in your field. You can gain experience by volunteering at a local hospital, by working at an internship, or by completing a degree program at an institution of higher learning that offers internship opportunities. Admissions committees want to know that you have actual work experience and can contribute to their institution and they look favorably upon degrees earned through on-campus residency.