I often find when talking with prospective students about graduate school, that they wonder what it is like and if it might be right for them as their next step. Many applicants to a graduate program are basing their decision to attend grad school on their undergraduate experience. While some elements are similar, many are not. For example, a student attending graduate school should expect to be very self-motivated and driven because much of the requirements set out by the professor will involve individual learning often determined by individual research interests or projects. Professors expect a high level of thought, writing ability, and critical thinking in any graduate program. My experiences show that most graduate students who enroll complete the program successfully as they are motivated in their particular field of interest.
There are many types of graduate programs; hence, a prospective student must research multiple programs of interest to know what best fits their interests and lifestyle. For example, a student wanting a very traditional graduate program, often leading to the Ph.D., might want to consider a conventional program where they often take classes during the day and work at a university as a research assistant or teaching assistant. Other programs are less traditional and offer classes in the late afternoon, evenings, and on weekends for working adults. Others are fully on-line programs, and still others are a mixture of on-line and on-ground designed for working adults. In addition, a prospective student should always look at the program in terms of whether it offers the types of courses and requirements he or she is interested in – as well as the quality and reputation of the department and university. Depending on a prospective student’s personal life and working life, it’s crucial he or she chooses the program that meets his or her needs and fits his or her lifestyle.
Angela L.E. Walmsley, Ph.D., Associate Dean – Academic