Early Preparation for Grad School
Many students begin thinking about graduate school as early as their freshman year in college. Getting an early start puts your student in an excellent position to begin preparing for admission. There are a number of factors involved in the grad school admissions process, regardless of the discipline.
Most schools require some sort of standardized test, including the GRE, PRAXIS, LSAT, or MCAT. Many people need to take these tests more than one time to obtain an acceptable score. Graduate schools also require letters of recommendation from professors and supervisors who have observed the student's work. In addition, students will probably need to compose some sort of personal essay outlining why they want to attend graduate school.
In addition to the tasks mentioned above, there are a number of smaller things involved such as requesting transcripts, proofreading, requesting and filling out applications, and exploring financial aid options. After all of this work is done, there are still interviews to prepare for.
Students who begin exploring graduate school early may save themselves time and energy later on. They can begin looking at different programs and really targeting schools they like. There is time to contact faculty and possibly visit different campuses. Also, students who start early may have additional time to build relationships with mentors, professors, and supervisors who will help them in the process. They will have more of a chance to study effectively for the required tests.
The bottom line is that the graduate school application process is taxing and it's easy to get overwhelmed with all of the details. If your student can invest time and energy early in the process, it may help their stress level at crunch time.
Susan Dutcher, MS, MA
Graduate Student, Doctor of Clinical Psychology Program