1 Now What? The How to Get Into Graduate School Workshop Making the decision to go to graduate school is one that requires a great deal of planning and organization. This presentation was designed to provide information, advice, and resources to help you along this process. We hope that you find this information helpful UCF College of Sciences Dr. Teresa Dorman
2 Contents Why graduate school? Selecting your graduate program Programs Offered Support Size and Location Competitiveness Accreditation and Credentials What can I do now? Letters of recommendation Resume and Vita Standardized testing GRE GMAT LSAT MCAT Test taking strategies Study materials Personal statement The application process Admission decisions Paying for it all Fellowships Assistantships Tuition Waivers Successfully competing for $$ Summary
3 Why Graduate School? (1 of 2) Congratulate yourself for completing a bachelors degree and see where a graduate/professional degree can take you! Specialization / Training To focus your area of interest - not just Civil Engineering, but Structural Engineering; not just History, but Ancient Civilizations For licensing or certification required by many clinical professions To teach - to pursue a career as a university level professor requires a PhD; other teaching professions prefer or may require a Master's Diversification How you learned and how you were taught while an undergraduate, will be will be different if you choose to go to another university for your graduate education. A graduate education is more self-directed
4 Why Graduate School? (2 of 2) Personal Interest / Personal Fulfillment Passion for the field or want to contribute to the field To attain recognition Research To expand your knowledge of a specific area that interests you To explore research opportunities that were not available to you during your undergraduate career Employment and Salary Opportunities Diversify what you know, more job opportunities, change your employment situation Advance within your organization: Promotion and salary increases Higher Degree = Higher Salary The U.S. Census reports data annually about income, unemployment, and educational attainment
5 Selecting Your Graduate Program What to look for: Programs Offered Support Size and Location Competitiveness Accreditation and Credentials For more information: Choosing a Graduate School Council of Graduate Schools (pdf) Princeton Review (website) PhDs.org (website) GradSchools.com (website) Timetables for Applying to Graduate School Council of Graduate Schools (pdf) Princeton Review (website) UCF Career Services (website)
6 Programs Offered Do they have what you want? Research the program you are interested in pursuing for free by going to your library, checking on the web (websites or newsgroups) or going to a local bookstore Talk to faculty - both at your undergraduate university and at a university you may be interested in going to... they are an excellent source for information!
7 Support Does the school you're interested in provide the necessary library resources for your area of interest? Are there faculty in the department that share your interest? Does the graduate program provide internship or post-graduate opportunities? Does the graduate program have jobplacement information?
8 Size and Location Size and Location Consider where you want to live for the next two to five years? Type of local and academic community: metropolitan or rural? Weather (this is Florida, by the way...) Visit the school if you can Costs Cost of living, aside from tuition and books How will you pay for it? Fellowships and Scholarships Financial Aid Personal Funds
9 Competitiveness There are those schools that will be long shot and then those that will be a sure thing. Don't limit yourself, if you can... go for both! The range of applicants varies from year to year, so don't discredit your qualifications to a school that you think is too competitive On the same note, don't "place all your eggs in one basket"... just because you have a GRE of 1600 doesn't mean you're guaranteed a spot in the only school you send your application.
10 Accreditation and Credentials Important in some professions, crucial in others (medicine and law, for example) Do your research! It may not be common knowledge: Institutional Accreditation: 6 regional associations that accredit universities and colleges as a whole Programmatic Accreditation: 35 specialized agencies that accredit programs in their specialties Credentials Are they accredited? Do they have to be? Is that important? Do you need a degree from an accredited graduate program to pursue your goals? Will you? What type of institution are you interested in attending? Private? Public? Big 10? Historically Black College/University? International?
11 What Can I Do Now? (1 of 3) If you are currently enrolled or if you ve been out of school for a while, there are definitely things you can do now to strengthen your credentials for graduate school Study Course Selection Research Involvement: Clubs and Organizations Volunteer/Internship/Work Experience
12 What Can I Do Now? (1 of 4) Study: Maintain a good GPA for admission and funding opportunities How you are doing in your classes now (freshmen and sophomores) effects your GPA later. A good GPA will give you a better chance for admission A good GPA will make you more competitive for awards and funding Your study habits now will help you with preparing for the GRE (or other standardized tests) later. Are you a visual learner? an auditory learner? Do you study best in a group? Here are a couple online "test" to identify your learning style: What's Your Learning Style? Index of Learning Styles
13 What Can I Do Now? (2 of 4) Coursework In preparing for graduate school, are there prerequisites that you can (or should) be taking now? Is there an independent study that you can work on to enhance your knowledge of your chosen field? If you are not currently a student, are there preparatory or pre-requisite courses that you can enroll into at a local college/university?
