When Grad School is for You – Just Not Right Now

By: Meg

I’m graduating soon, and with that comes a lot of thoughts about the future. I’m going into Social Work, so while I know grad school is going to happen, I’m not ready to apply yet. Even though you might not be filling out applications with your fellow grad school bound classmates, there are still some ways to prepare for it.

Grad School not right now

Research

Look at the programs that you’re thinking of applying to: check the website, talk to current and past students, and talk to professors if you can. You want to learn what they’re looking for in a student. This could affect your job choice in the interim. If your programs are looking for specific experience, you should know that now.

GRE

A lot of grad schools require GRE scores, and some of them require subject tests. Your GRE scores are good for 5 years after you take them. If you’re planning on applying to grad school within that time period, it might be a good idea to do this testing while you’re still in school mode. It also gives you a definitive deadline for when you’re going to apply.

References

Grad schools LOVE reference letters. Take a look into the grad schools you think you’ll apply for. Chances are they want 2 or 3. When you’re out in the workforce, you’ll want to make a good impression on your supervisors. Now, however, is a good time to get a reference letter from a professor or advisor who you think would help your application. Ask them if they feel like they could write you a (good) letter, and keep it on file. Keep in contact with this professors or advisors once you are done with undergrad. Let them know what you’re doing and where you are in the process when you finally get to applying to grad school. At that point you may want (or need) to get an updated letter or reference form – you want your UMD contacts to still be a good reference for you.

Deadlines

Set some deadlines for yourself. Tell yourself that you want to apply in 3, 4, or however many years. Then prepare for that. Don’t commit to a job that isn’t going to go anywhere for 4 years when you’re planning on leaving in 2. This isn’t set in stone, and if, while you’re out in the world, you decide you don’t need (or want) to go back to school, then no harm done.

One of the best ways to prepare for grad school while you’re not in college is to get out of school mode. Grad school is intense, no matter what the program is. So while you’re taking time off, get some experience out in the world. Whether that means working a “big person” job, or taking some time off and traveling, just do it.

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