It’s never too early to think about graduate school

Whether you’re a straggling senior or a budding freshman, it is never a bad time to consider your post-grad options. Most students plan to vacate the educational system the second their bachelor’s degree is slapped into their eager hands. But, for those “lifelong students” who are glued to the system, here are some facts, courtesy of the Office of Career Development, to get you started on the right track.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. April Klimkiewicz, assistant director of Career Advisement and Pre-professional Services, suggests that, ideally, students should begin preparing for grad school well before their senior year.

“Start as early as possible. You don’t want to wait until the last minute. You want to submit your application on time, have all of your letters of recommendation, your personal statement, and your resume and cover letter ready to go. You’ve got to start early,” said Klimkiewicz.

Starting early also means requesting applications, scheduling campus visits, updating your resume, and taking note of your grad school’s fellowships and research assistantships to cover some costs.

Do your research. Find the right school for you and gather information about the program of study you are interested in. Note what the requirements are for admission, which admissions test is needed and the cost of tuition. Begin putting together your portfolio.

Start thinking and preparing for your admissions exams. The most common standardized tests for graduate school are the GRE, GMAT, LSAT and MCAT.

Ask for letters of recommendation. Usually students are intimidated by the letter of recommendation – but fear not, your professors are there for you, along with the Office of Career Development. In a few easy steps, you will be able to scratch this off your grad school to-do list.

Give your professors a date when the letter is due. Consider telling them an earlier date as to not jeopardize your admissions deadline, and give them at least two weeks notice before you need the letter of recommendation. Include a paper or project you completed (one with a high score, of course) as well as your final grade to remind them of your hard work done in their class. Let the letter writer know why they were asked; tell them who else is writing a recommendation for you. When possible, try to provide the name of whom the letter will be sent to. It looks much better than “To whom it may concern…”  Tell the writer your long-term goals and how the program you are applying to fits into those goals. Your professor will need to know what your plans are in order to write on your behalf.

Most importantly, remember to thank your letter writers. They took the time to help you out. Send thank-you notes and keep in touch. You have now begun to network.

These are just a few tips the Office of Career Development offers NSU students regarding their education. Students can also log onto Sharklink and subscribe to “Career Undergraduate” tab for easy-access, online tips.

“Another great resource is for students to actually go and talk to the departments here at NSU. We have so many great programs available. Students could call and chat with someone from our graduate schools to find out more information about the programs from the people who actually are a part of the admissions team,” said Klimkiewicz.

Remember to check out the Office of Career Development for more information on graduate school at www.nova.edu/career. To schedule an appointment, call (954) 262-7201 or email career@nova.edu.

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