14 What Can I Do Now? (3 of 4) Research Working as a Research Assistant or participating in a study will provide you the experience and exposure to the research process. Additionally, you may be involved in research that interests you, thus solidifying your graduate area of interest. Involvement: Clubs and Organizations Involvement in Clubs, Organizations, Interest Groups, and Honor s Societies show your personal involvement and activity outside of the classroom Roles within these clubs/organizations show your ability for leadership and organization. Were you an officer? This involvement can foster your academic interest and provide networking opportunities
15 What Can I Do Now? (4 of 4) Volunteer / Internship / Work Experience Provides hands-on experience and exposure to work in your field of interest These opportunities may also evolve into employment and will provide networking opportunities Extracurricular activities while maintaining a good GPA show that you have the discipline to balance extracurricular and academic activities. All of your involvement inside and outside of the classroom will expose you to individuals (faculty, supervisors, etc.) who could become a great source for a letter of recommendation
16 Letters of Recommendation (1 of 2) Whom to Ask for Letters Faculty, employer, supervisor, research supervisor, independent study faculty - anyone who can attest to your ability as a future graduate student or researcher. Avoid asking the professor of the course where you had 300+ classmates - do they really know you? Making the Request: Ask those that you know will write a good letter for you. Give them plenty of information (see next page) Give them plenty of time - these letters need to be written according to your deadlines, not theirs Waive your right to review the letter. Depending on who you speak to about this, you will get varying opinions on whether or not to do this. It is my recommendation that you waive this right. It shows you trust the recommendation will be written in your best interest and there is no need for you to review it in advance of it being sent.
17 Letters of Recommendation (2 of 2) Recommendation Packet (click for more information!) Give your letters writers everything they need to write the best possible letter about you. You should consider providing them with: Personal Statement Resume/Vita Transcripts/Audit/Program of Study Deadlines Any of the university's required forms Mailing Addresses, Websites, Addresses (where what needs to go and by when...) If it s mailed, provide them with anything that they need to make this happen (ex: stamped and addressed envelopes) Anything else? Include any additional information that you think will help them write this letter for you, such as assignments from a class you had with them, copies or examples of products you've created or research you have completed, etc...
18 Resume and Vita Resume vs. Vita: What s the difference? Resumes are usually brief (1-2 pages) highlighting education, experience, and skills A Vita (which is Latin for life) provides a greater range of information, in much more detail. There is no specific limit to length Presentation and Organization Take advantage of the services provided by your university UCF s Career Resource Center UCF s University Writing Center It should be neat and legible - don't get passed over for a messy resume, and definitely make sure your spelling is correct! Tailor the document to your audience If you're applying to a research-based program, you'll want to highlight this experience If you're applying to a program that's looking for experience, provide them with a document that gives them this information.
19 Standardized Testing Four Types Tests Required for Admission to Graduate-Level Programs... Most graduate programs require that you take one of the following standardized test to gain admission. Evaluate your comprehension of what you have learned and your preparation for a graduate education. Graduate Records Exam (GRE) Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) Law School Admission Test (LSAT) Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
20 GRE Graduate Records Exam (GRE) for general admission Six sections: Two Verbal (multiple choice) Two Quantitative (multiple choice) One Written Analytical One Experimental Section (verbal, quant, or written) Scoring: Verbal & Quantitative ( scale) Written Analytic (0-6 scale,.5 intervals) The experimental section is un-scored and is included to test questions for future exams. Subject Test Available and possibly required for more specialized programs
21 GMAT Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) Measures verbal, mathematical, and analytic writing skills. Three tested sections: Analytic Writing Assessment Quantitative: Problem Solving, Data Sufficiency Verbal: Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension Scoring: Verbal and Quantitative ( scale) Analytic (0-6 scale,.5 intervals)
22 LSAT Law School Admission Test (LSAT) Assesses reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and verbal reasoning. Six sections: Two Logical Reasoning section (LR) One Reading Comprehension section (RC) One Analytical Reasoning section (LG) One Writing Sample One Experimental Section (LR, RC, or LG) The overall score (normalized scale of ) The experimental section is un-scored and is included to test questions for future exams.
