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As a graduate student, you will face challenges that differ from those you experienced as an undergraduate. You might need to write a CV, want to know about an academic interview, or need specialized job search assistance. You may possibly find that you are no longer interested in the career path that you are currently pursuing. We can help! Also check out 10 Tips to Surviving Grad School.
Consultants are available to help you with any career-related questions. Whether you are interested in discussing your options with a particular degree, want to change your plan of study, wondering about jobs after your graduate degree, or just interested in exploring your interests, our career consultants are here to help. Login to Handshake to make an appointment now!
Graduate and professional schools often require some sort of written statement -- often called a "statement of purpose," "personal statement," or "letter of intent"-- as a part of the application. Some statements require rather specific information--for example, the applicant's intended area of study within a graduate field. Still others are quite unstructured, leaving the applicant free to address a wide range of matters. The importance of the statement varies from school to school and from field to field.
Be sure to answer any questions fully. Analyze the questions or guidance statements for the essay completely, and answer all parts. Graduate and professional schools are typically interested in the following matters, although the form of the question(s) and the responses may vary:
Above all, this statement should contain information about you as a person. They know nothing about you unless you tell them; you are the subject of the statement!
There is no such thing as the "perfect" way to write a personal statement; there is only the one that best fits you! When constructing your unique personal statement, try to keep the following tips in mind:
If you're going to use these words, be prepared to go into specific detail. Don't use them unless you're ready to give concrete examples to explain them!
If you need some help figuring out what to write, login to Handshake to make an appointment with your career consultant and come up with a plan.
Once you have done a draft (or two or three!), show it to people you trust, such as faculty, advisors, family, friends, supervisors, etc. The best people to review your statement are those who know you well and have excellent writing skills. If you want to improve your writing, visit the Writing Center. Writing assistants can help with all aspects of the writing process, from brainstorming and organization to questions of grammar and usage.
Graduate school is a big decision and should be researched thoroughly before applying. Below are some frequently asked questions to get you started in evaluating your interests and needs for graduate school.
Graduate school constitutes an advanced program of study focused on a particular academic discipline or profession. Traditionally, graduate school has been "academic" (centered on generating original research in a particular discipline), but it may be "professional" (centered on developing skills and knowledge for a specific profession), or a combination of both.
Compared to undergraduate studies, graduate school is a more concentrated course of study and expectations regarding the quality and quantity of your academic work are greater. Graduate programs also entail:
Meet with your college’s Assistant Director for Career Development to help you figure out if Graduate School is a good next step for you.
It depends on the type of graduate program you wish to attend. Some fields are broad and do not require any particular undergraduate major (ex. law or MBA school). Others require only a few courses in the graduate field of study (ex. psychology graduate programs often require statistics and experimental psychology courses). Some programs require a core set of prerequisites (ex. medical or physical therapy school). Some very technical programs may require a degree in the field or substantial coursework (ex. engineering) . In many cases, you can be admitted even if you haven't taken the prerequisites; you will complete them the first few semesters of graduate school. Sometimes, you will need to go back to school as an undergraduate to take your prerequisites. This is usually the case if you are switching academic fields to an unrelated area and need to show aptitude in the new field (a history major wanting to get a Ph.D. in biology).
Ask your professors to write letters for you before you graduate. Tell them you will be attending grad school at a future date and will send them the addresses later. The professors can keep the letters on file for you until you apply. Many professors will give you a copy of the letter even though you waive the right to see it. To help the professor tailor a recommendation for you, give him or her a resume or list of highlighted activities and skills that you would like mentioned in the letter. Also, remember to send the professors a thank you note!
The OSU Graduate School provides a lot of information on their web site about graduate study at OSU. They can direct you to graduate advisors, graduate students, and professors.
Graduate and professional school interviews can take various forms: one-on-one meeting, group interview, campus/faculty visits, panel interviews, and/or phone interviews. Many interviewers ask behavioral questions (i.e., tell me about a time...) and scenario questions, so be prepared!
Below are some general guidelines that can help you prepare for any type of interview:
During the Interview
Need some interviewing tips? Click here for more information!
Personal Characteristics / Skills / Strengths:
Leadership/Teamwork/Problem Solving Skills, etc.:
Field-Specific Questions & Current Events:
You will undoubtedly encounter questions that related specifically to your chosen field of study. Be certain that you are aware of current trends, issues and controversy in your field so that you will be able to answer questions intelligibly. Below are a few examples:
Questions Applicants Might Ask an Interviewer:
Asking questions not only helps you as a candidate determine the “fit” of the program with your desired academic and career objectives, but it also communicates to the selection committee the extent of your interest in their program:
A career in academia is an option for some, but it is not for everyone. In fact, many career options exist in industry, government, and non-profit industries for master's and Ph.D students. Login to Handshake to search for non-academic jobs now!