Graduate School Admissions Workshop This workshop has been developed to help you navigate through the graduate school admission process to enter an advanced degree program that will help you achieve your career and personal goals. Whether you are looking into a program in medicine, law, science, humanities, social science or computer technology, this workshop has pointers to help with your application process. Topics in this workshop: Are you sure you want to go to Grad School? Choosing programs and schools Entrance requirements Tests Graduate essays and letters of intent Interviews Portfolios Auditions Decision process Application timeline Are you sure you want to go to grad school? Many students and alumni wonder if an advanced degree is the best course of action for their next career move. It’s important to remember that graduate school is a major personal and financial investment. Before you embark on this new adventure, ask yourself these questions: What do you hope to gain from an advanced degree? How will a graduate degree enhance your career development? Are you willing and able to commit the time, money and energy to apply for admission and complete the degree? Have you figured out how to juggle graduate school with your existing responsibilities? Answering these questions requires an objective estimate of the costs and benefits of advance education along with a personal assessment of your career aspirations and needs. Some information that may help will be occupational information from the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the ONET. You will also want to assess financial aid information from Regis Financial Aid and the US Government when you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Making a checklist of commitments and resources may help you to see how graduate school can fit into your schedule. Plan carefully how to pay for graduate school using a budget estimated with this worksheet. Some of the typical reasons people seek advanced degrees are: Career change Professional advancement Teaching at the college or university level Love of knowledge or desire for expertise in a field Enhanced salary possibilities Making oneself more marketable in a competitive economy If you are clear about your career goals and know that an advanced degree is the best way to achieve them, then graduate school may well be in your future. This online workshop is designed to help you make the most of the graduate school application process. Career Counseling If you are uncertain about your goals or whether an advanced degree is the best way to realize your dreams, there are several steps you can take to clarify your purpose. The Regis online workshop on Career Decision Making may help you sort out your career goals. You will also want to set up an appointment with a counselor at Regis Career Services. Along with career counseling, Regis offers personality and interest assessments that often help students and alumni gain focus in forming career goals. Appointments can be kept in person at any Regis campus or over the telephone via toll-free number. All Regis students and alumni can make an appointment by contacting Career Services at 303-458-3508, 1-800-388-2366 x3508 or email Career Services. Choosing Programs and Schools You will want to apply to more than one program. Many students apply to two or three schools in which they are most interested and an additional program where they are fairly certain of acceptance. Any school where you apply should be one you'd except an offer from, so you will want to know is much about each program was possible. Ask yourself these questions about the schools you are considering: How closely related is this program to your field of interest? How many students are in this program? And how many faculty members? Is the school or program well known? Is it in a location that is close to where you would like to live? Is the program offered online, if an online course might suit your needs? Is the program available to part-time students if needed? What is the cost? What types of financial aid are available? Does the program offer teaching or research assistant positions or fellowships for graduate students? Who are the lead faculty of the program and what are their credentials and publications? Are there particular faculty members who have published books or articles about your specific areas of interest within the field? How is the program funded? What are the entrance requirements? Are your GPA and test scores close to their requirements? The Regis University Academic Programs page provides information on Master’s Programs in: Accounting Business Administration (multiple areas) Organizational Leadership Non-Profit Management Datebase Technologies Information Assurance Information Technology Management Software & Database Technologies Software Engineering Systems Engineering Communication Adult Education Education Criminology Counseling Marriage & Family Therapy Psychology Social Sciences Nursing, including Nurse Practitioner Health Service Administration Health Information Management Self-designed Master of Arts degree Regis also offers Doctoral programs in Physical Therapy and Pharmacy. Another option in Regis graduate programs is a wide range of Graduate level certificates. These certificates usually consist of 12 to 18 credit that can be applied to a master's degree. Peterson’s Guide to Graduate and Professional Programs is available in most libraries and is available free on the web. It is an easy way to discover graduate programs in your field of interest. You can search from a menu or do a keyword search that will bring up specialized concentrations within programs and related programs by state, country and Masters or Doctoral level. The best and most up-to-date source of information will always be each school’s own web page. Other online resources include: Grad Schools.com Search geographically and by major for masters, doctorates and graduate certificate programs, as well as study abroad opportunities, online degree programs and fellowships. Grad Source Get detailed information on schools representing these programs: Business, Engineering, Fine Arts, Health, Science and Teaching. Access detailed profiles, compare