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A Guide to Applying for Grad School

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Attending grad school could put you at an advantage over other candidates in the job market or even open up new career opportunities. However, making the leap to go to grad school is a big decision. You’ll need to prepare in advance to ensure you find the right program for your career goals — and to increase the odds of being accepted by your top choice.

Decide When to Apply

Many students apply to grad school right after they finish their undergraduate degree, but others wait until they’ve gained some experience in their industry. Depending on the field you want to enter, a master’s degree or PhD may be a necessity before you can start working. Alternatively, grad programs may require candidates to have experience in their field before they apply. You’ll need to do some research to determine what applies to your situation.

Narrow Down Your Options

There may be numerous schools that could potentially meet your needs — but you won’t want to apply to all of them. Create a shortlist by considering what exactly you want to study and whether you’re more interested in learning in the classroom or conducting your own research. Also consider whether the prestige of the school will matter when you’re applying for jobs. To come to a final decision about where to apply, request more information about each program and perhaps pay some campuses a visit.

Make a Note of Dates

Create a calendar of key dates for each program you want to apply to. This may include when you need to pay the application fee, send your personal statement, transcript, and application form, and take any entrance exams. Give yourself plenty of time before important tasks like writing essays.

Figure Out Funding

You’ll need to find a way to pay for grad school and support yourself while you’re studying. Research possible loans and scholarships and calculate a budget to ensure you have sufficient finances.

Craft a Compelling Application

Grad schools want to see more than just a high GPA. Use your application to explain why you’re interested in the program and how you’ll use your education after you graduate. The admissions officer will often want you to demonstrate your interest in the subject you want to study, such as through work experience, volunteering, or internships. Finding a position as a research assistant for one of your professors can be helpful for this. If you don’t quite meet the program’s educational requirements, it may be worth seeing if you can take some additional classes.

Gain Strong References

You’ll also need other people to vouch for you through references. Work on building closer relationships with your professors, become part of a professional organization, or seek a mentor.

Apply Early

There’s no need to wait for application deadlines to approach before you apply for a program. In fact, since most schools use rolling admissions, applying early will mean someone reviews your application as soon as you’ve submitted it, which increases your odds of securing a spot.

Once you’ve been accepted to a grad school program, you’ll need to find somewhere to live. Since you won’t want to live on campus as a graduate student, your best option is to search for rooms for rent. Waterloo students can join a community at King Street Towers. As well as a private bedroom, you’ll have access to amenities like a fitness centre and study spaces. Plus, you can request a unit with an en suite bathroom or private balcony. Apply now to ensure you receive the floor plan you want.

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