Applying to Graduate School, Part II

In Applying to Graduate School, Part I, I discussed some of the most important factors to consider if you are thinking about applying to graduate school. I focused specifically on researching locations and types of programs. Here I’ll discuss a couple more things to consider, and then give you my personal advice on getting through the application process if you’ve decided to go to graduate school.

I would like to take a moment to discuss the importance of financial aid packages and benefits for anyone who is eligible. I encourage everyone applying to programs to go on to FASFA’S website and apply for aid. It is FREE, and you may be eligible for aid even if you don’t think you are. It takes a little bit of time, but it is absolutely worth it, believe me! You may be eligible for grant, scholarship and work-study opportunities, as well as loans. Spend some time looking at loans and check out the interest rates and conditions. You can also search for outside scholarships and grants independently from FASFA. Your education is an investment, and an important stepping stone to the future you are striving for. It never hurts to see what you might get, and the more time you invest in exploring opportunities, the better off you will be!

It is also important to think about what you want post-graduation. Obviously, you are hoping to have a successful career. Are you interested in teaching, working in a particular area of specialization, or institution? Look into the opportunities for advancement and career placement after graduation, because what you do now will definitely impact what you end up doing after completion of your program. Seek out advice from faculty, staff, artists and professionals in the field(s) you are interested in pursuing. Career fairs, sites such as LinkedIn, and our very own Center for Career and Professional Development are excellent resources for acquiring more information and direction about how to achieve one’s goals after graduation. Networking, hard work and a sense of what you want are crucial to success, and if you take advantage of all the opportunities open to you, your efforts will pay off in the end.

Time To Apply

Determine how many schools you plan to apply to early on, since it’s not cheap, and can help you stay on track. Fees for many of the applications’ supplemental materials will add up, too. Just like in undergrad, keep in mind that it’s not a bad idea to have a “safety” school” on your list, in addition to your dream schools. Make sure to work diligently on your application essay and portfolio, submitting your best work. If you don’t feel confident in your photographic capabilities, consider asking someone you know to photograph your work. The more feedback you get on your essay and portfolio, the better, since different people can pick up on different components and offer a range of advice. Allow plenty of time for your recommenders to write and submit your letters of references. And be sure to thank them for their kindness!

And above all, make sure you attend National Portfolio Day and talk with the representatives of the schools you are considering. They will offer you important feedback and information, which is something you won’t likely get online or through a cataloge, and you may discover a school you hadn’t previously considered.

And last but not least, good luck!

Editor’s Note: This site was hacked and the original content lost in 2014. This article, originally published in 2013, was recovered form a draft version and updated. #lost&found