Applying to Grad School


Most professional positions require some advanced training. But do some REAL thinking before laying down time and money for grad school.  This is something to research, not to leap into. Your goal should be to stay out of debt as much as possible by making intelligent, reasoned choices.

Current economy has resulted in more people going back to school.  That means acceptance rates are more exclusive and there are more competitors in the job market. Quantitative entrance minimums will be enforced. Your application package must be polished.

Choosing a place to go to graduate school will take some time and effort. There are a few choices to make that may seem odd because students tend to concentrate on the content of school program's. But keep in mind: 1) geography -- unless you're pursuing an academic career, many grad students find their first jobs in the area of the country they lived while earning their degree, thus, think about whether this is someplace you want to live; 2) culture -- what are the people like in the town/state where the school is located? Seriously, trying to be in the wrong culture can make one miserable and frequently students don't realize it is the environment making them unhappy; 3) $$ -- sorry to keep harping on this, but money really does matter. You don't need a six-figure income to be happy, but living under the weight of debt that your profession cannot pay off comfortably is very stressful.

Great thing about an undergraduate psych degree is the flexibility associated with it.

You also have terrific options to play with whilst enjoying your 20s -- 

(remember -- there will never be another time where you will enjoy the magical combination of energy, lack of lifelong commitments, education + flexibility to do just about anything [you haven't received much specific training in anything yet], and tolerance for different lifestyles)

Personal Portfolio Assignment  

The Professional Portfolio helps you to put together a successful job and/or graduate school application package. There are 3 elements to this assignment.Whether you use them all right away or over time, you will at least have produced a model for what needs to be done.

  1. A Personal Statement -- the admission's essay in which you craft the story of yourself with respect to why you chose your field and how you imagine your professional future.
  2. A Resume -- this is a CSD career-oriented resume with appropriate academic information, written in a "functional-chronological" style. (Please note: It is common to need a resume when applying to graduate school, too, especially when you're interested in funding, internships, or research opportunities.) 
  3. A Cover Letter --  the all important introduction of self that showcases why your skills and aptitudes are the perfect match to an organization's needs 

For a complete portfolio, you will also need the following items:

  1. A job description of an actual position that you'd like to get and could reasonably apply for, and a paragraph explaining why you want this position. This may be a paid position, internship, research, or volunteer opportunity. While it is ideal to choose an actual position you'd be interested in, you may also write a prospective application to an organization that you'd like to work for.
  2. A paragraph or two describing the mission, goals, values of the graduate program you wish to attend, with a copy of their personal essay/statement question (if you can get it). This info may be copy and pasted from the Web.

Please turn in all materials in a simple two pocket folder, with the job description, explanation paragraph, resume and cover letter on one side and the grad school information and personal statement on the other. Please go for the el-cheapo $.49 cent folder; you will get it back, but I'd hate for you to drop $2.50 on a fancy UF folder.

The Graduate School Timeline -- some considerations!

"Graduate school, then, is quite different from undergraduate school. It takes longer, it requires much more focused and sustained work, it involves much more intensive relationships with faculty and other students, and it makes considerably greater demands on your personal identity. You can get through your undergraduate education, if you care to, without ever really thinking about who you are or what you want to accomplish in the world. In graduate school, though, your personal identity will almost certainly undergo great change. In particular, you will acquire a particular sort of professional identity: you will become known as the person who wrote such-and-such a paper, who did such-and-such research, who refuted such-and-such theory, or who initiated such-and-such line of inquiry. This process can be tremendously satisfying. But it's definitely not for everyone."


Elizabeth Town College

University of Puget Sound

Bed, Bath, and Beyond (no kidding!)


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