Preparing for Graduate School: A Five-Step Plan

GRADUATE STUDIES | QUICK READ

Preparing for Graduate School: A Five-Step Plan

Congratulations on taking the next step toward furthering your education!

Graduate school can be a wonderful experience, giving you the skills you need to advance your career or advocate for a higher salary. Yet for all of its benefits, grad school also can be intimidating for people entering their first year.

Don’t fret. Here are five tips to help as you are preparing for graduate school:

1. Review the curriculum

If you are anxious about that first semester, reviewing what lies ahead may help ease your worries. While professors may not post entire syllabi or course materials online, most schools have a list of required courses and possible electives associated with each degree. Review these materials beforehand and, if necessary, do any preparatory reading to get yourself to a place where you feel comfortable entering the classroom (or logging on to your student account) for the first time.

2. Research the professors

Want a glimpse of the possibilities your degrees might bring you? Look into the backgrounds of your future professors. They’ve likely studied the same fields that interest you, and their previous jobs, published articles, or other experience can help you map out your future career path. If you find a professor has done something you’re particularly interested in, that may be a great person to network with!

3. Review the school’s resources

  • Which academic journals can you access through the library?
  • Who at the school is able to help you when you are stuck?
  • Where do you go for study assistance?
  • Who is willing to lend an ear when things get tough?

As you're preparing for graduate school, remember every Elmhurst College graduate student has a program director to help them through school.

Knowing these answers before starting grad school will save you from panicking when you need them most. Elmhurst College has a variety of resources for students, including program directors who serve as mentors. If you have a question about which classes you should take or just need someone to listen, our program directors have your back.

4. Get ready to network

Networking is one of the best ways to make the most out of your graduate school experience. Cultivate strong relationships now, and you’ll have a group of people to rely on as your career takes off.

To make sure you’re ready, read a few books or articles about networking. Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. are all great resources.

5. Write down your professional goals

You likely had an idea of what you wanted to accomplish in grad school when filling out your application. Now is the time to dive deep into what that degree can do for you. Use resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook to see what sort of jobs are available with your master’s degree.

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Posted August 24, 2018

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