The Quest for Graduate School

Leilani Pecher –

For many students, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree is not just about earning a degree, it is about self-discovery. This discovery has taught us about ourselves and helped us figure out what kind of person we want to be. This, I believe, is one of the most important aspects of pursuing an undergraduate degree.

In high school we learn about what we are interested in and during our quest for an undergraduate degree, we become more aware of our interests. We also may take many courses that help us discover which subjects and topics we have a special passion for. Once we learn more about ourselves and our interests, those who want to pursue an even higher-level education can start thinking about graduate school.

It is never too early to start thinking about graduate school. An undergraduate degree prepares students for graduate school when students want to pursue a Master’s or Doctorate degree. If you happen to be a freshman in college, don’t worry about not having a major yet. However, towards the end of sophomore year, you’ll want to figure that out.

If you decide that graduate school is not for you, that is not a bad decision either. It is not always for everyone. However, if you have recognized your interests and have specific aspirations, researching graduate schools with specific programs will only help your career path.

If you are on the road to graduate school, I have compiled information from magazines, pamphlets and the informational session held by Susie Drake from Career Services. Here is a short list of tips that can help you prepare for your graduate school path.

1)      Do your research

According to a pamphlet by Gradschools.com, your graduate school research needs to be far more in-depth than your search for an undergraduate school was. If you were anything like me in high school, the only thing that mattered was if the college I was considering offered my major. I didn’t do any more research and I didn’t feel the need to either. This mentality needs to change for graduate school. Research on specific programs needs to be done, which also leads to my next point.

2)      Check which entrance exams you need to take

Based on which program you will pursue in your field and which school you decide to attend, that will influence which exams you need to take. There is the Graduate Record Exam, popularly known as the GRE, which is often required for the arts and sciences in graduate programs. This includes both a general test and a subject test.

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or the GMAT, includes a standardized test for those who want to pursue a business degree. This is universal to assess an applicant’s qualifications. There is also the MCAT, or the Medical College Admission Test, for all you biology majors out there. The MCAT includes a wide range of skills to be tested and is required by almost all U.S. medical schools. The GRE, GMAT and MCAT are only a few out of the various types of entrance exams.

Please do the research to figure out which test you need to take by at least the summer after your sophomore year or the beginning of junior year.

3)      Plan accordingly

This includes making campus visits if possible, and researching how you can pay for graduate school. It is expensive, unless you are able to obtain an internship or job that will allow you to take courses for free or at a discount rate. This also includes having a part-time job that provides a stipend. This is the ideal situation for graduate school.

However, if you need to take some time off and save up for graduate school, that is also another helpful strategy. Graduate school, just like many other paths that people take in life, may not be easy but definitely worth it.

People have different paths in life. Whether you are planning on working right out of college, or pursuing your graduate degree, just make the most of your experience.
Leilani-Jade Pecher, from Lakewood, Wash. is a junior double-majoring in Communications and Management and Organizational Leadership. Leilani is the Director of PR & Advertising and writer for The Rambler. She is the Vice-President for the Coalition for Ethnic Awareness, PR for Enactus, and a member of several clubs.

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