The Truth About Graduate School: A Realistic Approach

The graduate school application process often can become overwhelming, especially if you feel like you are completely on your own. If you are graduating in the next year, you’re probably asking yourself, “Does my desired career require a graduate degree? What kind of graduate program should I be researching? Do I want to apply to an in-state or out-of-state school? What happens if I don’t get accepted into my desired program?”

As a graduating senior this year, I am asking myself all of these same questions. To help ease some of your stress and anxiety, I want to share with you a student success story about my former coworker from the Career Center, Shane Henise.

Shane graduated from TU last May with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in LGBT studies. He is a very outgoing individual and passionate about research, especially in regard to the LGBT community. Shane wanted to pursue a career in research after obtaining his Ph.D., so he only applied to schools that offered his desired programs.

“The graduate application process is long and frustrating at times, but reaching out for support was absolutely essential to ensure that I was putting my best self forward,” said Shane.

Before applying to graduate school, Shane had several advisors from the Career Center review his resume, personal statement, and personal essay for each and every school for which he submitted an application. It is essential to tailor each item you submit to the specific university program to which you apply.

To say Shane would have been completely optimistic and hopeful throughout the application process would be a lie. After submitting all of your applications, perhaps the most stressful part isn’t meeting the deadlines, but instead the suspense of waiting for the universities to accept or decline your application. Unfortunately, all of Shane’sStudent Success Story- Shane Henise Ph.D. applications were denied. When this happens, it can be extremely disheartening. One thing Shane learned from this process was the importance of having a back-up plan. Shane was very thankful he applied to a Master’s program as well, which offered him a spot in their program. While Shane was still disheartened that his dream Ph.D. programs did not work out as planned, the Career Center helped Shane through this stressful process by giving the support he needed. Shane learned that things often have a way of working out. Although Columbia University declined his application to the psychology research Ph.D. program, they offered him a spot in their Master’s in Psychology Research program, as they felt this was the better fit for him. Shane already started the program this fall semester.

Some advice we can take away from this story is to begin the grad school process early. Make sure you research your desired schools and programs and be sure you have a range of schools in mind, including your dream (or reach) school(s), your middle option(s), and your safety or back-up plan. For everyone, these plans will be different.

My grad school options are more limited because of the program I wish to pursue, so I will be applying to Loyola University and Johns Hopkins University for their School Counseling Master’s programs. My back-up plan is to find a job after graduation if graduate school does not work out next year. It is important to figure out your options now and remember to keep an open mind. The purpose of this story is not to dissuade you from applying to grad school, but instead help provide you with a realistic insight that sometimes things do not work out as planned. Even if you aren’t accepted into your dream program for some reason, something else will work out, perhaps maybe even for the better!

The Career Center understands how stressful the grad school process can be. Advisors in our department went to graduate school and now have master’s degrees. No matter where you are in the graduate school process, the Career Center staff is here and wants to help you! In addition to online resources and the graduate application appointments offered at the Career Center, there are some upcoming events to help prepare you for the application process. Check our calendar of events for more information on How to Finance Your Grad School Education, How To Write A Killer Personal Statement, and How To Stand Out From The Crowd In The Grad School Admissions Process.

Good luck!

Amanda Sands
Marketing Intern and Public Speaking Intern
Career Center

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