Alumni Graduate School Assistance
Why Attend Graduate School?
Many people choose to return to the classroom for personal development; others for professional advancement. In any case, graduate school will open many doors for you in your career. Before deciding that graduate school is your best option, check with family and friends to be sure you have the appropriate support system needed to complete this task. Be sure that the reward for completing this goal outweighs the things you will need to sacrifice to complete another degree. Most importantly pray and ask for the Lord's guidance in your decision.
How Do I Decide on a Graduate School?
Once you have decided to attend graduate school, look for programs with excellent reputations. For some applicants, choosing a graduate school is an exact science of GPA and test score comparisons, reading through mountains of catalogs, and contacting students, faculty, administrators and alumni at possible schools of interest. For others, it is a matter of applying to those few "worthwhile" schools and taking their chances. Most applicants fall between the two extremes and require a bit of logical soul-searching in order to match personal and professional needs with the offerings of each graduate program.
- Ask former professors for their recommendations.
- Talk to alumni who attended the schools that interest you and ask if they would go to those programs again.
- Attend information sessions provided by the school or program.
- Meet the faculty of the prospective programs; are they published?
- Is there enough financial aid available?
- Would you want a job with the type of organizations that recruit this school's grads?
- Does the school emphasize research, theory or practice?
Note: The national ranking of graduate schools is not a very specific science. Remember that the criteria for ranking graduate programs may not necessarily be the same as how you would rate the program. Many resources are available for offering suggestions on the best programs, but be sure you are aware of the criteria for the ranking.
For graduate school information on the web, check out the following sites:
How Do I Get In?
The following are standard prerequisites to a graduate program:
- Test scores
- Letters of recommendation
- Application fee
- Personal statement/essay
- Attend an interview
Remember to apply early. Many schools operate on a rolling admission schedule. You have a better chance of getting into the school of your choice if you apply early!
- Allopathic and Osteopathic Medical School: Take the MCAT no later than the spring before you plan to apply.
- Dental School: Take the DAT
- Veterinary School: Take the VCAT
- Optometry School: Take the OAT
- Law School: Take the LSAT no later than the October before you plan to enter.
- Graduate School: The GRE general exam is administered by computer several days a week at approved centers around the country. It is also administered by paper and pencil three times a year. Make sure your scores are received by the time your schools of interest begin to evaluate applications. Note that most graduate programs in the sciences, and programs in other disciplines such as psychology, sociology, music, history, English literature and others, require that you take a subject test as well as the general exam. Subject tests are only paper and pencil based and are offered three times per year.
- We recommend purchasing the POWERPREP software if you plan on taking the GRE. It is an excellent study tool and allows you to practice taking the exam!
- Companies such as Kaplan can assist with test preparation.
- The Millers Analogy Test (MAT) is another general examination accepted by many graduate programs. This paper based assessment can be taken at a number of designated locations in your area.
- Business School: The GMAT is only administered by computer in the U.S. and is offered several days a week at approved centers. Make sure you take the exam early enough so that your scores arrive by the time your targeted schools begin to evaluate applications.
Letters of Recommendation
Requirements for graduate programs often vary. Generally two to three letters of recommendation will be required for admittance. It is suggested that letters come from former professors, employers and community members. It is very important to acquire the strongest possible recommendations from individuals who can attest to your work ethic, dedication to the field of study and community involvement.
- Approach faculty and others with whom you have had a good relationship. Do this several months before you will need the letters.
- Tell them of your intentions to apply to graduate school and ask if they know you well enough to write a letter of recommendation. This gives them the opportunity to bow out should they feel uncomfortable in any way.
- At least six weeks before the letters are due, provide each person with a copy of your essay, a resume, the recommendation form and a stamped addressed envelope.
- Check back before the application deadline to be sure that all letters have been submitted.
All graduate programs require personal statements or letters of intent for admittance to graduate school. Before starting, be sure to understand who you are and why you have decided to pursue a graduate degree. In the letter you must set yourself apart from the mountain of other very qualified candidates and convince the admission committee that you will be an excellent investment for their program. By distinguishing yourself through your story and setting yourself apart from other applicants, you will make yourself memorable.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What is unique or distinctive about yourself? What is impressive about your life story?
- Have you overcome any unusual or unique hardships in your life? How did you deal with and overcome this adversity?
- What are your career goals?
- What are the most compelling reasons you can give to the admission committee to be interested in you?
The Campus Career Development Center is available to review your personal statement on a time available basis. To contact a campus career counselor please call (949) 214-3042 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
All graduate and professional programs require official transcripts from every post-secondary institution you have attended. Contact the registrar's office early and allow at least four weeks for your request(s) to be processed by the schools you attended and sent to the recipients. A nominal fee is usually charged for transcript requests. Contact the Registrar's Office to find out how to request Concordia University transcripts.
Interviews are often required to be admitted to a graduate program. Admission representatives want to be sure you are a "good fit" for their program as well as articulate and poised. Prepare for your interview by being well informed about the faculty and their recent publications. Be aware of specific teaching theories or schools of thought taught within the school or program. Be well informed about your area of study and be prepared to discuss recent developments in your field of study. Dress as you would for a professional interview and arrive early!