The purpose for this blog is to provide accurate information and advice to all those College and University students out there who are thinking of, or in the process of applying to grad school.
My experience as an academic advisor, has taught me time and time again, that a large majority of students have serious misconceptions about what graduate school entails and whether it is the right path for them. In order to be able to answer this fundamental question, students need to know what graduate school entails. Graduate school is not an automatic step following an undergraduate or similar degree. It also does not entail the same requirements as does an undergraduate degree. Rather, a masters or Ph.D. degree requires much more independent thinking and in general a much more independent working environment as well. Most undergraduate degree programs are aimed at providing students with a broad understanding of a discipline and the career options that are available within that particular field, but some of them do relatively little to actually train you for a great career. Graduate programs, on the other hand, are aimed at training and developing independent specialists, researchers, scholars, professionals, etc. In most cases, a graduate student spends less time in a classroom when compared to an undergraduate degree and much more time working in the field of study, such as internships, or much more time in a laboratory, doing research to meet thesis requirements.
Graduate school is a lot like a job. You can think of it as a temporary job, one that lasts several years. Most graduate students receive a salary while in school and more importantly, there are many more opportunities for grad students to earn money while in school than there are as an undergraduate. These include scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, teaching and research assistantships and more.
There are many advantages of obtaining an advanced degree, including the ability to work on something that is meaningful and interesting to you. Prestige and financial incentives may also be relevant factors, as well as enhancing career opportunities and practical skills. Although graduate school may not be a realistic choice for everyone, you owe it to yourself to at least give it some consideration.
Next topic: So you’ve decided to go to grad school… that’s great! Now you need to apply.