Ask a counsellor: Freaking out about grad school

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I know that my plans after graduating include going to grad school… but that’s about it. What do I need to do??

Grad school is a popular subject around this time of year, particularly because many applications become available in November.

The first step is to make some time to actually think about your decision to enter a graduate program. Are you actually interested in the field? Are you able to afford tuition for the length of the program? Are you willing to move elsewhere if the program that fits best is not available locally?

Many students are concerned that if they don’t go to grad school, they will have fewer chances at getting a job. As with all areas of career development, it is important that you put some time into researching the realities of your field – there are more and more jobs available that put greater emphasis on volunteer and part-time work experience than on formal education or training.

Once you have made the decision to apply…

– Search for key contacts at the schools you are interested in – are there any faculty members who teach/research an area that appeals to you?

– November is a great time to start asking professors if they would be OK writing a reference letter – be sure to give your references lots of time (at least six weeks)!

– Get personal – start asking yourself questions about your motivation to learn, what your future goals are, and why grad school is a valid option. This will help you to form a rough draft of a personal statement/letter of intent, a crucial part of the application process.

– Speak with a mentor or career counsellor throughout the process, especially if you are feeling “lost” or “stuck” along the way. Having another perspective is extremely important.

– Above all else, research the deadlines for all parts of your application(s). Figure out what needs to be done by when and work back from there to set smaller goals for yourself.

As per usual, feel free to talk with a counsellor about any issues you may have! If you have a question for a counsellor, you can also e-mail it to sjcounsellor@unb.ca, and see it featured here!