Going to Graduate School?
Graduate and Professional Schools
Some say that going to graduate/professional school is not for everybody…Well, that’s a matter of opinion, the individual, and the circumstance. If you believe in the principle of lifelong learning, then this is an option you may have to consider sometime in the future.
Is there a difference between a graduate school and a professional school…very little.
The former focuses primarily on the production of original research, the latter on specialized training. Both usually require taking courses and writing a thesis/dissertation to accomplish each.
Why Go To Grad School
First of all, the primary purpose for going to either is to become more skilled in a particular field of interest. Once you complete your bachelor’s degree, then your next level of learning is a master’s degree; PhD category is the highest level.
Different disciplines have different names, for example, arts and sciences—doctorate of philosophy, PhD; business, M.B.A.; medical degree, MD; law-JD, just to name a few.
Some people go onto graduate school right after getting their bachelor’s degree. However, most take a break from schooling, moving directly into the world of work to gain more practical experience.
If you have included going to graduate school into your life plan…We will let you in on a “little secret”. Generally speaking, graduate school is easier than undergraduate school.
Now, why is that so, you may wonder. Most undergraduate programs require at least 60 or more liberal arts credits in addition to your major courses in order to fulfill your institution’s graduation requirements. Liberal arts courses span the whole spectrum of human knowledge, often introducing you to many subjects you either like, tolerate, hate, and/or find just plain useless, or so you think at the time.
In graduate/professional school, there are fewer required liberal arts courses, and, at the master’s and PhD level, most of the courses are discipline focused like education, law, medicine, engineering and so on.
Going to Grad School
You can go to graduate/professional school either full time or part time, depending on the school and your program (s) of interest. Yes, many graduate programs require entrance examinations, but don’t hyperventilate over that prospect.
If test taking is one of your challenges, then meet with the graduate/professional school admissions counselor and have a chat about how much weight the school places on that particular test score. Different programs have different admission standards and criteria, so its best to go directly to the source and ask the questions that concern you.
Your undergraduate academic and career advisors can be tremendous assets for you in seeking out this information.
If you have been out of school for a while and have not maintained those relationships, then speaking directly with the graduate/professional admission counselors in the schools/programs that you are considering is your next best option.
Things to consider about Graduate and Professional Schools
- Full or part time attendance.
- Program flexibility—completion time limit.
- Work-Life balance.
- Advisor-advisee relationship philosophy.
- Entrance test anxiety – Consider taking one or two courses as a non-degree seeking student (Special Student status) to demonstrate academic capability. Earn no lower than a grade of “B”. Then apply for degree-seeking status.
- Be aware that graduate/professional school grading scale is different than undergraduate; graduation grade point average (GPA) is usually 3.0 or better. Remember, this is about demonstrating your subject expertise and any grade lower than a “B” is usually insufficient.
- Check corporate/organizational, educational benefits.
Before making that final decision—question, question, question!