schools side-by-side and request application packages. PhD Rankings Rates programs based on the factors you choose including faculty credentials and student demographics. US News and World Report College Rankings The free online version has some information. See the hard copy edition in the Library for more information. Entrance Requirements Carefully evaluate the requirements for each program of interest. You may want to apply to a few schools where you are fairly certain you will be accepted and a few that you prefer, but where the entrance requirements are more stringent. Entrance decisions generally are based on a combination of one or more of these criteria: Transcript Grade Point Average Related Undergraduate Major (or perhaps minor) Test scores Letters of recommendation Essay or letter of intent If you lack any requirements, look into taking prerequisites before you apply or enrolling as a non-degree student in the program. Official Transcript Many of the necessary requirements can be demonstrated in your undergraduate transcript. Most colleges and universities require a sealed official transcript, usually from all the undergraduate programs you attended. Some programs will want the transcript included in the application packet; others will want it sent directly. GPA Graduate school entrance requirements may include a minimum Grade Point Average. Some guides to graduate programs give an average or range of GPAs for entering students. When reporting your GPA, give the scale. Some schools use a 5.0 scales, although most use a 4.0 scale. (For example: GPA: 3.67/4.0.). Related Undergraduate Studies Some programs require a related major, minor or particular undergraduate coursework on your transcript. If a required course sounds like a class you took, provide the course descriptions from both programs to see if they might match. Test scores Many graduate programs require prospective students to take assessment tests as a predictor of success in graduate school. Information and registration packets are available in the Career Services Library or available online. Official scores are sent directly to the programs you specify. The test is usually administered on a computer, although some sites may administer a paper test, and is offered in multiple locations in every US state and many foreign countries. If you have special needs due to disability, let your test site know. Disability accommodates can be made at selected test sites. GRE Graduate Record Examination – Programs in Mathematics, Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities often require prospective students to submit GRE scores. There are three sections to the GRE. Verbal Reasoning - tests your ability to analyze relationships between words, phrases, concepts and ides in written text from a range of subject matter. Quantitative Reasoning - measures your skills in mathematics, algebra, geometry and data analysis. Analytical Writing - assesses your writing and critical thinking skills. The GRE also offers a variety of subject tests, which some programs may require. Registration, fees, sample tests and further information. MCAT – Medical College Admission Test - The MCAT is an all-day test with four sections: Verbal Reasoning – reading comprehension and analysis Physical Sciences – Chemistry and Physics Writing Samples – Two 30-minute essays Biological Sciences – Biology and organic chemistry Go to the MCAT page For more information about this test, to register and to order tutorials. DAT – Dental Admission Testing Program – This test gives a high correlation between test scores and grades in Dental School. It is usually administered at a Sylvan Technology Test Center. Some information about this test is available on the American Dental Association website. The DAT has four sections: Natural Sciences – Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry – 90 minutes SPerceptual ability – Shapes, angles – 60 minutes Reading Comprehension – Read, organize and analyze new information – 60 minutesThirdBulletedItem Quantitative Reasoning – Algebra, arithmetic, scientific notation, conversions to metric, probabilities, statistics, geometry, trigonometry, word problems – 45 minutes Download the test guides from their site. LSAT- Law School Admission Test – The Law School Admissions Council- has excellent information about the LSAT, as well as links to law school rankings, program web sites and admission information. Law school applications are usually kept by the LSDAS (Law School Data Assembly Service) that provides reports to schools with your application information and an academic survey that you fill out when you register. The LSAT consists of five 35-minute sections testing reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning, followed by a 30-minute writing sample. The LSAC site provides sample questions, registration and practice products for purchase. GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test – Business programs often require GMAT scores as part of the application packet. There are three sections to the GMAT. Verbal Reasoning - tests your English language comprehension. Quantitative Reasoning - measures your skills in arithmetic, algebra, and understanding of graphic data. Analytical Writing - assesses your writing and critical thinking skills. Free preparation software and registration information is available at the MBA.com site. Letters of Recommendation Most graduate programs require letters of recommendation. Schools usually ask for three letters from a mix of faculty and employers to help them assess your prior success in school, work and related activities. Set up a brief appointment, in person if possible, with each person from whom you want to ask for a letter. Explain the purpose of the letter and describe the requirements of the graduate programs what will receive it. Most people writing letters for you will appreciate a little information about the programs. Bring a resume and an unofficial copy of your transcript for them to review if they like. Most of all they want to know about your goals and reasons for applying to graduate school. All this information will help them write an effective letter. Some graduate schools want a recommendation form filled out