Preparing for Graduate School
It’s never too early to think about graduate school.
If you hope to land a career in psychology that requires an advanced degree, you’ll want to handle your undergraduate academic career seriously enough to compete for a spot in a graduate program in psychology or social work.
Psychologists are people with terminal degrees in the field; that means a Ph.D. or Psy.D. You can obtain master’s level licensure with a M.A. or M.S.W. or use your master’s degree to secure a position in education or research.
You will need to write a personal statement for most graduate school admissions processes. It helps to get information from a few different programs to which you might apply so that you can start formulating a personal statement. Always have a faculty mentor look over your personal statement and make suggestions for revisions.
Most grad schools are housed in larger colleges and universities. Always contact the graduate program in which you have interest directly. The more interaction you have with the program, the more likely you are to gather information about how good of a fit it might be. Arrange to visit the program. If distance is not prohibitive, you can pick up and drop off application materials in person. This may allow you an opportunity to chat with students in that grad program, as they are your best resources. And, if you wind up interviewing there, and they tell you that students don’t have any input into the admissions procedures, know that students might not need to be granted formal input in order to have influence!
Don’t waste your time and money (application fees can be hefty) by sending in an incomplete application package. You’ll probably need to take the GRE’s (Graduate Record Exam) or similar entrance exam (i.e., Miller Analogy Test) for graduate school. It helps to obtain practice materials. The website http://www.gre.org has many helpful hints for test-takers. Take your tests early, as you can retest if you have enough time before deadlines for applications.
One of the biggest regrets that people who do not make it into graduate school tend to have is that they did not take their studies serious enough prior to applying to grad school. Remember that all you do academically, including community involvement, clubs, practicum, work study positions, etc., all reflect your potential as a grad student. It’s never too early to start being the kind of student that graduate programs would love to accept… and maybe even support financially with assistantships.