Attention to all students applying for graduate school! In order to ensure the process goes smoothly, it is important to develop an exceptional application.
Whether a student intends to stay at Kean University or venture off into a university in another state, the most essential step is doing research. Researching the different schools will allow one to do the following things:
1. Decide the school and concentration: Choosing what school and concentration to study gives the student an understanding of what college they would like to attend. In many colleges, there are programs that house the various majors for students to choose. For example, under the College of Business and Public Management at Kean, one can choose an MS in accounting, MS in finance or an MS in marketing. Comprehending the options of schools help with courses and the time frame one would have to finish their Master's degree.
Tip: Try visiting or attending webinars to learn about the college and its offerings.
2. Decide a cost range: Researching schools can give students an opportunity to compare the different costs, providing the extensive knowledge about financial assistance.
Some of the financial aid tools that graduate students have access to are the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), merit-based and regular scholarships, fellowships, graduate assistantships (GAs) and internships.
The FAFSA is a form that current and prospective college students use in order to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. Through the FAFSA, graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 from a direct unsubsidized loan, annual loans up to $8,000 from a Perkins Loan and cost of attendance from a grad plus loan.
Prospective graduate students are suggested to fill out the FAFSA as it is open from Oct.1 to June 30 for the 2019-2020 school year. For more information about these loans and other financial aid opportunities through FAFSA, visit their website.
Students with accomplishments in academics, athletics or art are eligible for merit-based scholarships. A merit-based scholarship rewards students with talent in need of financial relief.
In addition, fellowships provide academic and hands-on experience for those eligible. Fellowships are short-term learning opportunities that typically span from a few months to two years and have a variety of options. Fellowships can vary for each major and awards can range from partial to full-tuition remission with a stipend as well.
When applying for fellowships, students are recommended to provide:
- Letters of recommendation
Tip: Most graduate schools will allow students to do a general application and fellowship application at once.
Moreover, assistantships are paid academic options for graduate students that involve part-time teaching or research. This is a great option for students looking to get educated and paid for research in their field. A student who is accepted for an assistantship can expect to earn $20,000 to $40,000 toward their academic career.
Lastly, an internship is a position where a student works at an organization — sometimes without pay — in order to gain work experience. Many colleges have offices or career-based websites that allow students to apply for internships within their academic field.
Make sure to read over all the requirements when applying. Most graduate schools will ask students to provide transcripts, standardized test scores (unless it is optional), letters of recommendations, CVs/resumes, a portfolio and a personal statement.
Helen Ramirez, the associate director of Graduate Admissions, advises students to consider the following when applying for graduate schools:
- Flexibility of Schedule
- Professional Outcomes
- Classroom Environment
"Look deeper than the program name. Look at the courses that you will need to take including the electives. [Also ask questions like] 'Are courses research-based, group work or projects, and are internships required?'" said Ramirez. "Will you be able to balance starting your professional, personal life with the bills of graduate school?"
Additionally, Ramirez has seen many mistakes during the application process and wants students to be aware of them.
"For [some students] applying to competitive programs, they do not have alternative programs and schools, or a plan if they are not admitted [which is important to do]," said Ramirez. "You should also convince the admission committee that you know the career you are pursuing. Take action through volunteering, shadowing or internships to earn experience in the field you are pursuing."
For letters of recommendations, Ramirez suggests students to thoroughly think about who they are asking and what they will say.
"You want to use these parts of the application to highlight other strengths not shown in the rest of the application," Ramirez said. "Demonstrate in the soft parts of the application that you know what you are getting into and why you are convinced this is what you want to do for your life’s work."
The most important aspect of a graduate application is communicating an understanding of the career path and professional goals for a graduate program.
With that in mind, The Nathan Weiss Graduate College hosts opens houses and various graduate information sessions to alleviate the stress of applications. On Sunday, Jan. 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m in the East Campus Building, the college will be hosting an open house. For more information, students can check out graduate student events.