or specific questions answered in the letter. Many schools will want the letters sealed, with a signature across the seal. Some will want the letters sent with the rest of the application packet. Others will want the letter sent separately. Fulfill the requirements for letters of recommendation exactly as they are stated in you application packet, including method of delivery. Ask one more person for a letter than the requirements of your program specify. That way, if someone does not get around to writing the letter, you have a backup. Be sure to send thank you notes to everyone who writes a letter of recommendation for you. Stay in touch with them and let them know where you are accepted. Graduate School Essays / Letters of Intent / Personal Statement Frequently the graduate essay is the most challenging part of the application process. Every graduate program has unique requirements for essays and letters of intent, but most schools require these writing samples for several common reasons. Because graduate school grades are based largely on written papers, the essay is another predictor (along with GPA and test scores) of your potential success as a graduate student. The essay usually addresses your reasons for attending the program. Your personal statement helps them determine if the program you are applying to actually meets your needs and aligns with your goals. Your commitment to the professional outcomes of the program and your maturity will be evaluated. The committee reviewing your essay will be looking for the unique contribution you bring to the program. Ten Tips for writing an outstanding graduate essay: The most critical part of writing a successful essay is to carefully read and closely follow the essay instructions for each school for length and content. Some schools will want a brief statement, others will want a longer essay, and some school will require several essays on different topics. You may be able to re-use parts of essays to meet the requirements for different schools, but assume that each essay will be a unique document. Create a working draft to revise before typing anything on the essay part of an application sheet. Be clear, direct, honest and concise; don’t ramble. More is not always better. Make a strong, confident case for your participation in graduate school. Demonstrate your unique qualities. Avoid clichés. Your work should be original so, unless specified, avoid or limit quotes. Use your own writing style without slipping into slang or sloppy grammar. Keep your tone positive. Use the essay to demonstrate your knowledge of and enthusiasm for the program and profession. This is not the place to make excuses for mediocre undergraduate grades or low test scores. Check you work carefully for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as coherent paragraph and sentence structure. Type or word process the essay; do not handwrite it. Have it reviewed by an advisor, instructor and/or career counselor for spelling, grammar, format and content. Be sure to give them a copy of the essay guidelines. A counselor from Career Services can help you review your entire application packet prior to submission. Links to examples: Admissions Essays: - This is a fee-based service, but includes some free samples of business, law and medical school essays. Personal Statements and Application Letters (via Indiana University) The Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst. Writing Center Graduate School Essays Printed resources: Asher, D. (2000). Graduate Admissions Essays: Write Your Way into the Graduate School of Your Choice. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley. Baer, E.A., et. al. eds. (2003). Essays That Worked for Medical Schools: 40 Essays from Successful Applications to the Nation's Top Medical Schools. Ballantine, NY. Curry, B et. al. eds. (2003). Essays That Worked for Business Schools: 40 Essays from Successful Applications to the Nation's Top Business Schools. Ballantine, NY. Curry, B & Baer, E.A. eds. (2003). Essays That Worked for Law Schools: 40 Essays from Successful Applications to the Nation's Top Law Schools. Ballantine, NY. Kaplan & Newsweek. (2001). Graduate School Admissions Advisor. Simon & Schuster, NY. McKinney, A. ed. (2000). Real essays for college and grad school. Prep Publications, Fayetteville, NC. Interviews Whenever possible, schedule information interviews with faculty and department chairs of programs that interest you. Many programs require an interview as part of their evaluation process. Even if they don’t require an interview, try to talk to someone. The more you find out about the school, the more likely you'll chose a graduate program that matches your needs. This is an environment where you might spend a lot of time and money. The day on campus for the interview may be a good time to meet current students, explore or tour the campus and get a feel for the environment. The interview also helps the selection committee put a face to the name on your application packet. Meeting in person often helps both sides feel confident about the decision. In many programs, especially doctoral programs, you will need to establish a close relationship with an advisor or faculty mentor. Some programs may opt for a telephone interview, if you live far away, but try to visit in person. Preparing for a graduate program interview is similar to preparing for a job interview. Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about the program, its focus, faculty and standing. Find out how long the interview will last and with whom you will meet. Read up on the publications of key faculty members. Remember what you want from your graduate school education and prepare questions to ask during the interview. Dress up for the interview within the culture of the school. If you get a chance to visit the campus before your interview, this will help you aim for a conservative variation on what you see among the graduate students. Remind yourself of your own best qualities and motivations and be prepared to talk about them. Relax! You are looking for a good match between your interests and a suitable graduate program. Arrive 10-15 minutes early to give yourself time to look around and settle in. Be sure to get the names or business cards of everyone with whom you speak. Send a brief note after the interview thanking them for their time and expressing your continued interest in that program. Portfolios Certain programs, particularly those in fine arts or advertising, may want to see examples of your work. A portfolio can demonstrate your experience, skills, abilities and talents. Just as with the graduate essay, follow the instructions from the program carefully in submitting a portfolio. They may request a specific number and type of original pieces, copies or photographs of your work. Your portfolio may be in hardcopy, video or electronic format, depending on the length and format preferences of the program. Avoid sending originals of your work in your application packet, unless requested. If you send originals, include a self-addressed, stamped, reinforced envelope for their return. For a list of potential materials for your portfolio, refer to the Portfolio tab of the Regis Career Services web site. Auditions Performing arts programs will often require an audition before acceptance. Auditions may be in person or recorded, depending on the program. The audition may replace the interview process or supplement it. While in-person auditions include the obvious stress of live performance, they give you an opportunity to meet the faculty and other students, to get a feel for your comfort with the program. As with any part of the application, follow their guidelines for length and format. Seek feedback on the audition you prepare with gaculty and students in your undergraduate program. The Decision Process While the decision process varies from school to school, there are some common problems with graduate applications that can effect successful admission: Application packet is late or incomplete Recommendation letters are missing, negative in tone or present a very different set of qualities than the committee sees in successful graduate students Grades or test scores are lower than the program standards Prerequisite courses are missing from the transcript The essay lacks depth or indicates a lack of commitment to or preparation for the program Lack of relevant experience in the field It is helpful to find out when the committee will make their selections and how they will notify you. Formal notification is usually by letter, but you may be able to find out over the telephone. Find out if the department secretary or a faculty member can tell you over the phone, if you need to know before accepting a place at another school. You can usually wait until April 15 to respond to a financial aid offer for the fall term, so you will have some time to accept a spot in a program and change you mind later if a better offer comes along. If you do not get accepted in a program of interested, make some calls and find out how you can be more successful if you apply again next year. Sometimes prospective students are given the option to take classes as a non-degree student if they plan to apply again. Most students forget that graduate school acceptance is really a mutual decision. Your part of this decision includes choosing the schools to which you apply and deciding which placement offer to accept. Career counselors can provide support for the graduate school application and decision making process. All Regis students and alumni can set up an appointment, either in person or over the telephone. Contact Career Services at 303-458-3508, 1-800-388-2366 x3508. Application Timeline Plan on spending anywhere from nine months to a year preparing for graduate school admission before application deadlines. 9-12 months before deadlines: Make an appointment with a career counselor (800-388-2366 x3508) to discuss your goals and options. Career Assessments are also available to help you focus in on your goals before applying to graduate programs. Begin to research programs early. Bookmark web sites of favorite schools. This will give you time to investigate the entrance requirements so you can register for testing and take any prerequisite courses your transcript lacks. Select two or more schools to investigate. 6-9 months before deadlines: Contact schools, faculty, students/alumni, admissions representatives and related professional associations to supplement your research with personal information. This also helps you become known to faculty in programs that interest you. Find out about financial aid, scholarships, fellowships, research and teaching assistantships to finance your graduate degree. From this information, you should be able to narrow your selection to a few schools. Pay special attention to interaction with any faculty member who might be a compatible advisor. Register for the test date and begin preparing for the test your field or selected schools require. Some graduate school applicants order study books or computer-based study guides. Others take preparation courses. However you prepare, spend plenty of time on practice tests. Analyze the types and patterns of the questions, so you can use your time well on test day. 3-6 months before deadlines: Start calling people who might write letters of recommendation. Fill out a FAFSA and program-specific financial aid or scholarship forms. Start writing drafts of essays and personal statements. Revisit the web pages of programs to look for updated information. 1-3 months before deadlines: Finish filling out applications and financial aid paperwork. Request letters of recommendation and official transcripts. Aim for having all your application materials delivered to programs of interest one month or more before the deadlines. 1-2 weeks before deadlines: Call to confirm that all your application materials arrived. Best of success in your graduate school application and on the successful completion of your program! Career counselors in Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development can help you with your career development needs, including helping you navigate through the graduate school admission process. Call 303.458.3508 or 800.388.2366 x3508) to make an in-person or telephone appointment. Please take a few moments to fill out an evaluation of the online workshop evaluation form. Your feedback is helpful and appreciated.