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Sharaya’s 5 Tips to Graduate School: Series One

Sharaya S. is a first year graduate student majoring in Education at Wayne State Univeristy. Join Sharaya as she hosts a three part series blog giving tips and personal experiences on how to successfully transition into graduate school!

5 Tips for Grad School Success: Series 1

So you have an interest in Graduate School? You’re contemplating if additional schooling will make a difference in your future. Why take it now when I can take it later and other doubting, curious questions. Before I give you awesome advice, let me tell you a little about why I applied to graduate school. Like many aged out foster care youth attending college I’m a first generation college graduate. First attending Wayne Community College (Detroit, MI) before transferring to Wayne State University, I have always been better at school than anything else. I enjoy school and when I graduated in May 2017 I still didn’t quite know what I wanted to do in life as a career. I started to ask people around me if a master’s degree was worth it to them… and more people said yes than no so I applied and got in.

I just completed my first semester as an Education major specializing in Learning, Design & Technology. Now I will share with you 5 Tips for Grad School Success, a three part blog series. One and two will be part one of the series. Three and four will be part two of the series. And part five will be part three of the series! Now what? If you’re thinking about enrolling in graduate school without taking time off (like I did) I would start with step one.

Step 1: Investigating:  Do some investigating – think prep period.

  • Does my career path need a graduate degree?
  • Can I commit to the time, financial obligations and interest of continuing school right now?
  • What do you love to do? (Your interests)
  • What are you good at? (Your skills)
  • What do you like to spend your days doing? What is your long term goal? (Your values)

Think about other options:

  • Employment is a huge reason many people attend grad school.
  • Some jobs in today’s job market only require a high school or bachelor’s degree but that’s usually just the minimal requirement. You have to make the decision if pursing a masters degree would be beneficial to your overall outlook whether it be for financial stability, educational or personal gain.

Start early… junior or senior year:

  • Where can you see yourself working in 5 years? Think outside the box
  • Do you want to stay in or out of state?
  • Attend college fairs in and around your main residence, go to conferences to meet other people who may or may not have a master’s degree, compare to gain feedback

I personally wanted to enhance my experience with something new. I choose education because I always loved school. Being a teacher would be a great career to make a meaningful difference in society but still would leave me time for summer, weekends and family holidays.

 

Step 2. Get advice

Thinking that graduate school will be just like undergrad is a huge reality check. Be aware of the commitment you are thinking about. When looking into grad school the first question that you should try to answer is why… Why do you want to go to grad school?

Talk to multiple advisors. Much like getting a diagnosis from a mechanic… always get a second opinion. Never forget you have access to an academic advisor. Your advisor is there to help with any questions you may have regarding programs, research, faculty issues, cost, etc. There are scholarships, financial aid, work-study, stipends that can help you with the cost of attending graduate schools.

Internships The more you experience pre-graduation of undergrad or post-graduation, the more likely you are to find your way. It pays to know sooner rather than later if corporate life is not for you or if being in the great outdoors is what makes you smile; think about if you love a creative, artsy environment versus a structured corporate environment.

Fellowships Don’t forget about them! If your advisor doesn’t have the answers for you, research fellowships that might be able to point you in the right direction of a contact who will. It’s even advisable to set up a meeting with someone to check in and see how things are in that field (shadowing), so many students neglect to do this.

Research and review loan options

  • Bank Loans Interview Advice: always be professional, always research the company and who you are meeting with, always show up a few minutes early, always know what options they have and why they should approve you.
  • Are you eligible to support the program without state or federal loans?
  • Set a budget for the cost of tuition and know what’s too high to pay for a degree.

 

Stay tuned for steps 3, 4, and 5 of my blog “Tips for Grad School Success!”

If you would like to know more about Sharaya, listen to her FSM Student Strength Story on our podcast series and follow her on Instagram @texasbabii_.

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