Is it for me?
The decision whether or not to pursue more education via graduate school is an exciting, but challenging, thought process. As is the case with any major life decision, students thinking about committing to graduate school need to do a realistic assessment of the pros and cons of what graduate education can do for them. The Career Services staff can help you work through many different questions that you’ll need to ask yourself before making the commitment to pursue further education.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What are your career goals?
- Where do you want to be in five years? Ten?
- Is a particular graduate degree necessary to get there?
- Is graduate study a common requirement in your chosen field? Talk to people in the fields you are interested in. How did they get there? Is graduate school the only or best route to the career you want?
- Have you considered other options? Compare your options. These include going directly to graduate school, working for a year or more (gap time), traveling or exploring for a year or more, or working in lieu of graduate school.
- Have you gained any hands-on experience in your chosen field? Internships, summer jobs or mentorships within your field will test your interest and strengthen your application. Some graduate schools prefer applicants who have a year or more of applied experience (i.e. – MBA programs).
Regardless of the decision you make, the staff in Career Services want to help you make the decision that is best for you.
Money for graduate study comes in a variety of forms. Keep in mind that deadlines for financial aid applications are generally earlier than regular admission deadlines, so be sure to research your options well in advance.
GraduateSchool.com is an excellent link to begin your search for financial assistance. This site reviews basic requirements, the process, and links you to additional funding sources.
COS Funding Database: Search the world's most comprehensive funding resource, with more than 25,000 records representing nearly 400,000 opportunities, worth over $33 billion.
Graduate Fellowships: Be sure to ask each program to which you apply for information on financial aid. Ask if other offices might have information (the Financial Aid Office). Opportunities are available, but it is up to you to find them.
Graduate Assistantships: Assistantships are provided by the university in return for service or work, typically on a half-time basis (20 hours per week). Oftentimes, funding is based on financial need, academic merit, or appropriate experience, and the amount varies from providing a full or partial tuition waiver to a monthly stipend, or both.
Types of Assistantships: Assistantships include, but are not limited to, teaching assistants (teaching undergraduate courses on apart-time basis) or research assistants (created to carry out research assignments under the supervision of faculty members). Sometimes a research assistantship can be used to meet requirements in a degree program. Residence Life, Counseling, and Student Affairs assistants do a combination of administrative work and counseling or advising. Residence Life assistantships often require that you live in an undergraduate dorm and often offer room and board, in addition to a tuition waiver and possibly a stipend.
Additional Financial Aid Sources:
- Administrative internships are provided in return for administrative services. They are also awarded based on such things as financial need, academic merit, or appropriate experience and the amount varies from school to school.
- Loans are available through banks, government agencies, and special loan funds at the university.
- Military funding is available in exchange for future military service.
- Employers: Some employers have reimbursement programs for employees who continue their education in a field related to their employment.
Acquiring money for graduate school is often easier than you might think.The money is out there; the challenge is finding where. One of the most useful sources for beginning your search is Career Services. Our library has an excellent collection of printed guides to fellowships, scholarships, and other types of financial aid and staff to assist you in this endeavor.