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This day in age, an Associates or even Bachelor’s degree is just not enough! Many people find themselves wanting to continue their education by deciding to attend graduate school. Over the years, studies have proven that individuals with advanced degrees earn more on average than people with Bachelor’s degrees. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, in 2009, the average worker with a Bachelor’s degree earned approximately$56,665, while a worker with a Master’s degree earned about $73,738. In addition, a worker with an even more advanced degree such as a doctorate (PhD) degree or a professional (JD, MD) degree earned anywhere from $105,052 to $127,803. Of course, these salaries have grown since they were recorded in the 2010 Census Bureau, so in actuality, these salaries would be higher today, and continue to grow as time passes by.

If you are considering a graduate degree, keep in mind that it is not only a major commitment of time and effort, but can also be a major commitment of money. This is definitely a decision not to be taken lightly! Most Master’s degree programs can take up to three years to complete, and a more advanced degree such a doctorate or professional degree can take up to six or seven years to complete, which is definitely an enormous amount of time! Throughout the course of graduate school, you will face several years of intense work and research and a much more demanding course load than in your undergraduate program.

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Although you may have made the decision to begin your graduate school journey, how do you know that you will be accepted into the school or program of your choice? Well, the truth is that it is extremely difficult and competitive to gain admission into a prestigious program in your field. Thousands of students are applying to similar programs as you are, and you have to be sure that you set yourself apart from your competition. Check out these 5 tips for getting into graduate school-they are sure to help you gain admission to a top-ranked program in your field!

Do Your Research

One of the most important aspects of gaining admission into graduate school is making sure to do your research of the graduate schools themselves. Many individuals make the common mistake of assuming that all graduate programs are the same, when in reality, they can all be extremely different! As you as researching, make sure that you understand the admission instructions, deadlines and requirements for each school as well as the curriculum of their program. Also, be sure to understand the program requirements for your desired degree, because although you may be applying for the same degree at an array of universities, each school has their own set of requirements.

Maintain a Strong GPA

Your grade point average (GPA) is one of the first things that graduate programs in your field will look at in your application. Making the choice of attending graduate school requires that you maintain an above average GPA in your undergraduate program, especially for your “core” or field – related courses. So for example, if you are applying to a graduate program in Health and Nutrition, make sure that you have done extremely well in all of your undergraduate courses relating to your field, because remember, when you earn a Master’s degree, you are becoming an expert in your desired field, so you must have extensive knowledge in the field. For most graduate school programs, at least a 3.0 GPA is required for admissions, however, in recent years, some schools have raised their GPA requirement to 3.5!

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Extracurricular Activities and Experience
Getting involved in extracurricular activities is definitely a plus when applying to graduate school. Remember, admissions committees are trying to find the best students for their programs, so having some extracurricular activities will be sure to set you apart from the average student. Extracurricular activities can range anywhere from volunteering, or being involved with certain clubs or workshops that are related to your field. Moreover, becoming a research assistant or administrative assistant can also help you develop transferable skills that potential teachers and employers will value. Gaining any type of work experience while you are an undergraduate student is great, but getting involved with professional organizations is even better, so that you can network and develop relationships with others in the field.

Secure Strong Recommendation Letters

Almost any graduate school program is going to require at least 2 letters of recommendation to accompany your application. Keep in mind that these letters should be coming from people who have known you for a while, or from someone who you have worked with closely for some time. When someone writes you a letter of recommendation, the person recommending you should know you on a personal as well as professional level, and they should be able to emphasize your strengths and positive attributes. The last thing you want happening is for someone to write you a weak and denouncing recommendation letter!


Earn a High GRE Score

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is basically the SAT for graduate school. It is a comprehensive exam that most programs require for admission. Before taking the GRE, you will definitely want to give yourself plenty of time to brush up on your verbal and math skills. It is important to earn a high score on the GRE, because some schools use this exam as a filtering mechanism. So, if you have an extremely low GRE score, it is very likely that you will automatically be rejected from your desired program. The good news is that there are plenty of study books and resources available that can help you gain the score that you need.

All of these tips should be taken very seriously if you are considering enhancing your education and enrolling into a competitive graduate program. Even if you are older than the average student, you should still consider attending graduate school to advance your career. It is never too late to accomplish your goals and achieve your dreams!


Should I Go to Grad School?: 41 Answers to An Impossible Question
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