So you want to go to graduate school?
Best time to enter a grad program? The fall of the year.
Why is that? Funding (TA/RA lines, grants) for grad students usually begins at the beginning of an academic year — this could include any combination of a stipend and tuition waiver.
Should you take time off after undergrad? Depends really. Some programs look at newly graduated undergrads, and some programs don’t care… Going right from undergrad keeps what you have learned “fresh”…less of a chance to unlearn what you know.
When should you apply? If you want to be considered for funding, most application deadlines are in December and January for the following fall. In other words, if you wanted to begin grad school in fall of 2009, your application materials would be due in December of 2008 or January of 2009.
What do you need to apply for grad school?
• GRE’s — best taken in the fall, a year before you plan to begin school. You will have to take the General GREs for sure, and possibly the Subject GREs depending on the program you enter. Think of the general GREs as an advanced ACT or SAT test. Have an idea of where you want to go before you take the GREs, as you will be asked “where do you want your result sent”…I think they can be sent to 4 or 5 institutions at no additional charge. Visit http://www.gre.org/splash.html.
• Application form — many application forms are now online…but you can print some off, fill them out and mail them in. Application forms are for entrance into the school’s grad school…you have to also be admitted into the grad program for the department you are interested in.
• Letter — saying “what I want to do, why I want to do it, and why I want to do it at your university in your graduate program”
• Letters of recommendations — these should (preferably) be from faculty that you know…this one of the best reasons to get to know your undergraduate profs…and brown nose. Recommendations from non-academic referees do not carry much weight, unless they are super relevant to the program of study you are applying for.
• Application fee — can range from $35 to $75 per application, depending on the school.
LinksUMD Grad school web page http://www.d.umn.edu/grad/
TC Grad school web page http://www.grad.umn.edu/
Grad School web page http://www.gradschools.com/