The decision to apply for and attend graduate or professional school should not be taken lightly as it is a considerable investment of time, energy and money. The Career Services Office is available to assist St. Norbert College alumni with any part of the graduate school process. Use the following information and resources to:
- determine if graduate school is right for you
- research and choose a graduate program
- identify the steps necessary in applying to graduate/professional programs
Is Graduate School Right for You?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How might graduate school affect my career or professional plans?
- Will the graduate degree enhance or narrow my employment prospects?
- Do I want to go full-time?
- Should I continue to work full-time and go to school nights or weekends?
- Do I know exactly what discipline I want to study?
- Will the specific area of study help me in achieving my career goals?
- Will a master's degree be enough or will I need a doctorate?
- Do I have the time and energy to devote to graduate school?
- Where will I choose to go?
- How will I finance it?
- Will attending graduate school increase my job prospects and earning capacity or will it push me further into debt?
- Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Graduate Program
- Admission Standards
- Cost/Financial Aid
- Multicultural/Diversity Opportunities
- Physical Facilities
- Reputation/Ranking/Quality of Program
- Research/Academic Focus
- Employment Opportunities
- Surrounding Community
- Learn about Graduate and Professional Schools
- Admissions Tests
- The most well known admissions tests are the GRE (Graduate School), GMAT (Business School), MCAT (Medical School), and LSAT (Law School). Not all graduate programs require admissions tests, so be sure to read the admissions requirements when researching graduate programs. Plan to take test well in advance of the admissions deadlines.
- Admissions Test Links
- Personal Statements
Professional/graduate schools usually require Personal Statements from their applicants. These may also be called Admissions Essays, Statements of Purpose or Mission Statements. Some scholarship applications also request a Personal Statement. The purpose of a Personal Statement is:
- To show your interest and to demonstrate your ability to write clearly
- To indicate that you are qualified for graduate studies
- To show your understanding of how a particular graduate program is right for you by focusing on the skills and experience you offer and the career direction it will lead you toward
Start writing your statement early, long before the deadlines so you have time to rework it. Brainstorm ideas, write an outline, write, edit, rewrite, get other’s opinions, and then edit, edit, edit…Make sure you proofread for any grammar, spelling or punctuation errors to ensure the content is all relevant and the writing flows. The key to a good personal statement is for it to be personal, persuasive, concise and compelling. Begin with an outline that covers:
- Your educational background
- Experience - work, volunteer, community service
- Skills and interests related to your career field
- Strengths, weaknesses, personal characteristics and accomplishments
- Personal, educational, and career goals
- Motivations for the area of study and the influences in your life
- Challenges you have faced and/or extenuating circumstances you need to explain
- Uniqueness - how are you special, distinct, different, impressive
- Compelling reasons for you to be admitted to a program
- Why you are interested in attending a particular program
Check out additional information on writing personal statements from Purdue University and UC-Berkeley.
- Financial Aid
Fellowships: On the graduate level, fellowships are equivalent to scholarships. They are monetary awards given on the basis of scholastic record. The funds are generated either from an institution's own endowment of current income or sponsored by a private foundation, industry or the government. Catalogs outline institutional fellowships and directories identify other sponsors of fellowships. Ask departments about applying for fellowships.
Assistantships: Individual departments award teaching assistantships (TAs), research assistantships (RAs), and program assistantships. You work part-time while pursuing your studies. A stipend (a small amount of money) serves as a remuneration and sometimes tuition remission (exemption from paying tuition) is granted. Inquire within the departments.
Resident Assistantship: Residence hall directors or graduate resident assistants work in the residence halls while pursuing their graduate studies. Usually, compensation includes tuition remission, a stipend and housing. Some programs offer credit.
Long Term Educational Loans: The federal government offers low interest loans which you begin repaying several months after graduation and repay over a long period of time. The Perkins Loan Program and Stafford Student Loans are among these. A special application for financial aid and/or a loan is usually required. Check with the financial aid department and local banks for information.
College Work Study: Institutions offer part-time employment to students who demonstrate a need for financial aid.
Other Employment: Most communities provide opportunities for work. Check with the Career Center at the institution you will be attending.
Please contact Career Services with any questions regarding the graduate school planning or application process