23 MCAT Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) Assesses problem solving, critical thinking, written analysis, writing skills, and knowledge of science concepts and principles Four tested sections: Physical Sciences (PS multiple choice) Verbal Reasoning (VR multiple choice) Biological Sciences (BS multiple choice) Writing Sample (WS 2 short essays) Scores range from 3-45 for multiple choice and the essay is rated on an alphabetical scale from J (lowest) to T (highest). The MCAT will change with the 2015 testing season
24 Test Taking and Strategies How do YOU study best? Study for this just like you would any other test - but keep in mind that this is a comprehensive type of test that has specific focuses. Determine the areas that you need to concentrate most on and focus your study efforts accordingly. Consider the Financial AND Time Commitment of a fee-service that prepares you to take a test. Registration fees and study materials can be costly Time needed to complete the study course (most are several weeks) Registration and Test Locations How soon before your application deadline should you register for the test? When will your scores actually arrive at the university? Know where you re going and what your test-taking environment will be like - the less stress you have surrounding taking the test, the better
25 Study Materials Software / Books / Courses / Workshops Do your research before you lay down any additional money Courses and Workshops: Financial and time commitments How much does it cost? (some study programs cost as much as $ ) How long will you need to take the course - 3 weeks or 3 months? Outcome measures Did those who completed the course actually improve? Or would they have improved their score anyway by simply re-taking the test? Free Materials SARC (Student Academic Resource Center) offers free practice tests to UCF students. OPPA (Office of Pre-Professional Advising) offers practice MCAT tests to preprofessional students. Various websites provide free information and practice tests - you may be able to find everything you need to study on the web. Check out your Library or Bookstore Finally, Your Department or Your College's Graduate Office will have information about preparing for these exams.
26 Personal Statement (1 of 5) Writing Your Way into Graduate School: The Personal Statement Personal Statement Writing If it isn t hard, you re doing it wrong This is not a document that you'll "bang out" overnight, write it, set it aside, read it, revise it, and revise it again... Limited Length You don't want to write a novel of your personal history, focus on the intent of what you're writing, and why... Broad Writing Prompts Prompts are the questions that you need to answer as a part of your application Identify the questions being asked and how you want to respond to them Some graduate programs simply ask for a "personal statement", a "statement of intent", or a "statement of research" without specific questions Your Task: Setting yourself apart What makes you different from everyone else? What makes you the best person to select for their program?
27 Personal Statement (2 of 5) First priority, consider the prompt If you were provided with specific questions, read them multiple times. Make sure you understand what's being asked and how you should answer it Note what you are required to address, versus what you may address Don't provide a long essay that has no guidance or direction, make sure you've addressed what the graduate program is asking If you were asked for an open-ended essay, design a strategy that emphasizes your strengths and highlights what sets you apart from others. When did you become interested in your chosen field? What specific experiences furthered your interest in this graduate program? What are the most compelling reasons for School X to be interested in you? What personal characteristics, skills, etc. will enhance your prospects for success
28 Personal Statement (3 of 5) Personality, a sense of uniqueness The personal statement can be the most important part of the application The application asks all the routine questions The Letters of Reference provide someone else's perspective of you Your Transcripts and Scores are the numbers the university needs The Personal Statement is YOUR document... Give personal, relevant information Don t ignore your weaknesses explain them away Have you faced any unusual hardships? Are there any snags in your record that you should explain away? Describe plans, goals, and dreams concretely DO NOT begin with: "I want to be a doctor because I want to help people" or some similar statement. This has been written (many times) before... Give a reason: What or who inspired you? When was the turning point of discovery for you?
29 Personal Statement (4 of 5) Specificity: Details, Details, Details Use specific examples Avoid broad statements that could apply to anyone Elaborate on items glossed over in application Concretely describe experiences that strengthened your interest in your given field Refer to relevant experience Avoid information that does not fit into the scheme of what's being asked DO NOT simply restate material already provided as a part of your application. The application will provide your test scores and GPA Your transcripts provide your grades Your resume provides your educational history What else can you talk about?
30 Personal Statement (5 of 5) A second opinion You have written it, now it needs to be read by readers who know you (family, friends, etc), to determine if the writing reads like something you would say. by readers who don t know you (faculty, consultants, etc) to determine if the writing is correct, you ve answers the questions, or you provided information that is relevant and important. UCF's University Writing Center consultants can assist with writing and reviewing. Brainstorming or overcoming writer s block Planning and organizing the personal statement Help with finding your unique hook Ensuring that the question(s) has been answered Provide helpful texts and writing samples Be sure to go to the University Writing Center's website for a number of helpful handouts that will assist you in writing your personal statement.
31 The Application Process When you are ready to start applying, be certain to: 1. Note Deadlines 2. Stay Organized 3. Contact the program Add a voice to your file, or if possible visit (a face to the name... ) Every question you have (or that you have asked your self while reading this presentation) is a question you should be asking the program Be courteous to the person who answers the phone - you will probably have the most one-on-one contact with them, and your interactions with them may influence how you are perceived within the department 4. Things to do before mailing or submitting your application: Make sure everything that needs to be there, is there Is everything spelled correctly? Are there some things that are submitted separately? Do you know where to send them? Continued next page
32 The Application Process When you are ready to start applying, be certain to: 5. Have your letters of recommendation been submitted? About a week before they are due to the institution, a good way to follow-up is to ask the letter-writer if they are in need of any additional information to complete your letter. Asking this provides them with the opportunity to let you know if it has already been completed (or to remind them that it needs to be done...). 6. Do you know how to follow up with the graduate office to ensure that everything has been received?
