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Graduate School


You asked about graduate school and we have answers. Click a question to see what SciMON says!

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Deciding if grad school is the right thing to do:

Applying / Admissions

Preparing for graduate school success now

Preparing for graduate-level research

Succeeding while in graduate school

 

 

 

Deciding if grad school is the right thing to do

  • What do I need to do to be sure if graduate school is the right next step for me?

    SciMON Says: Ask your advisors and professors questions if you are unsure about going to grad school – they can give you valuable insight into what their day to day jobs are like. This can help you determine if that job seems right for you and if grad school is the logical next step.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • What if I’m not sure if graduate school will get me the job I want?

    SciMON Says: Talk to, intern with, or get a job doing something related to the job you ultimately want to do. For example, consider shadowing actual clinicians at their practices, hospitals, or institutions before you apply to medical school. This will help you determine if you like the job and if grad school is the logical next step toward achieving that job. You will also have the opportunity to develop a good enough rapport with the clinician you shadow – you can then ask them for a recommendation letter.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • How difficult is graduate school?

    SciMON Says: If you are worried about grad school being too difficult, know that anyone can master graduate work as long as you give it the necessary time and are passionate about the subject matter on which you choose to focus.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • If you are not sure about a PhD program, what do you recommend? Going for it or taking time off?

    SciMON Says: If you are unsure about what program to go into or about grad school in general, TAKE A YEAR OFF after you graduate before diving in. Take that time to work in a related field to ensure that you will like the job you wish to get once you have the graduate degree needed to get that job. Take that time to research graduate programs thoroughly – visit campuses, converse with their faculty, correspond with graduate students in those programs. Basically gather as much information as you can over the year in order to make the most informed decision you possibly can about where to apply and if you want to go. You also may want to take the time to do things that you have not yet had the chance to, and won’t have the chance to once you are committed to a graduate program (i.e. travel, building a family, etc.). Just don’t lose sight of your goal, if graduate school is definitely something that you eventually want.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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Applying / Admissions

  • How difficult would it be to enter a post-grad program if I am not academically excelling?

    SciMON Says: There are many ways to show you are a good grad school candidate even if you are not succeeding academically. GPAs and GREs are less important than the research questions you are interested in, the recommendation letters written about you, and your CV of experiences that directly relate to your interest in going to grad school.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • How early should you apply?

    SciMON Says: Submit on time (half the battle) – early is even better because often times things go wrong with the application (recommendations get lost, missing a form, etc.).

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • What is the best way to ask someone for a recommendation?

    SciMON Says: Make it as easy as possible for her/him to write the letter for you. Give them ample time and provide them with information about what to write.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • Should I choose a graduate school with a good reputation?

    SciMON Says: Submit application to schools that have faculty you want to work with – know what they research and make sure there is at least one, if not many, good matches between your research interests and theirs. Your grad school success and future success will not depend on the school’s reputation, but the training you get from the faculty that are the best fit for you. If you can find a faculty member that matches your interests before you submit, contact her/him and get her/him excited about the prospect of working with you. Faculty make up most grad admissions boards, so you want this faculty member to be a champion for you on the admissions board. Chances are s/he will be one of the faculty deciding on your acceptance, so you want her/him to be an advocate there for you.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • I can’t decide which programs I should apply to, help?

    SciMON Says: If you are having a hard time decide which program is the right one to apply to or go to – try making a spreadsheet of the pros and cons for each program. Also consider which programs have a professor who you really want to work with – are they doing the research you are interested in?

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • Does it cost money to apply?

    SciMON Says: Most schools do have application fees, but some don’t. Keep in mind that applying costs money - factor in application fees and travel costs for visiting the campuses for interviews.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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Preparing for graduate school success now

  • What do I need to do academically to best prepare for graduate school?

    SciMON Says: Learn how to learn while you are still an undergraduate. You want to already be a skilled learner by the time you get to graduate school so that you can apply those skills when you get there.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • Are you able to be financially independent as a graduate student?

    SciMON Says: Concerned about money? Graduate school can be expensive, yes. But there are usually many different ways that you can pay for it. There are scholarships, work opportunities, fellowships, and more. Typically a graduate program will offer you a package that includes tuition coverage, stipends, and other benefits that may include opportunities to do research and teach as you earn your degree.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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Preparing for graduate-level research

  • How familiar do I need to be with a field of study before I apply to a program in that field?

    SciMON Says: Know the research topic you are interested in – have a good understanding of what questions have already been asked and answered and what questions have NOT been asked/answered. If you don’t feel well-prepared enough, you lack of preparedness will show through in your application. Take time off to get to know the field better—take courses in the field, get a job as a research assistant to a professor in the field, shadow a clinician in the field, etc.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • Do you recommend doing international research to gain more experience? [RESPONSE COMING SOON!]

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Succeeding while in graduate school

  • Should I spend time fostering friendships with other graduate students?

    SciMON Says: Focus on networking with other grad students, your peers – collaborate with them because they are the ones you will be working with in the future (not your old professors/advisers)

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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  • Should I focus on completing my courses and the required work and just finishing?

    SciMON Says: Take as many opportunities as possible to present your work at conferences, apply for travel grants, and publish as much as you can outside of your required work in your program.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Graduate School Preparation panel at Hunter's 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference

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