33 Admissions Decisions Has There Been a Decision on Your Application? Don t know? Call and ask when the program is expecting a decision to be made. Admission Offers: Multiple Offers Compare admission packages and use their competing offers to your advantage Acceptances If you accept and offer, treat it like a contractual agreement. Understand what you are agreeing to (tuition and living costs, non-academic requirements/commitments, award offers, employment offers, etc). Most institutions request that you accept or decline their offer by April 15th... If you are admitted, make sure you READ the relevant sections of the university's graduate catalog and the program's manual Rejections: Unless you have solid, document evidence of something that was evaluated incorrectly, you should not challenge a rejection. You can (and probably should) find out what you could have done to provide a stronger portfolio so that your next application may be better prepared
34 Paying for it All Types of financial support Fellowships Assistantships Tuition Waivers Student Loans
35 Fellowships Fellowships are similar to scholarships. These awards are usually based on academic criteria intended to support your graduate education. Check with your graduate program to find out about university, college, and program awards. Awards can also come from the government, and local and community agencies. For more information about Fellowships Opportunities, make an appointment with your College Graduate Coordinator, or a UCF Graduate Fellowship and Financial Services officer. To research other types of fellowships: Office of Prestigious Awards (website) UCF Graduate College Fellowship Information (website)
36 Assistantships Working for and with your program Often when a program is evaluating an applicant for admission to their academic program, they are also evaluating the applicant for potential employment as a student researcher or teacher. Graduate Teaching (GTA) Teaching lab sections or providing assistance with grading or lecturing Independently teaching a course under the direction of a faculty supervisor (usually requires additional training prior to your standing in front of a classroom) Graduate Research (GRA) Assist with a faculty project or reserach Funding for assistantships may come from various sources from individual faculty (usually with grant funding) or from the program, department or university.
37 Tuition Waivers What you don t have to pay for Who gets waivers? Waivers usually accompany employment (assistantship) or a fellowship. The amount of the waiver may depend on the Department, College, or University s budget, the hours of you are employment, the number of classes you are enrolled into, the level of your assistantship, and other factors What might a waiver cover? Matriculation (Tuition or Class fees) Non-Resident (Out-of-State fees) Other fees (ex: Athletic Fee, Student Activity Fee, Health Fee) If you are offered a tuition waiver find out the actual dollar amount that you ll be receiving (not a percent (%))
38 Successfully Competing for $$ Check and university Fellowship Databases. Know the deadlines Financial and admission deadlines may not (and probably won t) be the same Organization is key Know the Rules/Guidelines Have you provided everything requested in the application? Do you need to ask for information, application items from other? Are you pursuing every available opportunity?
39 Summary Choose the program that is right for you Prepare for graduate school during your undergraduate career Present organized and complete information Research funding opportunities Take advantage of resources and services
40 Please visit the University of Central Florida's Online Graduate Catalog for information about our graduate programs.
41 GOOD LUCK! I hope that the information we have provided here has been helpful. Remember that every question that you had while looking through this presentation is an excellent question for you to ask of your new or potential program. I would like to especially thank the following people for helping to develop this presentation: Dr. Jaysharee Shivamoggi, Kristin Root, Michelle Sudar, Darren Crovitz, Kristy Smeltzer --Dr. Teresa Dorman Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Services College of Sciences This presentation is offered on a nonexclusive basis. You may print items from this presentation for noncommercial use as necessary. The information provided within may be presented or distributed as long as Teresa Dorman's name and contact information is included. 407/ ,
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Applying to Graduate School STEM 3 Guidebook May 2011 Introduction Applying to graduate school can be a complicated and lengthy process. Once you decide that a graduate degree is for you, you face numerous
The college admission process is an integral part of the total experience of a SST education. The Department of College and Career Counseling (DCCC) recognizes the vast diversity in students and families,
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SFX: Commercial Soundtrack STU: There s nothing like it. Walking across that stage knowing you ve graduated and you re ready for the next step. Whether it s a job or continuing on with your education Ivy
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GRADUATE SCHOOL Tips & Strategies Visit the online version of this guide to access hyperlinks. Is Graduate School for Me? It s important to evaluate your reasons for wanting to go to graduate school. Unlike
1 Your Options Carls, Smith, Lorenzini GUIDE TO JOBS AND GRADUATE SCHOOL in HISTORY (8e) PART FOUR : GRADUATE SCHOOL You may decide to embark upon graduate study right away, or to pursue graduate school
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All Things Considered for Students Applying to Graduate Programs Normally during the second semester of your junior year, you should begin thinking about where you might want to attend graduate school.
Admission Process Master of Arts in Secondary Education with Licensure Program University of New Mexico College of Education The University of New Mexico Secondary Education Program offers a Master s Degree